The Bishop Hendricken swimming team hasn’t suffered many defeats over the years, so there haven’t been many opportunities for the proverbial “good loss.”
But that’s what the early season loss to North Kingstown – the program’s first since 2005-06 – has turned out to be. There’s been a silver lining.
Since the Hawks fell to the Skippers in the first meet of the season on Dec. 11, they’ve taken care of business with a renewed work ethic. On Tuesday, they finished off the regular season with a 58-36 win over a strong Barrington team.
That gave Hendricken a final 6-1 record, tying it with North Kingstown for a share of the Division I regular season crown. The Skippers’ only loss came at the hands of Barrington.
“If there’s such a thing as a loss being a good loss, that was a good loss,” Hendricken head coach Dave Hanson said. “We came in and started working hard.”
Tuesday was solid proof of that hard work. Against a Barrington team that is considered one of the top three or four in the state, Hendricken took first place in every event but three, and essentially locked up the victory halfway through the meet.
The Eagles finished their regular season at 4-2.
Hanson knew the meet wouldn’t be easy, and he adjusted his lineup accordingly. One move, in particular, paid off heavily. He moved standout freestyler Michael Fedorenko into the 200 individual medley and 100 fly in order to gain some more depth across the board.
“I had to take Fedorenko out of his comfort zone,” Hanson said. “Michael swam the IM and fly instead of the 200 free and 100 free. He won the IM and came in second in the fly, which was great for us.”
The Hawks could afford to move Fedorenko out because of their depth in the freestyle events.
Without Fedorenko in either the 100 free or the 200 free, Hendricken still grabbed first place in both. Chase Martin took first in the 100 free, while Mike Sundberg finished first in the 200 free.
The Hawks continued their dominance in the freestyle events throughout the day. Martin won the 50 free, Sundberg won the 500 free, and the team captured first in both the 200 free relay and the 400 free relay.
In the 200 free relay, Hendricken won with Martin, James Manni, Nick Tomasso and Fedorenko. In the 400, the Hawks used Manni, Marc Andrews, Sundberg and Fedorenko to cruise to victory.
Manni also claimed second place in the 200 free and the 100 free, while Brendan Crowe – who was injured in the meet against North Kingstown – took second in the 500 free.
“We’re good in the freestyle events,” Hanson said. “We have a swimmer in every event, but I have two butterflyers, two breaststrokers, I have two backstrokers. Where I have three or four good 200 freestylers. I have four 50 freestylers. I have four 100 freestylers. I have three 500 freestylers. Our free relays are either first or second in the state.”
In the 100 breaststroke, Jon O’Connell took second for the Hawks, while Tomasso took third in the 200 IM and the 100 backstroke. Andrews won the 100 back and took third in the 100 fly.
One area where Hendricken is seeking improvement is the 200 medley relay. Barrington’s group of Jack Fortin, Mackenzie DeWitt, Zach Herchen and Miguel Gozala beat out the Hawks’ four of Andrews, O’Connell, Tomasso and Martin, and right now Hanson says his team is fourth-best in the state.
“We’re still struggling with our medley relay,” Hanson said. “I can’t figure it out. Although today was our best time of the year, but I’m still not happy with it.”
The Hawks will find out just how far they’ve come this weekend, when they compete in the Division I Class Meet on Sunday at Roger Williams University. That meet is at 12 p.m.
The meet is scored out 16 places, making it very similar to the state championship meet that will be held in two weeks.
Competing alongside Hendricken will be North Kingstown, Barrington and Smithfield – likely its three biggest challengers for a 24th straight state crown.
“It’s a matter of trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together,” Hanson said. “That’ll show us where we are, really.”