TIGERS, WARRIORS, PANTHERS ALL LAND TOP SEEDS FOR SWIM FINALS
Ink Free News / Sports on Thursday, February 18, 2021
By Mike Deak
WARSAW – It could set up to be a banner weekend for several area swimmers after the preliminary round of the IHSAA Boys Swimming Sectionals. With locals in the lead lane at both the Elkhart and Warsaw tournaments, it will be the start of something big this weekend.
Warsaw will be in the mix for several opportunities at its home pool this Saturday.
Both its medley relay (1:42.56) and 200 free relay (1:33.04) will come into Saturday as the lead dog. Both Michael Ray and Ian Wihebrink are also primed for titles and a ticket to the IHSAA State Finals. Ray is the leader in the 100 free (48.25) with a decent lead on the field, and Wihebrink, barring unforeseen circumstances, should roll in the breaststroke (1:00.44), a full five seconds ahead.
Ray is sitting second in the 50 behind Northfield’s Grant Dale (21:59) and Wihebrink is second to Culver Academy’s Mitchell Schott in the 200 free (1:41.78), except Schott holds a 13-second lead heading into Saturday. Dale is also the leader in the backstroke (53.40) and Schott the 500 free (4:40.12).
Francis Ellert of Culver Academy is the clubhouse leader in the butterfly (54.62) and individual medley (2:02.10) and the Academy has the top 400 free relay (3:20.98).
Warsaw’s Nate Taylor is sitting second in the fly and fourth in the 500, Cooper Archer is fifth in both the IM and backstroke, Gabe Bowers fourth in the 200 free and seventh in the fly and Elijah Zaugg slipped into eighth in the backstroke. Warsaw’s 400 free relay is sitting fifth.
Tippecanoe Valley will have several finals entrants, led by Brandon Hoffman third in both the 100 free and backstroke. Carson Parker is also in two finals, sitting fourth in the breaststroke and seventh in the IM. Valley’s medley relay is third and fourth in the 400 free relay.
Warsaw has won 13 straight sectional team titles, but is going to have to count its pennies in the consolation rounds after qualifying just 11 to the championship round. The rub is Columbia City has 16 in championship swims and Culver Academy has 15, so points will be at a premium to set up an interesting team race.
Wawasee and NorthWood both have top times heading into the championship round at the Elkhart Aquatic Center.
Panther Joe Hahn leads a tight field in the 50 freestyle, his 22.28 among four swimmers that are all sub-23 and all eight championship qualifiers sub-24. Hahn is also fifth in the 100 free and has NorthWood sitting fourth in the 200 free relay and fifth in the medley relay. The Panthers are also sitting seventh in the 400 free relay.
Wawasee also has a frontrunner in good position for a title in Nathan Harper. His 55.36 in the backstroke is about a second faster than the field, and Harper is lurking in the IM, sitting third.
The battle for the title in the butterfly should be exciting, as Elkhart’s Cohen Jones is the leader at 55.04, but the top four are within .18 of each other, which includes Wawasee’s Nathan Kryder, who is second at 55.10. Kryder is also seventh and alive in the 200 free.
Other Warriors involved in championship swims include Camden Powell in the 100 and 200 freestyles, Joshua Metcalf in the 50 and 100 freestyles, Zeke Keim in the backstroke, Blake Roose in the 500 free and Karlson Hand in the IM. Wawasee’s medley and 400 free relay are both fourth and the 200 is fifth.
Clubhouse leaders at Elkhart include Northridge’s Luke Dibley in the 200 free (1:45.86) and 500 free (4:51.67) and Tristan Bratt in the IM (2:00.83). Elkhart has the lead in both the medley relay (1:43.01) and 200 free relay (1:31.48) and Lion Lucas Byrd leads the 100 free (46.64) and breaststroke (58.55).
Concord is pacing the 400 free relay at 3:26.78.