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02/27/2023 08:13 AM

GNH Warriors Ready for States With Diverse Club

Aiden Cohen, a senior captain for the GNH Warriors’ boys’ swimming and diving co-op team, will look to help the squad finish towards the top of the SCC and Class L state postseason standings. Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier
Senior captain Christian Butler is primed to be proficient in the postseason as a diver for the GNH Warriors’ boys’ swimming and diving co-op team, as he broke his own school record twice this winter. Photo by Wesley Bunnell/The Courier

The Greater New Haven (GNH) boys’ swimming and diving co-op team has created something special among the ranks of a high school swimming season: the Warriors have developed a deep roster that can more than certainly tread postseason waters after six victories.

Head Coach Mike O’Brien and the Warriors finished their dual-meet season above .500 with a 6-3 record. The squad, which is composed of a mix of athletes from North Haven, East Haven, North Branford, and Guilford, finished off its regular season on a very high note when it bested Xavier 88-80 on Feb. 14. This win gave the co-op its first-ever victory over the Falcons in the pool.

O’Brien noted that he finds himself in an enviable position when producing a prosperous postseason lineup, as he has several swimmers who can show their versatile skill sets in a multitude of events.

“I am pretty happy with this year so far,” said O’Brien. “With our three losses, we knew they would be tough meets against tough teams [Amity, Fairfield Prep, and Hamden]. But even in those meets, the kids swam really well. They took the defeats, but they kept their spirits up, and they have worked hard every day. With regards to SCCs, we are going through the events, and I am in the process of finalizing them. We have a lot of swimmers with a lot of options, which is a good problem to have. Overall, I was very happy with the dual meet season.”

When looking at the cohesion of the club, O’Brien felt that there was a better blend this season with regard to the breakdown of athletes from the different surrounding towns. Still, no matter the numbers, the team truly found its family atmosphere due in large part to the dedication of its senior leaders.

“Last year, I felt like it was a lot more lopsided with the size of the athletes from the different schools; it was more balanced this year,” O’Brien said. “But they all got together through events like pasta parties. They all blended in really well, and I thank our captains for that. That is how it goes when you have strong leadership up top; the rest of the team tends to enjoy everything. The captains have been great, and the coaches had weekly leadership meetings with them this year.”

O’Brien was certainly proud of his squad’s efforts in all nine of their meets in December, January, and February, yet the spirit displayed against Xavier absolutely stood out to him. Individually, he marveled at the personal feats of one of his divers.

“[Senior captain] Christian Butler went undefeated in dual meets this year, and he even broke his own school record two weeks in a row,” Coach O’Brien said. “We are hopeful for him in SCCs, and finishing towards the top in Class L for states and then hopefully the State Open. The Xavier meet was one of our best team moments of the year. We had guys fight through injury, illness, and some COVID cases, but the team came together. They were pumped up for the meet, and they really pulled through for those second, third, and fourth-place finishes. It was good to end the year on a high note.”

The high stakes and pressure of a postseason meet can wear on a young student-athlete, though the Warriors know they must enjoy the moment and ride the waves of entertainment to the finish line.

“Our mindset for the postseason is the same as it has been all year long,” said O’Brien. “We want them to go out there and do their best, but to also enjoy it and have fun. It is meant to be hard work, and they are certainly putting in that hard work.”

After the SCC Championship on March 1 at Southern Connecticut State University, the Warriors will then venture to the Class L State Championship. The diving portion will be held on Thursday, March 9, at Sheehan High School at 5:30 p.m. The swimming trials will take place on Saturday, March 11, at Cornerstone Pool at 11:15 a.m. The swimming championship meet itself will be contested on Wednesday, March 15, at Cornerstone at 6 p.m.

For these meets, GNH has its collective eye set on top placement as a group, and O’Brien added that it is always a numbers game when it comes to bolstering a team’s fortunes in the pool this time of the year.

“As a team, we are hoping to stay towards the top 5, but the top 3 would be even better,” said O’Brien. “We are hoping Christian takes tops in SCCs and Class L for diving. [Senior captain] Aiden Cohen will look to break 23 in the 50 free. We have a few guys on the bubble for states currently, and, with good showings at SCCs, they will hopefully get pushed into states. The more guys we have in states, the better off we are.”

For its dual-meet season, GNH scored decisions over Notre Dame-West Haven (97-69), Foran-Law (97-75), Cheshire (90-71), Lyman Hall-Coginchaug (95-82), Hand (91-80), and Xavier (88-80). The Warriors took defeats against Amity (97-84), Fairfield Prep (also 97-84), and Hamden (99-87).

The Warriors’ roster is comprised of seniors in Mohan Bahiti (of North Haven), Christian Butler (North Haven), Spencer Carroll (North Branford), Aiden Cohen (Guilford), Lucas Espinosa (Guilford), Ally Farrell (North Branford), Matteo Fraschilla, Joey Gould (Guilford), Natalya Guerrero (North Branford), Ellwyn Michael (North Haven), Dylan Sobelewski (East Haven); juniors of Josue Bravo (East Haven), Roberto DeMacedo (North Haven), Alex Hansen (Guilford), Sam Mayo (Guilford), Parthiv Patel (North Haven), Coleman Tandler (Guilford), RT Trotter (Guilford), Daniel Villabona, Victor Zito (North Haven); sophomores in William Cong (Guilford), Johnson Dong (Guilford), Jack Gardner (Guilford), Kyle Januszewski (North Haven), Devin Lu (Guilford), Robert O’Connor (North Haven); and finally freshmen Jeffrey Cheng (Guilford), Miko Clavaton (North Haven), Bryson Kluk (North Branford), Griffin McCarroll (East Haven), Remy Mui (North Haven), and Mateo Urbina (North Branford).