Last week, the Bishop Hendricken swim team did something it hadn’t done since 2006.
The Hawks lost a dual meet. North Kingstown beat them in the season opener.
“Every close race went the other way,” said head coach Dave Hanson. “We had numerous chances to win, and we didn’t do it.”
But for a team that always has its eye on the postseason, the loss didn’t mean much. What really mattered was what the Hawks did the next day.
“After Tuesday’s meet, we had the two best practices we’ve had,” Hanson said. “We’ve got to work. We don’t have the top-level talent, but we’ve got a lot of good swimmers. They’ve just got to get better.”
That’s the theme as the Hawks chase their 24th consecutive state championship. They lost two of their top swimmers to graduation – Andrew Robinson and Alex Powers – but return a strong core. They’ll just need a big effort.
“They’re capable,” Hanson said. “We’re going to be as strong as our weakest link.”
The Hawks are led by seniors Mike Fedorenko, Nick Tomasso, Chase Martin and Nick Carlson. All were contributors last year and will be ready to shoulder the load this season.
“We’ll go as far as they take us,” Hanson said.
And they have a track record. Fedorenko placed third in the 200 freestyle at last year’s state meet and sixth in the 100 free; Tomasso finished seventh in the 200 I.M. and ninth in the 500 free; and Martin grabbed ninth in the 50 free and 10th in the 100 free.
The talent doesn’t end there.
Juniors Jon O’Connell, Mike Sundberg and James Manni and sophomore Jacob Fox are also back after solid campaigns last year, while junior Dan Fedorenko has returned to swimming after doing wrestling last winter.
O’Connell had two top-10 finishes at states last year and also swam on a first-place relay. Sundberg placed sixth in the 500 free and 11th in the 200 free. Manni had two 13th-place finishes at states, and Fox also had a 13th.
Freshman Marc Andrews will also be a key contributor.
“I’ve just got to figure out where to use him,” Hanson said. “He can swim everywhere.”
It all adds up to a team that can once again contend. Progression will be key, and the Hawks are already succeeding on that front. They rebounded from last week’s loss with a dominant 75-19 win over La Salle on Tuesday, which gave Hanson his 300th career victory.
The Hawks took first and second place in eight events, with Sundberg, O’Connell and Martin winning two events each. Sundberg took first in the 200 and 500 free, O’Connell won the 200 IM and the 100 breast and Martin won the 50 free and the 100 free.
Mike Fedorenko won the 100 fly and Tomasso captured the 100 back. Manni, Andrews, Carlson and Dan Fedorenko each had second-place finishes.
The win should be a building block as the Hawks head into the holidays. They’ll return to action with a meet against Smithfield on January 4.
That’ll be the real beginning of the march to the postseason.
The goal remains the same.
“I’m not saying we’re going to do it,” Hanson said. “It’s possible we won’t, but it’s not because we’re not trying. These kids are working hard, and that’s all I ask.”