Bullock Plus 8 Sign National Letters of Intent

November 11, 2015 by ·  


By Bob Birge

WESTPORT — Fordham University’s Rose Hill campus has been called an oasis in the middle of the Bronx.
The Jesuit school also reminded Mia Bullock of the private school she attended in Danbury when she was younger and that is a big reason why the Staples senior will be continuing her swimming career with the Rams.

Bullock, who owns six Staples’ school records, was one of nine Wreckers across four sports to sign National Letters of Intent during a ceremony at the school on Wednesday.

“I’ve been doing this for 16 years,” Staples athletic director Marty Lisevick said, “but I don’t think we’ve had nine in one shot so this is probably the biggest group.”

Born in Rochester, N.Y., Bullock moved to Danbury when she was four years old and attended the Wooster School from kindergarten through the fourth grade.

She remembers Wooster having a reverend on campus and attending chapel services every Friday.
“There were a lot of values and traditions in terms of being a good person and having everyone else’s well-being a priority to you as well,” she said.

“It was just a tight community, sort of a feeling where everyone was supporting each other, and Fordham is the exact same way. It’s really community and everyone is there to help each other and become the best person they can be.”

Bullock was joined in the mass signings by six boys lacrosse players — Josh Willis (Union), Connor Chamberlain (Monmouth), Mike Reale (Richmond), Ross Goldberg (Colorado College), Ben Schwaeber (Colorado College) and Sam Ahlgrim (Marist) — cross country and track superstar Hannah DeBalsi (Stanford) and baseball player Nate Panzer (Maryland).

Willis will become the fifth lacrosse player from Staples to play at Union.

“The coach (Paul Wehrum) loves us,” Staples coach Paul McNulty said.

Next season, the Staples baseball team will feature a pair of future Division I players as junior Ben Casparius already has committed to North Carolina.

“I thought (Maryland) gave me the best chance to win a national championship while still maintaining great academic status,” said Panzer, who helped fuel to the Wreckers’ run to the Class LL finals last season with 10 hits in the state tournament.

Panzer also considered Penn State, Boston College, North Carolina State, Michigan and Stony Brook.
“I had offers from a few of them and at the end of the day I guess (playing in) the Big Ten swayed me to go to Maryland.”

Last week, Bullock, who verbally committed to Fordham about a month ago, won the 100 butterfly and 100 breaststroke to help lead the Wreckers to a fourth place finish in the FCIAC championship.

She is set to graduate in January and will train for the Olympic trials in the spring semester.

Bullock earned FCIAC honors all four years at Staples and has a chance to join Meghan Fenn and Laura Shepard as the only female swimmers in school history to be three-time All-Americans.

Fenn and Shepard swam for the Wreckers in the 1990s.

“(Bullock) is incredibly versatile,” said Staples’ coach Mike Laux, who attended Fordham Law School. “I can put her in anything except the backstroke and she will do really well. She was a great role model for the kids in practice.”

While some students might get scared off by the Bronx, Bullock said she always has loved New York City.
Fordham’s campus also is enclosed, something she noticed wasn’t the case with Northeastern, another city school she considered.

Her final list also included Indiana and East Carolina but the chance to go to school in the business capital of the world was an opportunity the future business major could not turn down.

Bullock has been accepted into Fordham’s highly regarded Gabelli School of Business and should have no trouble cracking the Rams’ swimming lineup as a freshman.

‘I know my times are pretty high up on their roster,” she said. “I know my times either have or are close to their school records.”

Fordham, which competes in the Atlantic 10 Conference, has a pair of pair of swimmers from Westhill on its roster this year in Erin and Megan Gray and a diver from Stamford in Kate McGrath.

“I’m sure she is going to be one of the best swimmers they’ve ever had,” Laux said. “Fordham swimming has come a long way. Recruiting someone like Mia shows they’re really serious.”

Bullock soon will leave Staples but, according to Laux, never will be forgotten.

“We’re going to miss her next year and all the seasons to come,” he said, ” but at least we’ll know that every day she’ll be at practice because we’ll see her name up on the record board.”

Reprinted from The Hour

Staples Wreckers Take 4th at FCIAC

November 5, 2015 by ·  


By David Fierro

GREENWICH — Four years ago, Meghan Egan watched her older sister Cara compete for New Canaan in the FCIAC Swimming Championships — a competition won by the Rams. Egan left the meet hoping that one day, she would experience the same type of victory.

Well, that day came Thursday for Egan and the Rams.

In one of the fastest and most competitive FCIAC finals ever, New Canaan stood out the most, winning the FCIAC title for the first time since 2011 with a team score of 314 at Greenwich High School.

The Rams’ victory ended Darien’s three-year reign as FCIAC champions. The Blue Wave placed third (278), while Ridgefield finished as the runner-up (285). Staples finished fourth (271), followed by Greenwich (257) and Wilton (246).

On a night when numerous FCIAC records were broken, New Canaan capped the meet by winning the 400-yard freestyle relay in a conference finals record time of 3:30.98.

Ridgefield’s Marcie Maguire, the meet’s Most Outstanding Swimmer, broke the first individual FCIAC Championships record, winning the 200 freestyle in 1:50.07. Egan placed second (1:51.09), followed by Elizabeth Colwell of New Canaan (1:54.32) and Lauren Rutledge from Darien (1:55.20).

Emma Holmquist gave Wilton a first-place finish in the 200 individual medley (2:07.71), while Ridgefield’s Lindsey Gordon placed second (2:08.58) and Willow Woods from Staples was third (2:08.72). The 50 freestyle saw Ludlowe’s Sarah Grinalds touch the wall first in an FCIAC finals record time of 22.97. Katie Colwell from New Canaan finished second (23.12), followed by Kenzie Healy of Staples (24.47).
“I really owe it to my coaches for how well I did in this meet,” Grinalds said. “I have been training hard for this meet and I’m very surprised with my times.

“I feel very excited about what is going to happen the rest of the season.”

Staples took 1-2 in the 100 butterfly, behind Amelia Bullock (55.33) and Marissa Healy (58.30). Erin McIntee (Ridgefield, 58.79) and Isabel Blaze (Darien, 59.42) were third and fourth, respectively.

Grinalds won the FCIAC title in the 500 freestyle in 4:58.15, while Katrina Trentos of Wilton was second in 5:06.47.

“I just wanted to break five minutes in the 500,” Grinalds said. “I’m very happy with my time.”

“I have been coaching at Staples for 18 years and this is the fastest FCIACs ever,” Staples coach Mike Laux said. “Normally Greenwich or Darien walks away with the meet, but this year, New Canaan had a top-notch team, as well as Ridgefield. I can’t say how pleased I am that we came in fourth.”

Said Fine: “Tonight, we saw something special from our team. They swam a very special meet.”
at Greenwich High School

Team standings and key — 1. New Canaan (NC) 314; 2. Ridgefield (R) 285; 3. Darien (D) 278; 4. Staples (271); 5. Greenwich (G) 257; 6. Wilton (W) 246; 7. Norwalk/McMahon (Nk/M) 167; 8. Fairfield Ludlowe (FL) 164; 9. Westhill/Stamford (Wh/S) 118; 10. Trumbull (T) 85; 11. Fairfield Warde (FW) 39; 12. Danbury (D) 26; 13. St. Joseph (SJ) 22; 13. Trinity Catholic (TC) 15.

200-yard medley relay — 1. Ridgefield 1:46.55; 2. Staples 1:48.89; 3. New Canaan 1:49.24; 4. Darien 1:51.18; 5. Norwalk/McMahon 1:51.71; 6. Wilton 1:53.94; 7. Greenwich 1:54.28; 8. Trumbull 1:55.76; 200-yard freestyle — 1. Marcie Maguire (Ridgefield) 1:50.07; 2. Meghan Egan (NC) 1:51.09; 3. Elizabeth Colwell (NC) 1:54.32; 4. Lauren Rutledge (D) 1:55.20; 5. Hannah Snyder (R) 1:56.03; 6. Emma Kauffeld (W) 1:57.91; 7. Belle Stobbie (D) 1:58.06; 8. Lilly Clisham (G) 1:59.46; 200 individual medley — 1. Emma Holquist (W) 2:07.71; 2. Lindsey Gordon (R) 2:08.58; 3. Willow Woods (S) 2:08.72; 4. Phoebe Slaughter (D) 2:08.79; 5. Libby O’Hare (NC) 2:09.87; 6. Kelly Montesi (G) 2:12.23; 7. Brooke Collins (G) 2:12.30; 8. Erika Ehret (WH/S) 2:17.39; 50 freestyle — 1. Sarah Grinalds (FL) 22.97; 2. Katie Colwell (NC) 23.12; 3. Kenzie Healy (S) 24.47; 4. Katie Thorton (FL) 24.75; 5. Emma Brody (R) 24.83; 6. Madeline Smith (NC) 24.88; 7. Morgan Dill (W) 25.16; 8. Taylor Loud (W) 25.80; 100 butterfly — 1. Amelia Bullock (S) 55.33; 2. Marissa Healy (S) 58.30; 3. Erin McIntee (R) 58.30; 4. Isabel Blaze (D) 59.42; 5. Olivia Fassett (Norwalk/McMahon) 59.52; 6. Kelly Montesi (G) 59.79; 7. Maggie Orem (D) 59.97; 8. Elissa Clancy (R) 1:00.83; 100 freestyle — 1. Meghan Egan (NC) 51.62; 2. Lauren Rutledge (D) 53.07; 3. Kenzie Healy (S) 53.15; 4. Samantha Scott (G) 53.25; 5. Belle Stobbie (D) 53.97; 6. Caroline Sweeney (NC) 54.16; 7. Megan Phelan (FL) 55.74; 8. Emma Brody (R) 55.92; 500 freestyle — 1. Sarah Grinalds (FL) 4:58.15; 2. Katrina Trentos (W) 5:06.47; 3. Emma Kauffeld (W) 5:06.82; 4. Elizabeth Colwell (New Canaan) 5:08.79; 5. Hannah Snyder (R) 5:15.36; 6. Phoebe Slaughter (D) 5:16.16; 7. Dominika Brice (WH/S) 5:20.11; 200 freestyle relay — 1. New Canaan 1:36.94; 2. Ludlowe 1:38.59; 3. Darien 1:40.06; 4. Staples 1:40.29; 5. Ridgefield 1:40.35; 6. Wilton 1:40.51; 7. Greenwich 1:42.05; 8. Norwalk/McMahon 1:42.46; 100 backstroke — 1. Marcie Maguire (R) 54.48; 2. Isabel Anbar (Nk/M) 57.48; 3. Katie Colwell (NC) 58.44; 4. Hayley Linder (NC) 58.67; 5. Katrina Trentos (W) 59.32; 6. Katy Saladin (FW) 59.38; 7. Samantha Scott (G) 59.45; 8. Caroline Sweeney (NC) 59.78; 100 breaststroke — 1. Amelia Bullock (S) 1:03.55; 2. Lindsey Gordon (R) 1:06.02; 3. Emma Holmquist (W) 1:08.15; 4. Willow Woods (S) 1:08.30; 5. Olivia Fassett (Nk/M) 1:08.79; 6. Leigh Harrison (D) 1:09.44; 7. Brooke Hendee (W) 1:10.40; 8. Brooke Collins (G) 1:10.87; 400 freestyle relay — 1. New Canaan 3:30.98; 2. Ridgefield 3:33.92; 3. Ludlowe 3:36.69; 4. Staples 3:36.91; 5. Darien 3:38.86; 6. Greenwich 3:39.91; 7. Wilton 3:43.30; 8. Norwalk/McMahon 3:43.30.

Reprinted from the Connecticut Post

Bullock a Double Winner, Wreckers 4th at FCIAC

November 5, 2015 by ·  



By Steve Geoghegan

GREENWICH — Staples’ Mia Bullock had a goal in mind headed into the 2015 FCIAC Swimming Championships.

She was looking to break her own record in the 100 butterfly, a record she set last year. Unfortunately for her she just missed breaking it by 15 hundredths of a second.

Despite that fact, Bullock was a double winner with ease to lead the Wreckers to a fourth-place finish at the annual event featuring the conference’s best on Thursday at Greenwich High.

“I was just short (of my goal) but that just gives me more encouragement to do better at states,” the senior standout said.

Staples racked up 271 points, behind only Darien (278), Ridgefield (285) and FCIAC?champion New Canaan (314). The Rams won their first conference championship since 2011 while knocking three-time defending champ Darien off its perch.

In addition, Wilton was sixth (246) and Norwalk/McMahon took seventh (167).

Bullock was hardly challenged as she captured the 100 butterfly with a time of 55.33 and won the 100 breaststroke with a personal best time of 1:03.55. With her efforts, she tied for second with Sarah Grinalds of Fairfield Ludlowe for the Most Outstanding Swimmer award as Ridgefield’s Marcie Maguire locked up MOS laurels.

Her closest competitor in each race was teammate Marissa Healy in the 100 fly (58.30) and Lindsey Gordon of Ridgefield in the 100 breast (1:06.02).

“Through the years I’ve learned that it’s really about being a better swimmer for yourself,” she said. “It’s about competing with yourself and trying to be the best you can be. It’s trying to find the encouragement and the strength down inside of you to push yourself to perform whether you have someone swimming next to you pushing you or not.

“I think it’s pretty great,” she added of the team’s fourth-place finish. “I don’t know how high we’ve ever placed. It’s a bonus to place at this meet and my team is really happy we did.”

Bullock wasn’t the only Wrecker who turned in solid performances as Staples coach Mike Laux pointed out a number of his swimmers who excelled.

“This is absolutely fantastic,” said the coach, who noted it’s the team’s highest finish since 2007 (third). “The girls swam really, really well tonight. I can’t tell you how pleased I am.”

The other Wreckers who stepped up were the 200 medley relay team (second in 1:48.89), Willow Woods in the 200 IM (third in 2:08.72) and the 100 breast (fourth in 1:08.30), Kenzie Healy in the 50 freestyle (third in 24.47) and the 100 free (third in 53.15), the 200 free relay team (fourth in 1:40.29) and the 400 free relay team (fourth in 3:36.91).

As for Bullock, Laux said she has the best start of any swimmer in the league.

“She goes in and right away she’s half a body ahead,” he said. “But that isn’t just the start, she takes it from there and goes. She is a stroke perfectionist so if you ever want to learn how to swim a stroke, watch her swimming.”

Wilton’s Emma Holmquist was the other local champion as the senior came from behind to win the 200 IM with a time of 2:07.71. Lindsey Gordon of Ridgefield was behind Holmquist in second (2:08.58).

Holmquist, who was second in the same event last year, said she didn’t think she’d win and was surprised that she touched the wall first.

“The strongest part of my race is definitely at the end,” said Holmquist, who was trailing after the butterfly and backstroke but turned it on in the breaststroke and the freestyle, her two best strokes. “It shows endurance. It’s really exciting that I won.”

Holmquist also took third in the 100 breast (1:08.15) while the other Warriors who placed high were the 200 medley relay team (sixth in 1:53.94), Morgan Dill in the 50 free (seventh in 25.16), Emma Kauffeld in the 500 free (third in 5:06.82) and the 200 free (sixth in 1:57.91), the 200 free relay team (sixth in 1:40.51), Katrina Trentos in the 100 back (fifth in 59.32), Brooke Hendee in the 100 breast (seventh in 1:10.40) and the 400 free relay team (seventh in 3:43.30).

Wilton coach Todd Stevens said his swimmers swam as well as they could against top-notch competition.

“The top swimmers here are something to watch,” he said. “We saw a number of records broken tonight. At least one of Wilton’s records in the 200 medley relay was broken from 2011. I’m pleased and happy for (New Canaan coach) Dave (Fine) and New Canaan for winning the title.

“I’m happy to see Katrina and Emma Kauffeld make All-FCIAC along with Emma Holmquist,” he added. “They worked really hard and deserve it. This is the best conference in the state, no ifs, ands or buts about that. It’s good to be here among great competitors.”

Leading Norwalk-McMahon were Olivia Fassett in the 100 fly (fifth in 59.52) and the 100 breast (1:08.79) and Hayley Linder in the 100 back (fourth in 58.67).

Norwalk-McMahon coach Pam Raila said all of her swimmers swam well and they were excited to place seventh.

“They got up there and they raced and that was awesome,” she said. “We don’t have the big studs like some of the other teams do. They all did best times and this is a really tough meet now with the powerhouses like New Canaan, Darien, Wilton and Greenwich. We’re going against those powerhouses before we even get to State Open so this is a good test for us.”

Reprinted from The Hour

Staples Ends Regular Season with Win

October 24, 2015 by ·  


By Ryan Lacey

The nine seniors on the Staples girls and diving team took a victory lap across the Wreckers pool on Friday to receive a rose, signifying the end of a four-year journey that included a number of highs and personal bests.

Though they won’t ever swim in a competitive meet at Staples again, the Wreckers still have a lot to look forward to with the postseason around the corner.

The Wreckers beat Norwalk/McMahon 98-85 on Senior Day to wrap up the regular season 7-3.

“It’s a pretty fantastic group of seniors,” Staples coach Mike Laux said. “It makes a huge difference having that kind of depth. This is the first year that Staples has been able to field a full and complete lineup in all the events where all the swimmers are (competitive).”

After falling to Norwalk in 2013 before returning the favor on the road, the Wreckers got to celebrate at their home pool.

“I’m happy we won this meet,” said Staples standout Mia Bullock. “It’s always been a tough meet for us. I’m proud of all the girls on this team.”

Against Norwalk, the team of Mia Fraas, Willow Woods, Bullock and Kenzie Healy took top spot in the 400 medley relay (2:05.72). Bullock won the 200 IM (2:26.36) and the 100 breaststroke (1:17.02), Kenzie Healy won the 100 freestyle (1:01.30) and Aileen Coyne took the 200 freestyle (2:14.43).

“There was a lot of extra energy today,” Laux said. “I’m not sure if it was directed towards the pool, but there was energy. It was good.”

Sophia Stanley won the diving with a score of 247, while Eliza Donovan scored a 241.

Staples gets almost two weeks to prepare for the FCIAC meet, which is slated for Nov. 5. The Class LL meet (Nov. 17) and State Open (Nov. 21) will follow. The Wreckers placed second in Class LL last year and that remains the goal in 2015.

“That’s our goal every year,” Laux said. “There is a lot of tough competition. When we start and plan the season our goal is to be our best at states.”

Bullock — who holds a number of school records — is headed to Fordham, which is one of the top teams in the Atlantic 10 conference. The Rams went 10-1 last season and Bullock is excited to join the successful program.

“I’m really excited to go to Fordham,” Bullock said. “I know that it’s a program that will help me excel and make me an even stronger swimmer than I am. The team is so nice and welcoming.”

Having attended the Wooster School as a child, Bullock added that she’s excited to join the Fordham community.

“(Fordham) has a lot of the same traditions and the same environment as what I grew up in,” Bullock said. “It’s like going back to my childhood.”

Reprinted from the Westport News

Staples Sets Records in Win over Ridgefield

October 15, 2015 by ·  


The Staples girls swim and dive team improved to 6-2 and broke several records in the process with 105-79 win over fellow FCIAC contender Ridgefield on Wednesday afternoon at home.

In the first event, the team of Mia Fraas, Willow Woods, Mia Bullock and Marissa Healy came from behind to win the 200 medley relay with a new school record (2:02.56), breaking a 20-year-old record by three seconds. The Wreckers followed this up with a 1-3-4 finish in the 200 freestyle with Aileen Coyne, Michelle Kennedy and Mira Patel.

In the 200 IM, Bullock broke her own record, clocking in 2:22.50 and was closely followed by Willow Woods in third.

Kenzie Healy took first and Anelise Browne third in the 50 freestyle. Staples then took the top three spots in the diving with Sophia Stanley set a school record with a score of 251.40. She was closely followed by Eliza Donovan 242.475 and Kasey Hertan at 216.83.

Marissa Healy won the 100 butterfly in a time of 1:06.91, and Mia Fraas was third. Kenzie Healy then just missed the school record in the 100 freestyle, winning with a time of 59.87,

Coyne then lead the 400 freestylers of Michelle Kennedy and Mira Patel to a 1-2-4 finish as all finished with top 10 times.

The record-breaking was not over as the 200 freestyle relay of Woods, Browne, Coyne and Kenzie Healy knocked two seconds off the old record that stood for 20 years. The quartet clocked in at 1:52.97. They were followed up by Olivia Utter, Emily Duranko, Patel and Kennedy, who finished third in 1:59.87.

The 100 backstroke was won by Marcy McGuire, of Ridgefield, in the pool record time of 1:04.37. She was followed by Marissa Healy and Fraas finishing 2-3 for Staples. In the final individual event of the day, Bullock set her third school record of the day, clocking in at 1:12.78 in the 100 breastroke. Willow Woods finished third for Staples in 1:16.95.

Ridgefield won the final event of the day, the 400 free relay in 4:10.44, just edging the Staples team of Kenzie Healy, Michelle Kennedy, Marissa Healy and Mia Bullock, who clocked in at 4:10.77.

Staples faces New Canaan next Wednesday away and Norwalk next Friday at home for Senior Day. By virtue of the victory over Ridgefield, Staples moved into a first place tie in the FCIAC’s western division.

Reprinted from the Westport News

Staples Earns Rare Win over Wilton

September 22, 2015 by ·  


By Ryan Lacey

The Staples girls swim and dive team ran its record to 3-0 on Monday with a 103-83 win over Wilton on Monday. The win was just the third in the last 18 years for the Wreckers over the Warriors.

The Wreckers won six of the first seven events to build an insurmountable lead.

The 200 medley relay team of Mia Fraas, Willow Woods, Mia Bullock and Marissa Healy took top spot with a time. 2:05.86. Aileen Coyne won 200 freestyle in 2:13.81.

Bullock (2:26.43) won the 200 IM while and Woods (2:30.05) finished third. Bullock would break the school record in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:15.57. Kenzie Healy and Anelise Browne tied for second in the 50 freestyle, both coming in at 28.37.

Marissa Healy took first in the 100 butterfly while Kenzie Healy won the 100 freestyle. followed her up with a first place and top 10 time of 1:01.51 in the 100 free. With the meet falling into place for Staples, Aileen Coyne hit the top 10 again with 4:49.35 in the 400 free, closely followed by Michelle Kennedy performing her first top 10 time of 4:49.73.

Staples finished off the meet with first place in the 400 relay as Kenzie Healy, Coyne, Marissa Healy and Mia Bullock clocked in at 4:15.72.

Wilton’s Allison Courtney won the diving competition with a score of 233.75, just ahead of Staples’ Eliza Donovan (220.40). Sophia Stanley placed third (215.75).

The Wreckers get a shot at defending Class LL champion Greenwich on Thursday.

Reprinted from The Westport News

Wreckers Swimming Is ‘Into the Woods’

January 29, 2015 by ·  

By George Albano

Long before they became swimmers at Staples High School–and very good swimmers at that–Willow Woods and her brother North Woods had already made a name for themselves.

After all, it’s pretty hard to forget the names Willow and North. And from the same Westport family, no less.

But forenames aside, there are other reasons why these siblings stand out in a crowd. Especially when they’re around swimming pools.

North Woods is a senior tri-captain on this year’s Staples boys swim team, which is gearing up for another strong postseason run. As a junior, he played a vital role in the Wreckers’ 10-1 season and runner-up finish in the FCIAC as he took third in the 100 breaststroke, fourth in the 200 IM, and helped the medley relay team to a third-place finish.

Then at the Class LL state meet, he finished third again in the breaststroke, 10th in the IM, and helped a pair of relay teams to top-five finishes. He also qualified for the State Open in all four events, highlighted by an eighth-place finish in the breaststroke.

Meanwhile, his younger sister Willow arrived on campus this past fall as a freshman and made an immediate impact on the Staples girls swim team. Like her brother, she earned All-FCIAC honors while qualifying for the LL state meet in four events, medaling in the breaststroke and helping the 400 and 200 free relays to second- and third-place finishes, respectively.

What’s more, she helped the Lady Wreckers finish state runner-up in the team standings, and qualified for the State Open in all four of her events.

So, you see, neither North nor Willow Woods have to worry about any kind of identity problem when it comes to their high school sports careers.

That said, having unique first names doesn’t hurt. In North’s case, however, it was having a unique middle name.

“My first name is actually Christopher,” he pointed out. “I was named after my father and North is my middle name. But to make it easier on my mom, my parents decided to call me by my middle name. It was a little less confusing.”

“We didn’t want two Christophers in the house,” his mother, Kristen Woods, said with a laugh.

“So because my dad’s name is Chris, I’ve always been called North,” the senior swimmer said. “It stuck and I’ve always gone by North.”

Okay, that part is understandable. But how did Kristen and Chris Woods come up with North for a middle name when their son was born in 1997?

“My parents are big sailors,” North explained, “and North Sails is a big name in sailing.”

A “big name” is putting it mildly. North Sails is the world leader in sail making.

“They make most of the sails for big racing boats,” North said. “So my name has a connection to that.

But the North Sails brand name was only a part of the reason for his name. There was actually a bigger reason.

“It really comes from the compass rose,” Kristen Woods said, referring to the symbol found on a compass or a map that indicates direction. “My husband sailed and trained all over the world and he always talked about the compass rose.”

In particular, the “North” direction had special meaning to Chris Woods.

“The true north is what your internal compass is,” he said. “It’s what your internal direction is in the community as a member of society. It’s where you are destined to go and what your principles are.

“Sailors always sail to the North Star,” the former captain of the New York Yacht Club sailing team added. “But you also have to have a guide system in life, a direction in life so you can find your true North and what the right thing to do is. As a parent you want your children to develop a value system and develop the right values.”

It was with that in mind that his parents came up with a middle name.

“We brainstormed for a name and thought North would be perfect,” Kristen Woods said.

“It was more for the North direction on a compass rose than the North Sails brand,” Chris Woods noted.
Then about three years after North was born, his sister came along.

“We wanted some sort of botanical name for her,” Kristen recalled. “My aunt threw out the name Willow and we fell in love with it. Her middle name was Elizabeth if she wanted to go with a normal name as she got older.”

As it turns out, Willow Elizabeth Woods went by both names.

“I used to tell people my real name was Elizabeth,” she said. “I didn’t like Willow at first. But everybody told me how unique and pretty it was so I kind of embraced it after a while.

“Then when I went into high school I wanted to switch back and I told people to call me Elizabeth. But that didn’t work well. Too many people knew me as Willow in middle school and kept calling me that.”

Her brother, meanwhile, stayed with one name. Or least tried to.

“Usually on the first day of school every year teachers would call me Christopher,” he said. “But everyone else was calling me North and all my teachers picked up on it and started calling me that, too. It followed me from class to class.”

Not everyone picked up on it right away, though.

“When we were looking at colleges and talking to coaches, it was very confusing,” Kristen said. “His applications would say Christopher, but I would call him North and they’d look at me.”

North did go with ‘Christopher’ when he signed his letter of internet to swim at Division I Loyola University in Maryland.

“By the time the recruiting process escalated, all the coaches were calling him North,” his mother said. “He’s always been North.”
“It’s a great name,” Chris Woods agreed. “So is Willow.”

He liked both names so much, in fact, he has a tattoo of a compass rose on one hip and a tattoo of a willow on the other.
“Both names sound good with their last name. too.”

Not just in Westport, either. For example, there are Willow Woods all over the country. There’s a town in Virginia called Willow Woods. A Willow Woods Park in California. A Willow Woods Golf Course in Ohio. Willow Woods Apartments in Alaska (I kid you not). There’s even Willow Woods condos in Norwalk.

And, get this. There’s a Willow Woods Day Care School located in the Westport Presbyterian Church in Kansas City.

The same holds true with North Woods. There’s a North Woods Inn in California. The Northwoods Outlet for hunting and fishing gear in Michigan. Northwoods Outfitters in Maine which specializes in outdoor clothing.

And, lest we forget, Staples High School is on North Avenue and the street on North Avenue right before you turn into Staples is Willow Walk Road. Just thought I’d throw those in as well.

Of course, there’s also the Great North Woods, a 26-million acre piece of real estate spreading across Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York.

“We’re also mountaineers,” Chris Woods said. “So we also like the North Woods.”

But first and foremost, North and Willow Woods are swimmers. And very good swimmers at that.

“My parents doused me in the pool when I was only six-months old,” North said. “I started swimming when I was around two years-old.”
“I was around five years-old when I started,” Willow added.

The two of them have been swimming ever since … and making quite a name for themselves in more ways than one.

Reprinted from The Hour

Staples Finishes Second at Class LL Championships

November 13, 2014 by ·  


Mia Bullock won two events to help lead the Staples girls swimming team to a second-place finish at the Class LL championships Wednesday at Wesleyan.

Bullock won the 200 IM (2:05.28) and the 100 butterfly (55.18) and was also a member of the 200 medley relay that was third (1:51.43) and the 400 freestyle relay that was second (3:37.37) as the Wreckers finished with 537 points. Greenwich won its fifth straight title with 891 points.

Wreckers junior Aileen Coyne (1:55.52) placed second in the 200 freestyle, less than a second behind Greenwich freshman Sophia Jahan (1:54.60). Teammate Mackenzie Healy (24.66) placed fourth in the 50 yard freestyle, while Mira Patel (5:19.57) placed seventh in the 500 freestyle. The 200 freestyle relay team (1:40.00) finished third. Freshman Willow Woods (1:09.60) came home sixth in the 100 breaststroke.

Up next for the Wreckers is the final meet of the season on Saturday. The State Open will feature the best swimmers from each class. The meet is schedule to begin at 7 p.m. at Yale University’s Kiphuth Pool. Bullock won a pair of events last year to help Staples place sixth as a team.

Reprinted from the Westport News

Bullock Leads Staples to Second Place at Class LL

November 12, 2014 by ·  


By John Nash
Hour Staff Writer

MIDDLETOWN — Quietly, Mia Bullock arrived at Staples High School, slipping into the pool, and swimming in both the wake and shadow of one of the best swimmers the school and state has ever produced.

This fall, with both the spotlight and the pressure squarely upon her shoulders, Bullock shined as bright as ever at Wednesday night’s Class LL swim championship meet at Wesleyan University’s Freeman Athletic Center.

Bullock repeated her big school championships in both the 200 individual medley and the 100 butterfly, leading the Wreckers to a second-place finish in the process.

Greenwich won its fifth consecutive Class LL championship, amassing 891 points to swim away with the title.
Staples was the runner-up with 537 points while Norwalk-McMahon’s co-op team was third with 469 points. Glastonbury (434) and Newtown (428) rounded out the top five.

For the Wreckers, it was their best finish in a state meet since finishing second in the Class L championship meet in 2005.
Depth proved to be vital for Staples as the team had swimmers score points in every single event, which was big considering the loss of its star swimmer from a year ago, Verity Abel, who now competes at Duke University.

“The kids really stepped it up this year,” said Staples head coach Mike Laux. “Without Verity, everybody had to be a little bit better and the kids worked hard. We had great senior leadership on the team this year. It was just outstanding and we had kids in every event. We’ve never had that before.”

The Wreckers might not have had Abel to lead them this time around, but they did have Bullock.

“I’m so incredibly proud of these girls,” she said. “It’s amazing to see what they’ve done this year. I’m so happy. I’m proud to say I was part of this team when we did this.”

For years, Abel was Staples swimming, the team’s most recognizable name, a multi-time state champion and a Class LL record holder in two events.

Last fall, though, Bullock was only a sophomore and she matched Abel’s double victory in the LL finals, winning both the 200 IM (2:07.54) and the 100 fly (56.09).

She repeated that feat again this season, bettering her times in both events, as well.

This time around, Bullock won the 200 IM in 2:05.28 and the 100 fly in 55.18 to pace the Wreckers effort.

“I’m very pleased with it and proud of myself,” said Bullock. “A lot of it came down to my team, and I wouldn’t have been able to do without them cheering me on and doing everything they can to support me.”

Bullock’s time in the 200 IM was two seconds faster than both last year’s winning time and her qualifying time going into the meet.
She dropped time in all four of her legs — the butterfly, the backstroke, the breaststroke and freestyle.

“I’m really pleased with my 200 IM,” she said. “To come here today and do that, I wasn’t expecting that. I didn’t know where I was going to drop time, but I did in every single 50. It was just a great swim.”

Her victory in the 100 fly was 1.26 seconds faster than her qualifying time and almost a full second faster than last year’s winning time.

“I was pretty happy with my 100 fly,” said Bullock, who swims for the New Canaan Caimans in the non-high school season. “It was the same time today as the FCIAC final. It was a great time, but I was looking for a little more, but I can go after it at State Opens and (short-course) nationals. So I’m just excited for the next two meets.”

Bullock also led the Staples 400 free relay to a second-place showing and the 200 medley relay team to a third place (1:51.43).
Joining Bullock in the 400 free relay were Aileen Coyne, Anelise Brown and Willow Woods.

In the medley relay, Jordan Santarella, Jessica Taets and Mackenzie Healy were part of the finish, too.

Other individual Wreckers who earned A-Final points were Coyne, who was second in the 200 free (1:58.57) and seventh in the 100 free (54.82); sophomore Mackenzie Healy was fourth in the 50 free (24.66); Woods was sixth in the 100 breaststroke (1:09.60) and Mira Patel was seventh in the 500 free (5:19.57).

The Staples 200 free relay squad (Healy, Anelise Browne, Willow Woods and Coyne) was third in 1:40.0.

For the Norwalk-McMahon co-op team, a mixture of senior leadership and youth swimmers helped raise the program to even greater heights.

“You know what? They got out there and they competed,” said head coach Pam Raila said. “We had some best times in there. We had some great swims, some good swims. We’re very, very happy with a third place finish.”

Leading the team were two senior captains — Paige Delago, who was second in the 100 back (59.35) and third in the 100 fly (58.45), and Katie Wargo, who was third in the 200 free (1:56.72) and sixth in the 100 free (54.62).

“It’s awesome,” said Delago. “We came into this meet, not doing as well as we expected at FCIACs. We came out here today and swam hard and third place is perfect. I’m so happy with it.”

Added Wargo, “Every year we lose people (to graduation and injuries) and have to make it up for in whatever we can. We work harder, train harder we keep our heads up and motivate each other as much we can. In the end, it works for us.”

Freshman Hayley Linder was fourth in the 100 back (59.75) and sixth in the 100 fly (59.77), Lindsay Dell’Isola was sixth in the 500 free (5:18.73), Alexis Alvarez was eighth in the 200 free (2:02.04) and eighth in the 100 back (1:01.88), Jessica Rodney was seventh in the 50 free (25.58) and Olivia Fassett was seventh in the 100 breaststroke (1:09.74).

Norwalk-McMahon’s 200 medley relay (Alexis Alvarez, Olivia Fassett, Paige LeLago and Jessica Rodney) was fourth in 1:52.71.
The 200 free relay of Rodney, Katie Czulewicz, Emily Reinoso and Wargo was sixth (1:43.12).

The 400 free relay team was sixth (3:43.04) with Czulewicz, Linder, Alvarez and Wargo taking part.

Eligible swimmers now move on to the State Open championship meet, slated to be held on Saturday at Yale University. Start time of the meet is 7:30 p.m.

Darien wins fourth-straight Class L title

NEW HAVEN — The New Canaan Rams had the best two swimmers at Wednesday’s Class L state championship meet, but it was the Darien Blue Wave that had depth, carrying the squad to its fourth straight championship.

The Wave scored 815.5 points to easily outdistance its next four competitors, including New Canaan (570), Cheshire (547), Pomperaug (501) and Wilton (477).

New Canaan’s Kylee Towbin won the diving (467.8 points), Emily Colwell won the 200 free (1:52.89) and 100 free (51.16, a new Class L record) while Megan Egan won the 200 IM (2:04.28) and 100 fly (56.57).

Colwell and Egan also led the Rams’ 200 free relay to victory in 1:36.69.

For Wilton, Emma Holmquist was fourth in the 100 breast (1:06.91) and sixth in the 200 IM (2:08.45); Allison Courtney was second in the diving (394.1 points); Katrina Trentos (4th, 5:08.02) and Maggie Kauffeld (7th, 5:16.49) both placed in the A final of the 500 and Trentos was also seventh in the 100 back (1:01.06).

Wilton’s 200 medley relay team (Madeline Srivasstava, Brooke Hendee, Natalie Larsen and Julia Lewis) placed sixth in 1:54.30 while its 200 free relay (Holmquit, Sam Floria, Robinson and Hendee was fifith (1:41.80) and the 400 free relay team (Sydni Robinson, Kauffeld, Lewis, and Holmquist) was fifth in 3:42.40.

Reprinted from The Hour

Wreckers Place Fourth at FCIACs

November 3, 2014 by ·  


By David Fierro

Though it already clinched the FCIAC girls swimming title heading into the 400-yard freestyle, Darien High School knew the meet wouldn’t be complete without finishing it in style.

And setting a school record in the conference championship’s final event, indeed fit the bill.

Darien put the finishing touch on its third consecuctive FCIAC swimming championship, winning the 400-yard freestyle relay in a school record time of 3 minutes, 32.21 seconds — a blink of an eye faster than runner-up New Canaan — before a large, enthusiastic crowd at the FCIAC Championships at Greenwich High School.

The Blue Wave, who are starting to build a swimming dynasty, won the conference crown with a team score of 353 points. New Canaan was the runner-up (296.5), followed by Wilton (258), Staples (248) and Greenwich (239). Ridgefield placed sixth (206) and Norwalk/McMahon took seventh (199).

“I am so proud of our team,” said Blue Wave coach Marj Trifone, who was announced as the FCIAC Coach of the Year following the meet. “It wasn’t pretty, but we kind of pulled it out at the end. Our 4 free relay made a statement with that performance, which is a school record. What a way to end the meet.”

The victors displayed their depth, amassing points with the numerous top eight finishes.

“We came in here knowing it was going to be a fast meet, so we were very focused,” said Darien senior Mackenzie Coughlin, who placed seventh in the 100-yard butterfly and eighth in the 200-yard individual medley. “The target was on our back, so we had to show the FCIAC who we are. There’s a lot of great teams in the FCIAC and it’s an honor to walk away as champions.”

Said Darien senior Maggie Haddad: “Even though we won the past two years it doesn’t mean we weren’t nervous going into the meet. We knew what we had to do in each event and what times we had to get and were very intent on accomplishing our goals.”

Marcie Maguire of Ridgefield was earned Swimmer of the Meet honors, touching the wall first in the 100 freestyle (51.29) and 100 backstroke (55.65).

“I’m just so happy about how well our team did,” Maguire said. “Everyone swam great and I just wanted to go out there, race hard and have fun. Getting that award was exciting and pretty unexpected.”

A young Greenwich team received a pair of top eight finishes from freshman Kelly Montesi (200 individual medley, 100 butterfly) and a fifth-place showing from junior Brooke Collins in the 100 breaststroke.

“We had a lot of freshmen here and a lot of young swimmers, which is really exciting because it shows we are moving in the right direction,” GHS coach Lorrie Hokayem said. “We were right on with our best times.”

Added GHS senior Isobel Walker: “Considering how young our team is and the fact that we have swimmers who haven’t competed in this type of meet, I was really happy with how we did. Our divers performance the day before also helped us a lot in this meet.”

The meet began with Ridgefield winning the 200 medley relay in 1:48.68. Darien was the runner-up, (1:50.34), followed by Staples (1:51.54). New Canaan junior Meghan Egan won the 200 freestyle title in 1:54.80. Jillian Rice of St. Joseph finished second in 1:56.09, while Aileen Coyne from Staples took third (1:57.20). Egan took the lead the final 100 yards of the race.

“Jillian came in seeded seventh in the event, so it was wonderful to watch her execute what we discussed going into the race,” St. Joseph coach Michael O’Brien said. “She is right around where we want her to be at this point of the season.”

In a tight race, Amelia Bullock of Staples edged Emma Holmquist of Wilton for the 200 individual medley championship. Bullock posted a time of 2:08.08 while Holmquist clocked in at 2:08.52. Phoebe Slaughter of Darien was fourth in 2:09.26, while Lindsey Gordon from Ridgefield took third in 2:09.26.

The 50 freestyle was also one of the most exciting races. Katie Colwell of New Canaan and Fairfield Ludlowe’s Sarah Grinalds tied for first in 23.75 seconds. Darien’s Lauren Rutlege was third in 24.34.

“Marj (Trifone) has been saying all year long that the league championship meet tests our depth as a team and tonight we really showed our depth,” Darien senior Maddie Burke said.

david.fierro@scni.com; 203-625-4423


Team standings: 1. Darien 353; 2. New Canaan 296.5; 3. Wilton 258; 4. Staples 248; 5. Greenwich 239; 6. Ridgefield 206; 7. Norwalk/McMahon 199; 8. Fairfield Ludlowe 138.5; 9. Trumbull 105; 10. Westhill/Stamford 59; 11. St. Joseph 57; 12. Fairfield Warde 44; 13. Trinity Catholic.

200-yard medley relay — 1. Ridgefield 1:48.68; 2. Darien 1:50.34; 3. Staples 1:51.54; 4. New Canaan 1:51.96; 5 Norwalk/McMahon 1:52.37; 6. Greenwich 1:53.46; 7. Wilton 1:54.92; 8. Trumbull 1:56.28. 200 freestyle — 1. Meghan Egan (New Canaan) 1:54.80; 2. Jillian Rice (St. Joseph) 1:56.09; 3. Aileen Coyne (Staples) 1:57.20; 4. Sydni Robinson (Wilton) 1:57.53; 5. Belle Stobbie (Darien) 1:57.56; 6. Sarah Dwyer (Trumbull) 1:58.75; 7. Sophia Jahan (Greenwich) 2:00.29); 8. Elizabeth Colwell (New Canaan) 2:01.86. 200 individual medley — 1. Amelia Bullock (Staples) 2:08.08; 2. Emma Holmquist (Wilton) 2:08.52; 3. Lindsey Gordon (Ridgefield) 2:09.26; 4. Phoebe Slaughter (Darien) 2:09.41; 5. Courtney Ferreira (Darien) 2:10.00; 6. Kelly Montesi (Greenwich) 2:14.19; 7. Brooke Collins (Greenwich) 2:14.67; 8. Mackenzie Coughlin (Darien) 2:16.00. 50 freestyle — 1. Katie Colwell (New Canaan) 23.75 and Sarah Grinalds (Fairfield Ludlowe) 23.75; 3. Lauren Rutledge (Darien) 24.34; 4. Kenzie Healy (Staples) 25.13; 5. Brianna Auray (Fairfield Ludlowe) 25.24; 6. Isobel Walker (Greenwich) 25.26; 7. Madeline Smith (New Canaan) 25.33; 8. Ainsleigh Winget (Greenwich) 25.43. One-meter diving — 1. Rachel Burston (Westhill/Stamford) 482.40; 2. Kylie Towbin (New Canaan) 456.70; 3. Katie Kushner (New Canaan) 411.70; 4. Shannon Daine (Trinity Catholic) 389.70; 5. Anne Farley (New Canaan) 365.65; 6. Ines Villemure (Greenwich) 363.80; 7. Allie Courtney (Wilton) 356.75; 8. Jennifer Shrenker (Darien) 347.95. 100 butterfly — 1. Amelia Bullock (Staples) 55.18; 2. Mollie Coleman (Trumbull) 59.08; 3. Meghan Egan (New Canaan) 59.37; 4. Paige Delago (Norwalk/McMahon) 59.68; 5. Kelly Montesi (Greenwich) 1:00.42; 6. Hayley Linder (Norwalk/McMahon) 1:00.73; 7. Mackenzie Coughlin (Darien) 1:01.05; 8. Maggie Kauffeld (Wilton) 1:01.87. 100 freestyle — 1. Marcie Maguire (Ridgefield) 51.29; 2. Katie Colwell (New Canaan) 51.81; 3. Sarah Grinalds (Fairfield Ludlowe) 52.55; 4. Lauren Rutledge (Darien) 53.36; 5. Hannah Arman (Fairfield Ludlowe) 55.07; 6. Belle Stobbie (Darien) 55.18; 7. Sydni Robinson (Wilton) 55.19; 8. Sophia Jahan (Greenwich) 55.86. 500 freestyle — 1. Maggie Kauffeld (Darien) 5:09.46; 2. Courtney Ferreira (Darien) 5:10.81; 3. Katrina Trentos (Wilton) 5:11.70; 4. Aileen Coyne (Staples) 5:17.00; 5. Mollie Coleman (T) 5:19.92; 6. Kate Murray (Darien) 5:22.07; 7. Mira Patel (Staples) 5:22.11; 8. Julia Lewis (Wilton) 5:23.53; 200 freestyle relay — 1. New Canaan 1:39.82; 2. Darien 1:41.16; 3. Greenwich; 4. Staples; 5. Norwalk/McMahon 1:42.96; 6. Ridgefield 1:43.05; 7. Wilton 1:44.22; 8. Westhill/Stamford. 100 backstroke — 1. Marcie Maguire (Ridgefield) 55.65; 2. Phoebe Slaughter (Darien) 59.98; 3. Paige Delago (Norwalk/McMahon) 1:00.16; 4. Becca Maroney (Darien) 1:00.35; 5. Alexis Alvarez (Norwalk/McMahon) 1:01.37; 6. Hayley Linder (Norwalk/McMahon) 1:01.66; 7. Hannah Arman (Fairfield Ludlowe) 1:02.62; 8. Isobel Walker (Greenwich) 1:03.66. 100 breaststroke — 1. Lindsey Gordon (Ridgefield) 1:05.01; 2. Elizabeth Colwell (New Canaan) 1:05.93); 3. Emma Holmquist (Wilton) 1:08.74; 4. Brooke Hendee (Wilton) 1:09.37; 5. Brooke Collins (Greenwich) 1:10.20; 6. Willow Woods (Staples) 1:10.30; 7. Leigh Harrison (Darien) 1:1.12; 8. Lindsay Cooney (Wilton) 1:11.48. 400 freestyle relay — 1. Darien 3:32.21; 2. New Canaan 3:32.85; 3. Ridgefield 3:38.19; 4. Staples 3:38.25; 5. Fairfield Ludlowe (3:44.43; 6. Wilton 3:44.82; 7. Norwalk/McMahon 3:44.96; 8. Greenwich 3:48.63.

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