MIDDLEBURY – It wasn’t clear whether Purdue University had a representative watching the Northern Lakes Conference girls swimming championships Saturday afternoon, but the Baby Boilers were in prime form. Future Boilermakers Paige Miller, Brenna Morgan and Katie Hughes were on top of six of the 12 championships at Northridge, where little deviated from the expected.
Miller, the long and rangy senior from Wawasee, posted wins in the 200 and 500 freestyles in the anticipated head-to-head battles with Hughes, the cheery and speedy senior from Northridge. Hughes, who came in as the top seed in both events from Thursday’s preliminaries, just couldn’t match the closing bursts of Miller in a 1:54.47 win in the 200 and 5:03.46 in the 500, in both cases Miller beating Hughes by a full length.
Hughes would still get the blue ribbons as part of the Raider 200 and 400 free relays, both of which were overwhelming champions. Ridge’s 200 was a full four seconds faster than runner-up Warsaw at 1:40.19, with Hughes anchoring with Kenzie Weber, Jenna Nethercutt and Jenna Miller. In the 400, Hughes again anchored Ridge to a win at 3:37.14, joining Lauren Miller, August Hartzell and Sydnee Emerson in a five-second romp over Concord and the rest.
Morgan, the quiet assassin from Warsaw, pulled off quite a feat Saturday in winning the 50 and 100 freestyles going away. Her two championships made it eight-for-eight in the two speed freestyles, the first Warsaw swimmer to do that since Nate Taylor did it over a decade ago and the first girl to sweep a career event since Brittany Robinson of Wawasee swept four years of the butterfly from 2009-12.
Morgan won the 50 at 24.45 after nearly false starting shortly before the final opened, then beat Northridge’s Lauren Miller (24.58) by an arm length. In the 100, the race wasn’t nearly as close, as Morgan kept well ahead of Weber and won handily at 51.99, over two seconds better than the Northridge freshman.
The Tiger senior, per usual, was reserved in her accomplishments, but did offer some insight on pulling the double for the fourth time.
“The 50 I was definitely very worried that I might be DQ’ed so I wasn’t sure if I had actually placed until I got out of the water,” Morgan said. “The 100, I was a little more secure and happy with the time. I haven’t hit 51 in a while.”
Concord had one champion in Olivia Trout in the breaststroke, winning at 1:08.57 after posting Thursday’s top prelim time. Her coach, Tom Johnson, was named Coach of the Year by his peers.
Otherwise, the perennial champs from Middlebury added another team title to the wall, its 15th in the past 16 years. Only Wawasee in 2014 has broken the streak. Nobody was close Saturday, as Northridge piled up 510 points, well ahead of Concord’s 444 points and Warsaw’s 289. Wawasee (254), Goshen (214), NorthWood (143), Memorial (123) and Plymouth (104) rounded out the team field.
Emerson won titles in the individual medley (2:07.98) and butterfly (58.00), Lauren Miller won the backstroke (57.63), Rylee Dahlman set a pool record in diving (495.35) and the Raiders claimed the medley relay (1:48.89) in meet record time, achieved by Miller, Nethercutt, Emerson and Weber.
Warsaw had Delaney Wihebrink in two finals, the IM (5, 2:18.61) and the back (3, 1:01.37), Olivia Herman in the 50 (8, 26.20) and the 100 consoles winner (57.79), Taylor Gunter in the fly (7, 1:05.38) and the IM consoles winner (2:28.34), Laurel Moeller in the breaststroke (7, 1:19.41) and the 200 consoles winner (2:06.31) and Ella Knight the breaststroke consoles winner (1:19.41).
“This is about what I expected to see happen,” said Warsaw head coach Tony DeBrota. “Audrey Curson jumping up a couple spots in the 500 was great to see. To see Brenna get two more championships is nice. I thought if we were going to make any moves today, it would be in consolation swims, and we had quite a few girls step up and perform well. I thought we delivered pretty well today.”
Wawasee had Shelby Adams in two finals, the IM (7, 2:21.20) and the breaststroke (5, 1:13.44), Ebba Bjurman in the back (7, 1:06.27), Ella Park in the 500 (4, 5:30.78) and Alyssa Koch the backstroke consoles winner (1:07.13).
“We had a lot of girls swim lifetime bests just to get into consoles,” stated Wawasee head coach Julie Robinson, who noted 11 swims on Saturday were lifetime bests. “Abby Hackleman’s lifetime best was a 1:16 in the 100 fly, she goes 1:11. Tessa (Freel) has never broken 28 in the 50 free, she goes 27. We had so many kids who just swam really well today. These were their best times, lifetime bests, season bests. It was neat to see them come out and race Thursday, but then come back again Saturday and race again.”
NorthWood had Kate Jarvis in the finals of the 100 (4, 55.88) and the 200 (4, 2:02.62).