WARSAW – On paper, this matchup was supposed to be so much more. But reality set in Thursday in the boys and girls swim duals between Warsaw and visiting Northridge. Suspensions in the Warsaw boys program and an incredible amount of depth in the Northridge girls program made the finals scores almost an afterthought.
Northridge buried Warsaw’s girls, 138-47, and dismantled what was left of the Tiger boys, 129-56.
The boys races were supposed to be setting up a decent December preview of what could be another super Northern Lakes Conference showdown in late January. However, Warsaw had eight swimmers on the deck in street clothes serving suspensions for various team rules violations and another starter out sick. With only a handful of ‘A’ laners left, Northridge swept five of the 12 events while the Tigers only had one event winner.
Only a pair of Tiger swimmers, Matt Wildman and Josh Miller, did anything against the dominant Ridge lineup. Wildman had the only Warsaw win, a 51.40 pull in the 100 freestyle, and was runner-up in the breaststroke at 1:04.46 to Jesse Drake’s 1:02.52. Miller was second in the butterfly (58.18) and backstroke (56.56), with Jeremy Burbrink (55.11) and Seth Cripe (55.46) the respective winners.
“This definitely gives me an idea of where we can put some of our younger guys,” said Warsaw head coach Tony DeBrota, trying to put a positive spin on a bad situation. “We had a lot of seniors that were out for this meet, so this gives us an idea of where we will be at next year.”
Northridge head coach Joe Keller was disappointed about the situation with Warsaw, but had his own rant following the meet, to which he unloaded some very poignant thoughts on the NLC swim season at large.
“Last year, this was a dual with us, Memorial and Warsaw on a Tuesday night and we were at Memorial,” began Keller. “I don’t fault Tony, he had to do what he had to with his kids if they broke rules. But we could have saved the expense of the travel, and in addition to that, these kids could have been home by 7 p.m. and they will now get home at 10 p.m. I think it’s stupid.
“If I was the superintendent of a school corporation and my AD or coach could not set a schedule to have three teams in a meet, to save these kids the time when they are going to finals next week, I would fire them. It’s fiscally irresponsible. It’s educationally irresponsible. And I blame our conference for the fact that we have to come down here for this. And I’m not happy about it.”
The girls races were almost completely slanted in Northridge’s favor. The Lady Raiders swept eight of the 11 swim events, and went one-two in another.
Warsaw’s Brenna Morgan was the lone swimmer to break through the Northridge force field of dominance, winning the 50 freestyle at 25.60, but found herself on the losing end of the 100 freestyle for the first time this season. Katie Hughes, who jumped out of the 500 to take on Morgan in the 100, beat Morgan head’s up 55.16-56.26 raising a few eyebrows.
“Brenna got a good challenge there,” DeBrota said of the 100 loss to Hughes. “I think this is a good chance for her to see what type of challenges Northridge will give her. We’ll sit down and talk to her about staying in the zone and get ready for that next conference meet.”
Warsaw’s 200 free relay team of Morgan, Erin Sandberg, Jess Haines and Lauren Kuhl finished second at 1:53.23, but a full seven seconds slower than Northridge’s ‘A’ relay.
Keller, who wasn’t really in the mood to analyze any of the races, noted his focus is solely on the Homestead duals this Saturday. DeBrota, on the other hand, is looking to conference matches with Goshen this Saturday and two against Memorial and Plymouth next week in preparation for the Dec. 20 trip to the Zionsville Invite before the holiday break.
DeBrota fully expects his teams to be at full strength going forward and the issues put behind them.
“This wasn’t our best meet, but we’ll put it behind us,” DeBrota said. “With Zionsville coming up next week, that’s really where our focus goes now. We have four meets in eight days. We have a little bit of midseason rest coming up. We just want to see what we can do at Zionsville.”