Will there be much drama this weekend in the area boys swimming sectionals?
While the Northern Lakes Conference boys swimming finals provided some drama with Northridge and Warsaw pitting most of its stars head-to-head, the separation of those two programs may take out some of the drama heading into the state tournament.
Can The Raiders Be Beaten?
Northridge, the prohibitive favorites in just about every event at this weekend’s Concord Sectional, mirror the similar expectation of Warsaw which hosts its own sectional. If there is a glimmer of hope for the other 10 schools in the sectional, it came from Wawasee at the NLC.
Wawasee’s Zac Hershberger outlasted the field in the 100 freestyle to win at 49.98 and will likely enter the tournament the favorite in the breaststroke after taking runner-up honors to Spencer Davidson of Warsaw, who vacates to swim in his own sectional. Sebastian List also broke up the Northridge rhythm by pulling off a rare tie in the championship of the 200 free relay with Ridge’s Seth Cripe.
With a set of medley and freestyle relays that are frontloaded, Wawasee may not win them all, but could meet the magical state qualifying time which supercedes championship tags.
“It’s really not about racing the person next to you, it’s about racing for time,” said Wawasee head coach Julie Robinson in trying to handicap her kid’s chances against a star-studded sectional field. “You can’t control what Northridge or Concord or whoever is going to do. You just have to go out and swim your race.”
Wawasee’s 200 and 400 free relays teams have outside shots to qualify for state through the standard if they hustle. The state standard in the 200 relay is 1:28.33, Wawasee clocked a 1:32.77 at NLCs while posting a 3:24.72 in the 400 relay, which has a standard of 3:14.06.
Others to watch for Wawasee are Luke Smith in the 50 and Logan Brugh in the butterfly and the 500 freestyle.
Northridge have won 10 straight sectional team titles and 11 overall heading into the weekend. Leading the Raiders will be Austin Flager, Jon Stoller, AJ Bernth, Joe Mueller and Cripe.
Tigers In The Hunt
Head coach Nate Long isn’t just confident his team can contend at the Warsaw Sectional this weekend, he is hoping to have multiple kids competing for championships.
“It basically shapes up that we don’t have a sectional like they do up at Concord,” Long said. “So I’ve been telling the boys what momentum we had from the NLC, we have to put into sectional. Tell them we are going to take every event, we are going to win every relay, we are not just going to win, but qualify state cut times with other kids. That’s the mindset we have to have.”
Leading the pack for the Tigers are Jayden Parrett and Spencer Davidson.
“Rochester has a couple guys and Culver has a couple guys…but there is nobody in our sectional that can’t be beat by somebody from Warsaw,“ Long stated. “But vice versa, there is nobody from Warsaw that can’t be beat by somebody from somewhere else. It comes down to heart. Are you guys going to swim like you did at NLCs, or are you going to take it for granted and allow an upset to happen.”
Spencer Davidson brought home a title in the breaststroke at the NLC and finished as runner-up in two other events. Davidson swam a 59.67 in the breaststroke, which unofficially would put Davidson among the top 20 in the state according to the VarVee rankings.
Davidson will bring in the top time in the fly (54.12) and helped the medley relay to a runner-up 1:39.68 against a Northridge team ranked in the top five in the state.
Parrett’s 50 (22.30) and backstroke (53.47) should be good enough to get out of Warsaw, according to Long, and diver Dean Katris should have a good push after scoring nearly 400 points at the conference championships.
Warsaw’s 13-team sectional has seen the Tigers win the past five team titles, and Warsaw have claimed 13 sectional trophies in its program history.
Swimming at both sectionals, along with the rest of the state, will begin Thursday evening with preliminaries in the 11 swim events. Diving will begin Saturday morning with its eight-dive prelims. The championship rounds at both sites will begin at 1 p.m. with both swimming and diving events.