WHO WILL RISE TO THE SURFACE?
StaceyPageOnline / Sports on Thursday, February 14, 2019
WARSAW – Valentine’s Day is here, and it’s now time to give some love to the boys swimmers as their sectional series is upon us. The individuals and teams across the state will begin sectional preliminary rounds tonight and wrap up Saturday with championship rounds. Local teams are descending upon both Northridge and Warsaw sectionals with their sights set on Indianapolis and the IHSAA State Finals next weekend at IUPUI.
Tigers, Eagles Set To Battle
Heading into the Warsaw Sectional, the incumbent Tigers are again the team to beat as it seeks its 12th straight team title and 20th overall. Warsaw enters tonight’s sectional prelims with the top seed in seven of the 11 swim events, including all three relays and two individuals with two events covered.
Warsaw brings in the top relay for the medley (1:40.37), 200 free (1:29.40) and 400 free (3:29.96) and likely won’t get much opposition aside from Columbia City, which is the two-seed in each relay. Grant Knight is the swimmer to beat in the breaststroke, coming in the only one to break one minute all season, his 56.39 well below the state cut time of 58.33. Knight is also the top seed in the individual medley at 1:59.99, with City’s Aaron Fix the only other within earshot at 2:02.93. Tiger senior Alex Cook is looking to crack the state finals in his last go-round in the Warsaw pool with top times in both the 50 and 100 freestyles, sitting at 22.12 and 49.39.
Columbia City comes in with top times in the butterfly, held by Ryan DeVito at 53.92, and Aaron Fix in the backstroke at 54.83. Culver Academy’s Mitchell Schott is the apex leader in both the 200 and 500 freestyles at 1:45.92 and 4:49.12.
City’s relays, along with some quality depth that includes speed swimmer Charles Vega in both the 50 and 100 freestyles and DeVito in the 200 and Fix in the IM should give the Eagles plenty of points for a possible upset.
“We know all about Columbia City and how good they are,” said Warsaw head coach Tony DeBrota. “We swam against them earlier this year and they pushed us all over the place. In a sectional setting, they can cause problems because their top swimmers will score a lot of points.”
Warsaw could also see gains from Michael Ray in the 100 free, Zach LaLonde in the backstroke and Nick Bazzoni in the breaststroke.
Tippecanoe Valley will need to top its best to make the state cuts or challenge for sectional titles. It’s top events coming in are Brandon Hoffman in the 50 free and Mason Stephen in the 100 free.
Manchester’s Parker York is a contender in both the 50 and 100 frees, representing some of the top individual talent at the Warsaw Sectional. Also look for Grant Dale of Northfield in the butterfly and backstroke, Rochester’s Mason Beall in the 200 and 500 freestyles and teammate Reece Renie in the 50, and Culver Academy’s 400 free relay team to push for a state spot.
Prelims begin tonight at 5:30 p.m. at the Warsaw Community Pool. Diving begins at 9 a.m. Saturday with its preliminary rounds and swimming and diving championships begin at 1 p.m.
Chalk Dust At The Natatorium
The heat sheets for the Northridge Sectional lends to the Aerosmith song “Same Old Song And Dance”, but history will be written with possibly a different pre-text.
Concord comes in for the first time since 1993 as the defending champion, claiming the team title a year ago to break the longstanding Northridge stronghold on the sectional team titles. The Minutemen bring in seven of the top times to tonight’s prelims, led by all three of its relays in the medley (1:36.90), 200 (1:28.43) and 400 (3:18.87). Kal Findley is the frontrunner in both the IM (1:54.58) and backstroke (52.53) and teammate Matt Bond leads both the 100 free (48.40) and the breaststroke (58.10).
The Minutemen should also score points with Will Harris, who is listed with quality times in both the 50 and fly and has the ability to win both events. Concord diver Aaron Leas will also contend for a regional berth.
Northridge, as usual, will have a say in every event other than diving, which it does not have an active participant. Otherwise, it has nearly half its roster swimming in two events with a shot at either a title or state cut time. Nick Dibley leads the way with the top time in both the 200 and 500 frees at 1:43.34 and 4:39.74. Joey Garberick is the top seed in the 50 at 21.96, but will obviously be pushed to eclipse the 21 plateau with seven other swimmers coming in with times under 24 seconds.
The Raiders also have all three of its relays in position to contend, along with low times from Turner Koch in the 200 and fly, Michael VanCoppenolle in the IM and breast, Dylan Piehl in the 50 and 100, Tristan Bratt in the 100, Luke Dibley in the 500 and back and Garberick in the breast.
Wawasee may not have the depth to land a bunch of state spots, but have a couple individuals who are primed to challenge for at least state cuts. Jared Krugman is within earshot in both the 200 and 500 freestyles and Daegan Kingrey also has a chance in both the 50 and 100 freestyles.
Elkhart Central has a top seed in Carter Rief in the fly at 52.40, and also has Eric Kelm ready in the fly and back, and Devin Brink in the 50.
Goshen doesn’t have the depth to win a team title, but brings in some quality swimmers in Mason Schrock, Alex Ramos and Nick Zehr.
Others to watch in the sectional are NorthWood’s Jason McNeill, Angola’s Zac Creagger and Elkhart Memorial’s David Welles. Panther diver Caden Jenkins comes in as the Northern Lakes Conference champion, and after his first tournament win in January, was optimistic to perform well again on the bigger stage.
“I feel like people are going to try a lot harder to try to knock me out of my place, so I need to stay consistent and just throw the dives the best I can,” Jenkins said after winning the NLC. “There will be a lot of nerves, but it’s not something I haven’t done before. I just need to stay focused and do what I know how to do.”
Prelims begin tonight at 6 p.m. at the Northridge Natatorium. Diving begins at 9 a.m. Saturday with its preliminary rounds and swimming and diving championships begin at 1 p.m.