Panthers’ swimmers shine in Class M State Championships

The Panthers who made it to State trials are, from left: Owen Smith, Sam McHugh, Keller Hall, Brendan Kirberger, Ryan Youngcourt, Kenny Clark, Riley Sheppard and Roan Riordan. Photo by Emily DeMace

MONROE, CT – Masuk came in seventh with 302 points at the Class M State Championships, held March 13 at Cornerstone Aquatics Center in West Hartford. Pomperaug was first with 792.5. The Panthers recorded several solid times among the top finishers in the 20-team competition and Brendan Kirberger earned All State recognition as a freshman.

Masuk medal winners are, from left: Sam McHugh, Kenny Clark and Brendan Kirberger. Photo by Emily DeMace

In the 200 yard medley relay event, the team of Keller Hall, Ryan Youngcourt, Sam McHugh and Kirberger placed eighth in a time of 1:47.83.

The 200 freestyle race featured a pair of top-10 Masuk finishers. Kenny Clark was sixth in 1:49.40 and Kirberger came in eighth in 1:51.51.

In the 50 free, Riley Sheppard was Masuk’s fastest, placing 14th in 23.55. McHugh was fifth in the 100 butterfly event, finishing in 54.50 and Keller Hall was 15th in 56.51.

Masuk took home another pair of top-10 finishes – actually top-five – in the 500 free as Kirberger placed third in 4:48.57 and Clark was fifth in 4:43.36.

The 200 free relay was 11th as Youngcourt, Sheppard, Clark and Roan Riordan raced to a time of 1:35.23.

McHugh placed eighth in the 100 backstroke race with a time of 57.96.

Masuk’s 400 free relay team was eighth in 3:25.72. The relay consisted of Clark, Sheppard, Kirberger and Riordan.

In addition, Owen Smith was a State trials qualifier. Masuk swam best times in 14 of 18 events at trials.

“They swam amazingly fast to earn their spots at finals,” Coach Emily DeMace said.

Best times were turned in by the 200 medley relay, 200 free (Clark and Kirberger), 200 IM (Riordan) 50 free (Sheppard), 100 fly (Hall, McHugh, Riordan, and Sheppard), 500 free (Clark and Kirberger), 100 back (McHugh), 100 breast (Smith) and 400 free relay.

Sheppard tied for 16 place with Alexander Carrier of Farmington with a time of 23.63; they had a swim-off and Sheppard won with a time of 23.32. “Super exciting,” DeMace noted.

Those who medaled at finals: Clark in 200 free and 500 free, McHugh in 100 fly, and Kirberger in 500 with his All State qualifying time.

Masuk had six best times at finals: Riordan 200 IM, Sheppard 50 free and 100 fly, Kirberger 500 free, Youngcourt 100 breast (beat his trials time), and 400 free relay.

Clark and Kirberger are moving on to the State Open competition to compete with top swimmers in the entire state.

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