The Half Hollow Hills boys swimming team came into the season riding a five-year undefeated streak. But in the first meet of the year the streak was snapped by Ward Melville and the Thundercolts were sent back to the drawing board.
Hills head coach Jason Wiedersum had a meeting with his team after the loss and told his swimmers they had to put it behind them and to approach the rest of the season like it never happened.
The Thundercolts walked into the Suffolk Swimming Championships Saturday undefeated since and with one goal in mind -- win another county title. They did just that, scoring 289.5 points to earn the school's sixth straight Suffolk championship.
"It feels amazing to be part of this team," senior captain Isaac Vingan said. "We were very discouraged after the first loss but it actually brought us closer together because everyone from top to bottom knew they had to step it up. Today, we all stepped it up."
Sachem North finished second with 230 and Smithtown came in third with 195. Hills took the lead after the first event and never gave it up.
"It's a great feeling," Wiedersum said. "This year was very special. It was a great team effort today."
"Team effort" is the appropriate phrase, because other than Ryan Savit's win in the 1-meter diving which came earlier in the day, Hills came first in just one other event. The team of Michael Mattera, Peter Podniesinski, Michael DiMaria and James Gordin won the 200-yard medley relay in 1:40.18.
"That says a lot about our team that we were able to build and maintain a lead without winning another event besides those two," Wiedersum said.
This year's win was a complete contrast to last year's in which the now-graduated Matt DeBlasio led the way with two individual wins and was also part of two winning relays. Instead, it was a few second- and third-place finishes that did the job.
Mattera and Podniesinski tied for second in the 200 IM (2:01.18). Vingan finished third in the 500 freestyle (4:55.21). Mattera took second in the 100 backstroke (54.66). The team of Vingan, Mattera, James Gordin and Patrick Jakubiak finished second in the 400 freestyle relay (3:23.61).
"This year's team was a lot closer and more tightly knit because we didn't have someone like DeBlasio leading the way," Vingan said. "Each captain did his part to keep the team strong and keep the team motivated. It worked out fine in the end because we ended up doing really well."
Hauppauge sophomore Justin Plaschka was named Most Outstanding Swimmer after setting a school record in the 200 freestyle (1:42.34) and winning the 100 backstroke (51.76).