NLC SHOWDOWN SET FOR SATURDAY
Ink Free News / Sports on Thursday, January 30, 2020
DUNLAP – For the first time in a long time, there is no clear-cut favorite heading into the finals of the Northern Lakes Conference Boys Swimming Championships.
Four different teams have at least 10 swimmers qualified for championship swims after Thursday’s prelim round at Concord. Northridge was impressive as usual at the top of the sheets, taking five top spots, but have just 10 entered in finals and will open Saturday without a diver. Concord has two relays and an individual at the top, Warsaw has two atop the lists and Goshen has a prelim leader.
Warsaw swam the top medley relay then had Grant Knight post a 57.96, within a second of his record from 2019, in the breaststroke. The Tigers enter 16 swimmers into the championship flight, but had its 200 free relay take a disqualification, which will cut crucial points. Knight is also alive in the individual medley, Michael Ray in the 100 and 200 freestyles, Nick Bazzoni in the 200 free and breaststroke – Knight and Bazzoni one and two – Gabe Bowers in the 200 free and butterfly, Cooper Archer in the IM and backstroke, Zach LaLonde in 500 free and backstroke. Making one event each are Ian Wihebrink in the breaststroke, Nate Taylor in the butterfly, and Mel Littlefield and Jacob Monesmith in the 50 free.
Wawasee, which didn’t have a top swim in prelims, did qualify 13 for the championship round and will have a legit shot at the team title. Several individuals are in two-swim title shots, with Karlson Hand in the IM and backstroke, Zeke Keim in the 500 free and backstroke, Alex Troutman in the IM and breaststroke, Bryce Knepp in the 50 and 100 freestyles, Daegan Kingery in the 50 and 100 freestyles and Nate Kryder in the 200 free and butterfly. Blake Roose made the finals of the 500 free. All three Wawasee relays qualified second.
Northridge’s top guns are primed to shine, with Luke Dibley with the top time in the 500 free (4:53.64) and backstroke (55.84), Tristan Bratt in the 200 free (1:48.73), Joey Garberick in the 100 free (49.13) and Turner Koch in the fly (53.88).
Concord’s Will Harris leads the pack in the 50 (21.59) and Goshen’s Nick Zehr leads the IM (2:02.67). The Minutemen have 14 swimmers in championship finals.
NorthWood has just one individual in a final, that being Joe Hahn in the 50 freestyle. Two of NorthWood’s relays also qualified. The Panthers will bring in one of the diving favorites in Caden Jenkins, who cracked 300 earlier this season to break the school record. Jenkins is the defending NLC diving champion.
Diving begins Saturday at 9 a.m. at Concord and the swim finals are set to begin at 1 p.m. Concord won the NLC round robin with a 7-0 mark, followed by Warsaw at 6-1, Northridge at 5-2 and Wawasee at 4-3.