This past week, there were local teams either looking to finally break into the win column or to continue a fast start that began back when the season started.
The New Britain football team and Southington girls swim team both accomplished its goals this week, thanks to productive individual performances that either changed the narrative of the season or further cemented one.
The Hurricanes’ Tarik Hetmyer and the Blue Knights’ Meghan Hammarlund are this week’s Athletes of the Week for giving their teams exactly what was needed to come away with a victory.
New Britain grabbed its first win of the season on Friday afternoon (the game was moved up due to the EEE hazard), and the change in kickoff time also brought in a change of offensive scheme for the Hurricanes, with Hetmyer, a senior, being one of the main beneficiaries of the team’s now look.
Lining up as New Britain’s quarterback for most of the first half against Manchester, Hetmyer broke off a number of designed runs for productive yardage to give the Hurricanes their first lead of the season despite a crippling number of penalties on the offensive end. Hetmyer ran for 84 yards in the first half and finished the day with 92 yards on the ground, good for 6.6 yards per carry.
“Putting that offense in definitely helped,” head coach Tebucky Jones said of the new-look offense that saw Hetmyer, normally a running back and wide receiver, under center. “That was a good change.”
Later in the game, Hetmyer moved back to receiver and caught a 27-yard touchdown pass from Monte Dickson with 2:01 left in the fourth quarter to give New Britain a 14-0 lead. After the Red Hawks returned the ensuing kickoff back for a touchdown of their own, Hetmyer’s score proved to be huge, and helped bail New Britain out of more than 100 yards worth of penalties.
“Some plays we were on, and some we were off,” Hetmyer said. “But we were on for the plays we needed the most.”
Playing without leading rusher Jhorman Veilma, who was nursing an injury, Hetmyer’s breakout performance was massive for the Hurricanes, who badly needed a victory following a 0-2 start to the season.
“It feels great, but now that goes out of our heads and we have to worry about this week,” Hetmyer said. “We have to execute and get better in practice every day.”
Hammarlund has been executing on a daily basis for the Blue Knights this season, and is on track for another historic campaign in the pool. This past week, the junior was a double winner in the 100 butterfly and the 100 backstroke in Southington’s win against Bristol Eastern, finishing with times of 1:05.57 and 1:03.62, respectively. Hammarlund was also a part of the Blue Knights’ 200 and 400 medley relay teams that took first place on Wednesday.
Hammarlund’s double victory in individual events has been something of a habit so far this season. In two of Southington’s three meets this season (all wins), Hammarlund has been a double winner, and has taken first in at least one event since the season began, further continuing her dominance from a standout sophomore season where she was an all-conference selection for the second season in a row and a conference champion in the 100 backstroke and the 200 medley relay.
In just two seasons with the team, Hammarlund owns four school records, and will likely continue to rewrite those record books through her junior season. After a top-16 finish at last year’s State Open, Hammarlund is on pace to better that mark this year and complete another memorable season with Southington.
Ryan Chichester can be reached at (860) 801-5094 or email@example.com