POINTS WILL BE AT PREMIUM IN NLC SWIM FINAL
Ink Free News / Sports on Thursday, January 28, 2021
By Mike Deak
DUNLAP and MIDDLEBURY – If anything, there should be a real element of parity at the Northern Lakes Conference Boys Swim Championships on Saturday. If Thursday was any indication, each of the championship rounds will be hotly contested.
Concord, which ran the table at 7-0 in the regular season round robin, qualified 16 swimmers and three relays for the finals, including five top times frontlined by all three relays. But Wawasee has 15 swims in the championship round, Goshen has 13, Northridge has 11 and Warsaw has 10 among the results from the preliminary rounds held at Concord and Northridge Thursday night.
In keeping theme with how the girls championships were held two weeks ago, the prelims were conducted in two locations with events starting at exactly the same time. Thursday night had four teams – Wawasee, Plymouth, Mishawaka and Concord – run its prelim rounds at the Concord Aquatic Center. The other four NLC programs – Warsaw, NorthWood, Goshen and Northridge – held its events at the exact same time at the Northridge Natatorium.
Warsaw has a frontrunner in two events, with Michael Ray the clubhouse leader in both sprint freestyles. Ray posted a 22.45 in the 50 free and came back for a 49.00 in the 100 free. Ian Wihebrink will also be in contention for a pair of titles, placing third in the individual medley (1:52.75) and second in the breaststroke (1:00.74), the latter just a half-second off of Concord’s Brayden Sollars’ pace of 1:00.28.
Rounding out the Warsaw championship qualifiers were Nathan Taylor in third in the butterfly (56.38), Gabe Bowers eighth in the fly (59.02) and Cooper Archer eighth in the individual medley (2:11.45).
All three of Warsaw’s relays qualified for the championship, and the Tigers will have three divers compete Friday night in the diving final at Northridge.
The Warriors will have a say in who wins the team title, with a dozen swimmers vying for their respective titles. Five swimmers are eligible in two events each, with Nate Harper in the IM (2:05.33, 3rd) and backstroke (55.58, 2nd); Camden Powell in the 200 free (1:54.45, 5th) and 100 free (52.81, 6th); Nathan Kryder in the 200 free (1:53.21, 4th) and butterfly (56.23, 2nd); Zeke Keim in the 500 free (5:07.17, 3rd) and backstroke (56.82, 3rd); and Joshua Metcalf in the 50 free (23.86, 6th) and 100 free (52.95, 7th).
Karlson Hand sits sixth in the IM (2:10.59) and Blake Roose also sits sixth in the 500 free (5:09.58) for the Warriors. Wawasee will have two divers competing Friday night and all three of its relays in contention.
NorthWood’s Joe Hahn will be in a dogfight for a pair of title chases, sitting second in the 50 free (22.58) and fourth in the 100 free (50.19), within a quarter-second of Ray in the 50 and one second of Ray in the 100. The Panthers also have Karson Kirby alive in the 50, posting a 24.38 for the eighth spot.
The Minutemen have the numbers on the field, but also will have a physical advantage on old nemesis Northridge. The Raiders have nine championship slots filled, but had its top-seeded 400 free relay disqualified and do not have a diver posted on the Friday heat sheet. The Raiders do have three top times posted from Thursday, with Luke Dibley posting a pair in the 500 free (4:48.06) and backstroke (55.09), and Tristan Bratt in the IM (2:01.66).
Concord’s Tommy Brunner owns the top qualifier in the 200 freestyle (1:48.69). Goshen’s Nick Zehr is the top seed in the fly (55.10), leading the way for the RedHawks.
The NLC will conduct its diving championships Friday evening at Northridge, a 6 p.m. start with prelims and finals. The swim championships will begin at 1 p.m. Saturday, also at Northridge.