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Written By StaceyPageOnline / Sports on Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Warsaw’s Delaney Wihebrink enters the Warsaw Girls Swim Sectional as a top seed in two events, both the individual medley and backstroke. (File photo by Mike Deak)

The stakes are as high as they can be all year, and where the word ‘tapered’ will be spoken more than any other time of the high school calendar.

The girls swimming and diving sectionals are here, with qualifying starting on Thursday and championships concluding on Saturday

Here’s a look at what’s to come at both the Northridge and Warsaw sectionals, where local teams will compete.

At Warsaw – Thu. 5:30 p.m.; Sat. 9 a.m. & 1 p.m.

The team taking the championship at the Warsaw sectional will have endured a dogfight as multiple teams are bringing in quality outfits. Look for the host Warsaw, Rochester and Culver Academy to all score big points Saturday as the trio will likely fill the top three team slots. The Academy comes in as the two-time defending team champion and has won four of the past five, only Warsaw breaking the string in 2014.

That could change as Warsaw brings in seven of the 11 top swim seeds, including the 50 and 100 freestyles by Brenna Morgan and the individual medley and backstroke by Delaney Wihebrink. The Lady Tigers have the top three relay times coming in, the most lopsided the 400, to which Warsaw broke the school record in the event this year at 3:42.18.

Rochester will have the duo of Abi McCarter and Madelyn Sailors at its forefront, McCarter the top seed in the breaststroke and Sailors right on Morgan’s tail in the 50. Rochester is within striking distance of Warsaw in both the medley and 200 free relay times.

Culver Academy doesn’t have a top time coming in, but has several swims peppered around the leaders.

Cass freshman Hannah Young could be one to watch, bringing in the top times in the sectional in both the 200 and 500 freestyles.

“I think we have a lot less nerves with conference out of the way,” said Warsaw head coach Tony DeBrota. “I think a lot of them are looking forward to this weekend. They know that everything we have worked for and talked about all year comes down to this. We know from the numbers that Rochester, Culver Academy, some others will come at us with from all angles and we’re going to have to fight for everything here.”

At Northridge – Thu. 5:30 p.m.; Sat. 9 a.m. & 1 p.m.

Concord, Wawasee and Elkhart Central would love to knock off Northridge, but the Lady Raiders may have just too much depth in the team chase this year.

What should make the annual packed house at the Northridge Natatorium buzz are several individual races that won’t be dominated by Raider swim places.

All four of the freestyle events should be exciting, especially a wide open 100 free. Five swimmers are within a second of each other in seed times going into Thursday, with Ridge’s Jenna Nethercutt leading the way at 55.08 and NorthWood’s Kate Jarvis, who is .08 off a school record with her 55.88, is within reach. The 50 will feature burners Kenzie Weber of Northridge and Maddisen Lantz of Concord. Both the 200 and 500 will feature two of the top swimmers in the state in Paige Miller of Wawasee and Katie Hughes of Northridge. Both were top-four at the state final a year ago in the 500, Hughes second and Miller fourth, but Miller turning the tables this year by winning both the 200 and 500 NLC titles against Hughes. Jarvis could podium in the 200 as well and possibly sneak a state cut.

Wawasee has a pair of sleepers in Alyssa Koch in the backstroke, who has rebounded from pneumonia this season to return to form, and Shelby Adams in the breaststroke, who holds the school record in the event with one more crack at lowering it.

“This has been a really fun group of girls in watching them grow from the beginning on the season to the conference and now sectional season,” said Wawasee head coach Julie Robinson. “Practices have been fun and they are an exciting group of girls. This really should be fun.”

Ridge has the top seed in all three relays and eight of the 11 swims, and features three of the top four divers coming into the sectional including NLC champion Rylee Dahlman.

Added NorthWood head coach Tim Stutsman, “It’s surely going to be tough. Kate did a magnificent job dropping time at conference, and now being tapered, we’re hoping to see if she can set a school record in the 100. If she can push that, maybe she can make a state cut time.

“Everyone has to have dreams, right?”

State Standards for 2016-17
200 Medley Relay: 1:49.48
200 Freestyle: 1:52.99
200 Individual Medley: 2:07.08
50 Freestyle: 24.18
100 Butterfly: 57.07
100 Freestyle: 52.42
500 Freestyle: 5:04.94
200 Freestyle Relay: 1:39.34
100 Backstroke: 57.89
100 Breaststroke: 1:05.94
400 Freestyle Relay: 3:35.63

Posted In: Girl's Sports > Swimming and Diving