Oh, So Close: Hanover Narrowly Misses State Swim Title
Hanover's Corrie Presland-Byrne comes up for air in the girls' 200-yard individual medley at the NHIAA Division II swimming and diving championship at UNH yesterday. Presland-Byrne was part of a runner-up finish for the Marauder girls, a program best. (Alan MacRae photograph)
Lebanon’s Vladimir Burnin powers through the butterfly leg of the 200-yard medley relay for the Lebanon boys, who finished ninth in the event. (Alan MacRae photograph)
Hanover’s Corrie Presland-Byrne comes up for air in the girls’ 200-yard individual medley at the NHIAA Division II swimming and diving championship at UNH yesterday. Presland-Byrne was part of a runner-up finish for the Marauder girls, a program best. (Alan MacRae photograph)
Hanover's Brendan Forauer springs from the block in the boys 50 yard freestyle event. (Alan MacRae photograph)
Durham, n.h. — In the rich history of Hanover High School athletics, a swimming and diving team state championship banner is one of the only accolades missing from the gymnasium walls.
The Marauder girls were about two strokes away from changing that yesterday, but fell just short in a runner-up finish to Oyster River in the NHIAA Division II state meet at the University of New Hampshire’s Swasey Pool.
In a winner-take-all final event of the day, the 400-yard freestyle relay, Bobcats junior Haley Jones got off to a flying start, forcing Hanover to play catchup. The Marauders got closer throughout, and sophomore Elisabeth Brechbuhl’s explosive flip turn on the final lap helped her gain about five of the seven yards necessary to surpass Oyster River anchor Tessa Oakes.
With raucous cheers echoing loudly off Swasey’s brick walls, Oakes finished less than six-hundredths of a second ahead of Brechbuhl, allowing the Bobcats to win the event in 3 minutes, 48.17 seconds, and capture their third D-II title in six years, 215-205 over the Marauders. Hanover’s runner-up time in the 400 free relay was 3:48.71.
“(Oyster River) put their fastest swimmer (Jones) at the start,” noted Hanover coach Ann Brechbuhl. “That’s definitely not the standard, but it’s not unheard of. We put Elisabeth (at the anchor) because she’s the fastest when she’s chasing someone. And she almost caught (Oakes).”
Elisabeth Brechbuhl had already bettered Jones in two individual events, edging the speedy Bobcat in the 200 free (1:54.65, to Jones’ 1:57.91) and 500 free (5:09.57, to Jones’ 5:13.80).
Fellow Hanover sophomore Kathryn Aman also captured a pair of golds, winning the 100 butterfly (59.91) and 100 backstroke (1:01.42) as Hanover, an eighth-year program, put forth its best-ever showing at states.
In a sport where emphasis is sometimes placed on individual merit, the Marauders relished their collective effort yesterday.
“A lot of times at the (regular-season) meets, there will be seven or eight teams there, but they’re scored as (a series of) dual meets, and you don’t necessarily get as much of that sense of team as you do at states,” Ann Brechbuhl said. “I think they definitely felt that teamwork today and had a great day.”
In the most team-oriented of events — the relays — Hanover flourished with three podium finishes. Freshman Audrey Steiner and senior Parker Goss joined Elisabeth Brechbuhl and Aman for runner-up finishes in both the 400 free as well as the 200 medley (1:56.91), while Katherine Brechbuhl, Neha Garg, Hannah Seibel and Katherine Robertson were third in the 200 free relay in 1:53.89.
Goss was also fifth in the both the 50 free (26.74) and 100 free (57.93), while Steiner placed sixth in the 500 free (5:42.46).
Hanover’s lone diver, Gen Bristol, was second to St. Thomas senior Signe Frick in the one-meter dive, 265.85-226.20. Bristol, a senior, began diving with a youth program at Storrs Pond Recreation Area at age 11 and stuck with the discipline, becoming the program’s first diver as a sophomore. She continued even with no Hanover diving coach — and no accessible diving board at the Marauders’ home pool, at the Carter Community Building Association’s Witherell Recreation Center in Lebanon — reserving time at Dartmouth College’s Karl Michael Pool to stay in practice. She traveled to meets in Dover and Keene on her own in order to qualify for yesterday’s meet.
“The embarrassing story is that there was a cute guy in the diving program (at Storrs Pond) and I wanted to meet him, and that was pretty much why I started,” Bristol admitted yesterday. “Plus, my younger sister (Olivia) started and could do a flip, so I wanted to, too. I’m glad I stuck with it, because now I want to do it in college.”
Hanover’s boys finished sixth yesterday, led by junior Ziqi Wang’s strong sprints in the 50 free (third; 23.43) and 100 free (fourth; 51.37). Sandy Yu was fourth in the 100 breaststroke (1:07.97); sophomore Conrad Koehler was fifth in the 500 (5:42.59); and sophomore Brendan Forauer was eighth in the 50 free (24.89) and 12th in the 100 free (57.25).
Wang, Yu, Koehler and Forauer also combined for a fifth-place showing in the 200 medley relay (1:52.73).
Lebanon’s girls placed ninth, with Elizabeth Barney, Lyssa Wright, Brittany DeVoid and Amanda Klotz earning fourth in the 200 medley relay with a time of 2:08.22. Wright garnered top-10s in the 500 free (ninth; 5:52.02) and 100 breaststroke (10th; 1:19.01), while Klotz was seventh in the 50 free (27.06).
The Raider boys were 12th as freshman Kyle Shepherd was seventh in the 500 free (5:59.63) and 10th in the 100 backstroke (1:05.07). Shepherd joined Vladimir Burnin, Sean Taylor and Connor Gavell for a ninth-place finish in the 200 medley relay (2:02.92).
First-year Lebanon coach KC Shepherd was pleased with the Raiders’ progress this season.
“To see the process of them coming in at the beginning of the season and getting so much better, that’s what it’s all about,” the coach said. “For them to come out, have a good time and improve their technique … it’s like a light switch goes off with some of these kids where, all of a sudden, they’re not afraid to come up short and they know the places will come if they keep working at it. We have a lot of kids who I think are going to do great next year.”
Stevens’ competitors included senior Abbey Rouillard and freshman Hannah Scott, first cousins who were also teammates on the Cardinals’ field hockey team last fall. Scott had a strong day, placing third in the 50 free (26.25) and sixth in the 100 free (58.05), while Rouillard was 13th in the 200 free.
“We’re a really close family, and (Scott and I) have gotten even closer since high school started and (we started) playing sports together,” Rouillard said. “It’s been really fun.”
Girls team scores: Oyster River 215, Hanover 205, Souhegan 170, Monadnock 82, Windham 76, Derryfield 67, Bow 63, Conant 61, Lebanon 54, Milford 49, St. Thomas 41, Goffstown 35, Plymouth 32, Portsmouth 30, Gilford 27.
Boys team scores: Souhegan 196, St. Thomas 170, Windham 149, Oyster River 127, Hollis-Brookline 125, Hanover 96, Bishop Brady 81, Portsmouth 80, Bow 73, Campbell 36, Derryfield 35, Lebanon 32, Belmont 32, Coe-Brown 24, Conant 19.