WARSAW – It’s bound to happen every year. About a week into December, Northridge and Warsaw collide in swimming and old questions are answered and new questions arise. The sample set Thursday night had Warsaw find it’s far behind the perennial state contenders in a pair of lopsided Northern Lakes Conference losses.
Northridge’s boys didn’t step on the throttle for much of the meet, shifting around a lot of its big guns but still came away with a 113.5-62.5 win while the girls from Raiderland swam a lot of its studs in normal places and put together a 118-68 victory.
The meet, which didn’t start until the bylaw-allowed 6:45 p.m., didn’t see a ton of frontline power finishes from the pair of defending sectional team champions. Instead, a slow drag of practice laps for over an hour dug into very few dual contested events. The front third of the meet saw Warsaw take just two events, both in the 50 freestyle where Brenna Morgan fended off Ridge’s Kenzie Weber at 25.03 to Weber’s 25.50. On the boys side, Alex Cook came back in the final 20 yards to clip Bryce Brouillette with a 23.51 win, .15 ahead of the Ridge senior.
The 100 freestyle also had close finishes, this time both Warsaw studs were on the short end of touches at the wall. Northridge’s Lauren Miller, who should enter the conference championships as a slight favorite over the three-time defending event champion Morgan, bested the Warsaw senior head-to-head at 54.12-54.60. Connor Glenn pulled away in the boys race at 51.11, beating Cook’s 52.31.
Warsaw would get two more wins, first the girls 200 free relay of Olivia Herman, Laurel Moeller, Delaney Wihebrink and Morgan closing at 1:43.70 against a quartet of quality Ridge swimmer’s 1:43.87.
Nick Zogbi won the backstroke at 59.11, edging Nick Dibley’s 59.24 on pure reach.
In the breaststroke, Sydnee Emerson of Northridge held off a valiant late charge from Wihebrink to win at 1:09.48, Wihebrink coming home at 1:10.36.
“Swimming against a team like Northridge, just don’t get intimidated,” stated Warsaw head coach Tony DeBrota. “They are a great team, don’t get me wrong, but swim your own race. Stick with them. I told the team to worry about their own race. If you get into a tight race at the end, then go for it. But they can’t do anything about your own swims, they can’t jump into your lane, it’s just you and the clock. When you swim scared, you have to use it to push forward.
“Some of the kids were tense at the beginning, you could see it. But I saw a lot of high spirits at the end. We had some PRs. That was good to see.”
Warsaw enters a stretch of its calendar DeBrota feels will show him what his club has in the tank. A double dual on Saturday at Goshen with Memorial sits ahead of a Tuesday dual with Plymouth, giving Warsaw four NLC pushes in six days. Then comes the Fort Wayne Carroll Invite on the 17th and mercifully a home dual with sectional rival Columbia City on the 20th before a competition-free stretch until after the new year.
“Lean on your teammates, and we are seeing it every now and then,” DeBrota said of the upcoming schedule. “We gave them a day off, let them recharge a little. Take the day to analyze what we can do and where we are at this point. Make sure we’re putting a 10 in for effort. As a whole, we’re still all there. We just have to keep leaning on each other and supporting one another. The upperclassmen will need to keep working with the underclassmen. If we can keep it all together, we should be in great shape for January and February.”