February 5, 2020

With Senior Star Danko Repeating as IM Champion, Hun Swimming has Solid Performance at Counties

INDIVIDUAL BRILLIANCE: Hun School girls’ swimmer Abbie Danko heads to victory in the 200-meter individual medley at the Mercer County Championships last Saturday. Senior Danko, who also took fourth in the 100 backstroke, helped Hun place sixth in the team standings at the competition. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

When Abbie Danko won the 200-meter individual medley at the Mercer County Championships in 2019, it helped set the tone for the Hun School girls’ swim squad as it went on to win the program’s first-ever team title at the competition.

Danko and her teammates were fired up to defend their title last weekend as they returned to WW/P-North for the 2020 county meet.

“We were so excited, we knew we may not win again, but we were just excited to come and swim,” said senior star and captain Danko. “It is a fast meet always so you can get some of your best times. It was great.”

Coming up with a fast swim, Danko repeated as the county 200 IM champion, clocking a winning time of 2:26.88.

“I really wanted to win it again, but I knew that there were some good swimmers; the girl I went against last year was really, really fast, and there were some incoming freshmen,” said Danko.

“I set that goal early on that I wanted to win it and then I just went out and did it.”

In achieving her goal, Danko had to come from behind to edge Ashley Agogliati of WW/P-North.

“I was a little bit worried, but I knew when I was with everybody on the breaststroke that I just had to close and I would hopefully pull it out,” added Danko.

“It was great, it meant so much to me. This is our second counties and it is my last one. It is really upsetting but I am happy to go out with a win.”

Danko went on to take fourth in the 100 backstroke, helping Hun take sixth in the team standings in the competition won by WW/P-North

“I was really happy with it,” said Danko of her backstroke swim. “I wanted to get third but it is a best time for me. I will take what I can get.”

With the state Prep meet and Eastern championships coming up, Danko is looking to produce some more good times.

“I know there are going to be a lot of fast swimmers so hopefully I can bust out some best times and maybe get top threes at states,” said Danko.

“I have been pushing hard at practice all week. I rested a little bit for this meet but not compared to how I will rest for Easterns.”

Hun head coach Joan Nuse was happy to see Danko pull out the IM title with the big final push.

“That was awesome; she worked it and she didn’t give up,” said Nuse.

“She was great throughout the whole meet, cheering on her teammates and helping lead that.”

While Hun didn’t repeat as county champion, Nuse was proud of how her swimmers competed.

“They did a great job,” said Nuse, who got a third place finish from senior Marie-Eve Hebert in the 100 butterfly. “We have got new personnel, they went out and did really well.”

In addition, the Hun boys’ squad did well, finishing ninth in the team standings. “Having so many people make the A and B finals was awesome,” said Nuse.

“A bunch of the boys made it this year; last year none of them made individual finals.”

With Hun competing in the state Prep meet on February 5 at Lawrenceville, Nuse believes her squad can build on its county experience.

“It is a good experience, especially for a lot of the young kids,” said Nuse.

“Sophia [Burton] and Charlotte [Petty] now have this under their belt before they go to states. For Nick [Danko] and Luke [Cura] to get in and have this experience as well is wonderful.”

No matter what happens at the Prep meet, the Hun program is headed in the right direction. “It has been great,” said Nuse. “They are continuing to grow and improve.”

Reflecting on her four years with the team, Danko believes the foundation is in place for future success. 

“The kids, Ms. Nuse, and the other coaches have made it so fun for me,” said Danko, who is headed to Bates College, where she will be competing for its women’s swimming program.

“We have come a long way. In my freshman year, we had a few good swimmers come in and we really worked hard to build the team up and make a name for it. People know us here this year. It is exciting to see how far we have come. We have a lot of good swimmers who came in this year so I am sure we will be making progress next year.”