Not that long ago, coming off a rare dual meet loss, the Bishop Hendricken swimming team looked vulnerable, and its streak of 23 state championships seemed to be in serious jeopardy.
Yet, with the state meet scheduled for this weekend, it’s clear that the Hawks are the heavy favorites once again
The Hawks have erased any doubts about their championship pedigree, as they are going into states with six consecutive dual meet wins to end the season and a first-place finish at the Division I meet last week.
Hendricken scored 378 points at the D-I meet, easily out-distancing second-place Smithfield’s 320, Barrington’s 285, North Kingstown’s 252 and Cumberland’s 193.
Those teams figure to be the Hawks’ toughest competition at states, and Hendricken appears – at least right now – to be the cream of the crop.
Still, they have to actually take care of business in the pool on Sunday to capture their 24th straight title.
“We’re still in good shape there,” Hendricken head coach Dave Hanson said. “Our freestylers, we’re pretty strong on all the freestyle events. That’s going to have to be our strength.”
The freestyle events were certainly the Hawks’ strength at the division meet, where they used a combination of top-level swims and strong depth to rack up most of their points.
Chase Martin captured first place in the 50 free, Mike Fedorenko took second in the 100 and 200 free, Michael Sundberg finished third in the 200 free and the 500 free and the team took first in the 200 and 400 free relays.
James Manni added a fourth in the 100 free, while Martin added a fifth and Dan Fedorenko took 11th. In the 50 free, Nick Carlson took ninth and Fedorenko was 11th. In the 200 free, Brendan Crowe was seventh, and he was also sixth in the 500 free. Jacob Fox added a 10th in the 500 free.
If the Hawks swim like that at states, they shouldn’t encounter many issues.
Hanson thinks the team poised to give the Hawks the best run for their money is Smithfield. The Sentinels went 5-2 during the regular season and lost to Hendricken 59-35 on Jan. 4, but they turned some heads with their performance at the class meet. They could be dangerous.
“I would think it’s going to be Smithfield,” Hanson said. “I don’t see them not swimming well. They’ve swum well all year.”
Smithfield has the top-seeded 200 medley relay team in the state with Brady Greene, Chris Cote, Ryan Cote and Ricky Boardman, and those four are dangerous in other events as well.
The other competitors – Barrington, North Kingstown and Cumberland – likely don’t have the depth to give the Hawks a run.
Barrington has standouts Zach Herchen, Jack Fortin and Luis Gozalo, while NK has Toolin, Boris Paraliticci and Matt Weber and Cumberland has Andrew Bauer, Jack Bauer and Eric Henderson.
At the end of the day, though, Hendricken should have the most. And, adding to the Hawks’ edge is that nearly every one of its competitors has state meet experience. Last year, Fedorenko, Sundberg, Martin, Manni, Tomasso, Jon O’Connell and Fox all had strong state meet showings.
“A lot of our success is going to have to ride the seniors,” Hanson said. “I told Fedorenko and Chase Martin and Nick Tomasso, I said ‘Guys, you lead and the rest of the kids will follow.’”
The Hawks also have strengths outside of the freestyle events, as O’Connell and Fox finished third and eighth, respectively, at the class meet in the 100 breast, Marc Andrews and Nick Carlson took fourth and eighth in the 100 back, Andrews and Tomasso took sixth and ninth in the 100 fly, and Tomasso and O’Connell went six-seven in the 200 individual medley.
If everything goes according to plan, the Hawks will be raising a state championship trophy for the 24th straight time and the 27th time in school history.
The meet will be held on Sunday at Brown University, with the warm-up slated for 12 p.m. and the actual races to begin at 1 p.m.
Girls’ meet Saturday
The girls’ state championship is set for Saturday at Brown. Several Warwick standouts will be looking for strong showings, including Warwick Vets senior Katie Evans and Toll Gate junior Mikayla Rogers.