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    Thursday, April 18, 2024

    High school notes: Fitch co-op’s Kaitlyn Kumpf excelling in yet another sport this fall

    Waterford’s Payton Smith (9) and East Lyme’s Lilah Hart (12) fight for a ball during Monday night’s girls’ soccer game at Waterford High School. The Lancers won 2-1, their first win over the Vikings since 2020. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Groton — It’s not surprising that those in the high school swimming community — even her own coach, Ali Colussi of the Fitch cooperative team — aren’t familiar with Kaitlyn Kumpf’s resume.

    Kumpf, a sophomore, won the 100-yard backstroke in 1 minute, 6.14 seconds during Fitch’s 98-70 victory over Waterford on Friday in an Eastern Connecticut Conference dual meet and was second in the 200 individual medley.

    Last fall, Kumpf ran for the Wheeler High School girls’ cross country team, earning all-state honors with a 12th-place finish in the Class S state championship. She qualified for the State Open, Wheeler’s top finisher since 2009.

    “We’re really thrilled to have her,” Colussi said of Kumpf, the swimmer. “She works really hard. She’s very personable. She motivates teammates in her lane.

    “She’s a great addition to the team, both in terms of how she races because we lost a backstroker last year, but also a great new teammate because she’s personable and swims hard at practice.”

    A little more background: Kumpf, a resident of North Stonington, attends the Marine Science Magnet High School in Groton. Because Marine Science does not have its own athletic teams, that makes Kumpf eligible to compete in her home district, representing Wheeler. Wheeler is a member of the Fitch co-op.

    So Kumpf attends school at Marine Science, then takes a bus to Fitch, where the students travel together to the pool at UConn Avery Point.

    “I’ve been taking swim lessons since I was 3 and I’ve been on a swim team since I was 6,” Kumpf said. “So I was originally going to join the swim team last fall but I switched to Marine Science Magnet High School (from Williams) a couple weeks into the school year.

    “I couldn’t actually get on the team last year, so that’s why I ran cross country.”

    An accidental all-stater.

    “That was really surprising,” Kumpf said. “It was a really good experience. I really enjoyed being on that team, but this is really where I wanted to be. It’s such a great team. The coaches are so supportive and it’s a great mix of old and new friends.”

    Kumpf’s forte is the backstroke, interesting since she is 5-foot-2 and the backstroke has often been won by taller athletes with longer strokes. Last year’s ECC backstroke champ, for instance, Stonington’s Delaney Reck of the Fitch co-op, was 6 feet.

    “That’s not me,” Kumpf said with a smile. “I try to have a quick tempo for backstroke. I kind of have a good tempo throughout the entire race. ... I think I’ve always liked the feeling of being in the water and having the individual and the team environment.”

    The Fitch co-op (4-0 overall, 4-0 in the ECC) features swimmers from Fitch, Stonington, New London and Wheeler.

    Cordially invited

    When Waterford volleyball coach Amanda (Tourjee) Kostek received an email inviting her team to participate in The Day Volleyball Invitational on Monday, Oct. 9, at Mohegan Sun Arena, she first told her assistant coaches, then her players.

    “I said, ‘We all want this, right?’ They said, ‘Oh, my God, yes,’” Kostek said of the players. “I just wanted to make sure. I don’t want them to be super nervous. I’ve been telling them, ‘Remember, this is a normal game, just as important as any other game, just in a really cool place. Don’t overwhelm yourselves.’”

    It is Waterford’s first time competing in the second-year event.

    The Lancers are the reigning ECC Division I tournament champions and are 8-1 overall.

    Southington will meet RHAM at 3 p.m., followed by Waterford vs. Joel Barlow at 5 and Fitch vs. Ledyard at 7.

    Fitch and Ledyard competed in the inaugural tournament a year ago along with East Lyme and Lyman Memorial. Kostek said she attended that event, as did her players.

    “They are beyond excited,” she said of the Lancers’ reaction to playing at the Sun. “A lot of them went last year and they were super jealous. They were completely stoked they get to be in (those teams’) shoes this year.”

    Waterford graduated several pieces from last year’s team which finished 21-6 and reached the semifinals of the Class M state tournament, but returns ECC tournament MVP Emerson Lane, a middle hitter.

    “When they’re on fire, they’re on fire,” Kostek said of this year’s team, “but at the same time you remember every year is a different year. I think we’re pretty well-rounded.”

    Soccer showdown

    Waterford’s last win against East Lyme in girls’ soccer came in 2020, a stretch of games between the rivals which included East Lyme’s victory in the 2021 ECC Division I tournament championship game.

    That’s why Waterford’s 2-1 win over the Vikings on Monday night meant so much.

    “The kids were pumped,” said Waterford coach Chris Ghiglia, whose team captured the ALS Cup with the victory. “They all wanted to take selfies with the trophy. It was a great night.

    “... Both teams had good student sections there. A lot of people from the communities came out, a lot of people that have been around both programs for a long time. It was a really good crowd, really energetic. Both teams just went at it for 80 minutes.”

    Camryn Dickinson, a junior, scored both goals for Waterford, the game-winner coming on a free kick with about 22 minutes left. The Lancers, who scored 25 goals last season, have notched 30 this year in eight games, meanwhile allowing just three.

    Ghiglia credited the Waterford defense, which was without injured senior defender Emilia Podeszwa, for containing East Lyme’s explosive front line. Allison Cioci played well in the back for the Lancers, he said, along with Angeles Pina-Rodriguez, who moved into Podeszwa’s spot.

    Waterford is 7-1 and ranked fourth in the latest state poll for Class M/S teams. East Lyme is 6-3-1.

    v.fulkerson@theday.com

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