'KEENE, N.H. 2/14/07 - The dual meet season is over and the tapering is coming to end. It's now time for Keene State swimmers to tighten their goggles and get set for the New England Division II-III championships that begin Friday at the Henry C. Swasey Pool on the University of New Hampshire campus in Durham.
"It's a whole new season, said Keene State Coach Jack Fabian, who will be taking the Owls to the championship for the first time.
Both Keene State men's and women's squads should be in contention the championship at the meet which includes 12 coed and 11 female teams.
The Keene State women are coming off an undefeated 9-0 dual meet season that saw them break nine school records. Freshman Kristine Trutor, who set four of those marks, will lead a talented and deep Owl team that includes senior captains Devon Trabilsy and Katlin Pryor of Jaffrey, the defending 500 freestyle champ. "I'd like to end my college career on a positive note," said Pryor, who also won the 200 I.M. race as a sophomore. "If all goes well, I think we can win the championship."
The Owls, who won the title in 2001 and finished fourth at last year's New Englands, will have to swim past a Bentley College women's team that has won five consecutive NEISDA titles. KSC defeated the Falcons 173-127 in a dual meet earlier in the season. "It's definitely going to be a grudge match between us and Bentley," said Keene State sophomore Katie Allenson. "They have a great team, but I think we showed our heart and how much we want to win in our meet against them."
A nine-man Owl team will have to rely on quality instead of quantity at the meet. "It's a bit ambitious, but a top-three finish would be great," said Fabian. "Everyone has to score and all the relays have to be fantastic."
A third place finisher at last year's championship, the Owls completed their dual meet season with a 4-3 record. They'll be looking for strong performances from seniors Kyle Uricchio and Adam Van Brandenburg and promising freshmen Mike Fedele, Domingo Rose and Cody Larrimore, who eclipsed Owl records in the 50 fly and 50 free this season.
KSC will be in the hunt for the championship along with Norwich and Bentley, which has claimed the title four out of the past six years.
Leading up to the championship, coaches at the competing schools spend countless hours deciding strategy. Placing the right swimmer in the right event could be difference in garnering valuable meet points. "Every coach has a system," said Fabian. "The kids know it's a team meet and all about scoring. "They might have a favorite event, but they have to be willing to swim what we tell them."
Every team is looking for an advantage even if it means the pool. Up until last year, Bentley enjoyed home pool advantage by hosting the New England championships. With the Bentley pool being renovated, the meet was moved to Western New England last season. This will be the first time that UNH will host the event. "It makes a huge difference," said Fabian. The pool at UNH is the same as ours. I think our swimmers are going to jump right in at warm-ups and feel right at home."