MIDDLEBURY — It was business as usual for the Northridge boys and girls swim teams Tuesday night. The Raiders welcomed in Wawasee for a dual and once again showed why they are the class of the Northern Lakes Conference. The boys picked up a 127-56 win over the Warriors, while the girls meet was a 131-54 final.
The evening, though mostly about the deep and talented Northridge squads, had a spotlight on one Wawasee swimmer in particular. Paige Miller was the lone swimmer for Wawasee, in either the boys or girls meets, to pick up an event win. Miller swam to first in the 200 free (1:54.86) as well as the 500 free (5:04.40).
In both events Miller topped Northrdige’s Katie Hughes. Hughes swam a 1:56.35 in the 200 and a 5:07. 57 in the 500. The two swimmers have a long history that was last left off at the 2016 IHSAA State Swimming Championships in Indianapolis. At that meet Hughes and Miller took second and fourth, respectively, in the 500 free. With both swimmers having their eyes set on returning to the podium in Indy again this February, Tuesday’s meet was just a small preview of the postseason excitement to come between the two NLC standouts.
“I think the really cool thing about Paige and Katie is that Paige looks at her more as a teammate now with them both going to Purdue,” said Wawasee head coach Julie Robinson. “So, her focus is not on the race between her and Katie, but about her times. She actually had a plan written out of what she wanted to go by each 50 and she pretty much stuck to her place and hit the time she was looking to hit. It was more of a personal race than a race against Katie.”
With Miller on track for where she wants to be moving forward, the rest of the team is not far behind from hitting that stride, especially in the distance event.
Freshman Ella Park once again hit a lifetime best in both the 200 free (2:07.82) and 500 (5:37.35), taking fourth in each event. Ali Troutman (6:35.99) also enjoyed a lifetime best in the 500. Lexi Bellamy had a lifetime bests in the 200 IM (2:56.52) and 100 fly (1:23.45) while senior Jasmine Morehead had a best in the 100 free (1:05.62). Ebba Bjurman turned in a lifetime best of her own in the 100 back (1:09.53, that time placed her second in the event.
Shelby Adams took second for the Warriors in the 100 breast with a 1:12.45, narrowly getting edged by Northridge’s August Hartzell (1:12.30). Tessa Freel was third in the 50 free with a time of 28.88, Morehead was fourth (30.03). The Raiders swept first place for all three relays in both the boys and girls meets. In diving it was Rylee Dahlman winning diving for Northridge with a 280.35, Wawasee’se Riley Kunkle was fourth with a 144.10.
Diving was where the boys picked up their lone individual wins on the night. Austin Dunithan led the way with a 178.60. Brady Claassen was second (166.75) and Dane Jenkins was third (126.80).
In the swimming events, the Warriors did not have any top times and took second in two events.
Brady Robinson earned second in both the 200 IM and the 100 fly. In the IM Robinson swam a 1:59.81, coming in behind Spencer Lehman’s 1:54.53. Camden Koch edged out Robinson (55.31) in the fly with a 55.16. That fly time proved to be a lifetime best for the Warrior junior.
Brett Willaman (53.72) and Collin Thomas (58.87) each had lifetime bests in the 100 free. Thomas also had a best in the 10 back (1:09.94). Isaiah Metcalf (5:22.61) and Eric Park (5:29.95) each earned lifetime bests in the 500 free.
The meet, as a whole, seemed to lack a lot of enthusiasm from either team. Wawasee’s coach just chalks that up as still being on Christmas break.
“I was looking for a little bit faster times today,” Robinson admitted. “But the reality of it is, for us, is that this is one of the first times we’ve swam Northridge while we’re still in Christmas break training. So, the kids are really tired. I think Northridge is in the same position we are. They’re hitting those double, their bodies are exhausted. It really was a meet about seeing what you could do, being as tired as you will be all season.”
Wawasee’s boys and girls teams are now each a 3-3 overall in the NLC. The Warriors finish their regular season slate Saturday morning at Goshen.