The Shelton High boys swim team led from start to finish in defeating Seymour, 98-63, for its first victory of the season at the Shelton Community Center pool on Dec. 27.
“While we have a tough schedule in the beginning half of the season, once we get into our Division II schedule I think we will be highly competitive,” Shelton head coach Tom Jurzynski said. “I would like to think we can compete with Foran and the Wallingford schools for the top team in the SCC Division.”
The Gaels come into the season with a solid core of senior leadership, but after that they are a pretty young group with little varsity experience.
Leading the way are seniors Kyle Barber, Jake Johnson and Brett Butler, along with Neel Swamy, Trisdan Binan and Gajaan Sittambalam.
The experience level drops off significantly after that, as Shelton goes with six sophomores and five freshman on its roster.
The Gaels began the season with some tough competition, dropping meets to Notre Dame of West Haven and Amity.
But Shelton did make some noise against the perennial league favorite Amity Spartans. Barber had a record-breaking performance, setting the new school record in the 100 butterfly with a 56.98.
Freshman Hunter Wronski won the 100 breaststroke with an effort of 1:07.22 and the 400 free relay foursome of Barber, Wronski and sophomores Jack Wise and Eni Stafa took first place in a time of 4:06.58.
“We are relying on a lot of kids without a ton of experience,” Jurzynski said. “So a lot of our team’s success goes with their improvement over the course of the season.”
That success may be a bit ahead of schedule, as the Gaels overwhelmed the Wildcats of Seymour.
Barber and Wronski won double events to set the pace and were instrumental in Shelton winning two of the three relays.
The 200 medley relay squad of sophomore Agean Binan, Wronski, Barber and Jake Johnson raced to a first-place finish at 1:59.31 to put the Gaels out in front.
Wronski went out and won the 200 freestyle in 2:04.88 and Barber glided to victory in the 200 IM at 2:09.42, as Shelton began to stretch its lead over the Wildcats.
“Kyle had led the way and has had a great start to the season,” said Jurzynski. “Our freshman Hunter Wronski has come in with lots of experience and has performed great in the breaststroke, IM and distance freestyle events.”
The Gaels shifted gears and began to pull away with sweeps in the 50 and 100 sprints.
Wise took first in the 50 free at 26.44, followed by Jake Johnson second and Stafa third.
Barber won his second race in the 100 free, followed by Wise second and Jake Johnson third.
“We got great performances out of our sprinters sweeping both events that gave us a commanding lead,” Jurzynski said.
Seymour tried to get back in it, as Jake Velleco gave the Wildcats their first win by taking the 100 butterfly in a time of 1:03.22 but it was too little too late.
Wronski got the Gaels back on track when he swam to his second win of the meet, taking first in the 500 free at 5:29.41.
Agean Binan took first in the 100 backstroke at 1:09.92 and Butler swam to victory in the 100 breaststroke at 1:19.61.
The 200 free relay squad of Barber, Neel Swamy, freshman Sebastian Musante and Butler put the finishing touches on the meet with a first-place finish in a time of 1:51.36.
Shelton also utilizes the depth of sophomores Zachary Johnson, Mike Pertoso and Steven Schmidt, along with freshman Brian Callinan, Jack Piscitelli and Juan Carlo Rojo.
The Gaels will be tested this week when they take on one of the top teams in the state in Branford and then gear up for a battle on Friday at home with Masuk.