DUNLAP – The day started with a mild upset, setting up a better than expected championship final at the Northern Lakes Conference boys swim meet Saturday at Concord High School.
Northridge was emphatic in claiming its 19th straight team title, scoring 521 points to runner-up Concord’s 345 points.
Warsaw stunned the capacity crowd right off the bat, zipping to a victory in the medley relay. The Tigers, which swam the medley Thursday night to a 1:49 and change prelim, had the quartet of Nick Zogbi, Grant Knight, Evan Borchers and Alex Cook stick with the favorites from Northridge. Knight gave the Tigers the lead with a blistering 26.17 split in the breaststroke leg, and Cook’s electric 22.06 freestyle anchor, beating Ridge closer Matthew Van Coppenolle by a stroke.
The wild celebration in the Warsaw camp seemed to energize more than just the Tiger stripes.
“I think the only people more surprised than me might be my coaching staff,” laughed Warsaw head coach Tony DeBrota of the medley win. “We were going for Concord, hopefully trying to give them a run for their money and all of a sudden, there’s Northridge. I think the swimmers were probably shocked too, but quietly they probably expected to be right near the front. I am as excited as anyone to see that win. We’ll take it.”
Warsaw wouldn’t win any other championship flight races, but did have some runner-up spots. The 200 free relay team from Tiger Town finished second with a time of 1:33.75, but well short of Ridge’s 1:29.51. Zogbi had one of his better individual efforts of the year in the backstroke, dropping 2.3 seconds off his prelim time in the backstroke for a 55.85 showing. Raider Camden Koch won going away at 53.64.
Knight and Concord’s Kallaghan Findley had a very entertaining breaststroke final, with Knight leading most of the first 75 yards. On the final turn, Knight hit the wall first, but Findley emerged from his turn almost dead even. In the next stroke, Findley pulled ahead and made the slight surge stand up for a 59.68 winner, Knight coming home at 59.76.
Warsaw also took third in the 400 free relay at 3:21.90, but well short of Northridge’s 3:16.76.
Warsaw had a pair of consolation wins, with Zach LaLonde in the 50 (23.81) and Ian Deming in the butterfly (56.28).
DeBrota was honored by his peers as one of three coaches named Coach of the Year, along with Goshen’s Nate Long and Northridge’s Joe Keller.
Warsaw was third in the team scoring at 317, followed by Wawasee (268), Goshen (258), Elkhart Memorial (153), Plymouth (124) and NorthWood (79).
Goshen had another reason to rise when Mitchell Walters surfaced from the tsunami of water at the finish of the 50 freestyle, getting the ‘1’ next to his name at 22.70. Putting it into perspective, Cook was fifth in the event with a 22.93.
Northridge did pretty much the rest at the top of the swim sheets, including a sweep of the 500 free. Connor Glenn took the title of top distance swimmer in a long line of Northridge success in the event, winning at 4:44.97, followed by teammates Nick Dibley (4:48.67) and Trevor Sallee (4:50.82). Wawasee’s Jared Krugman was the best of the rest, coming in at 5:00.04.
Glenn won the 200 at 1:45.33, Dibley the fly at 53.93, and Spencer Lehman continued to perform as one of the state’s best with wins in the individual medley at 1:52.13 – missing the meet record by .02 – and the 100 free at 46.60, beating Findley in the freestyle by over a second. Lehman is the defending state IM champion.
Wawasee’s Brady Robinson was runner-up in two events, going 1:56.22 in the IM and 54.35 in the fly. Krugman was fourth in the 200 at 1:50.41 and Isaiah Metcalf won the consolation of the 200 at 1:56.32.
Wawasee head coach Julie Robinson noted names at the top of the list would have been a bonus, but the number of lifetime bests was staggering. In all, the Warriors posted 15 personal records, which was as good as it gets for the coach.
“It was really cool to list all the lifetime bests from this meet and it was crazy how long the list was of kids who swam not season best, but lifetime bests,” Robinson said. “Almost every one of our swims weren’t suited up and untapered. It makes you wonder just what they can do come sectionals.”
Concord’s Austin Leas ran away with the diving title at 414.75. Wawasee’s Brady Claassen was third at 310.60, one of the lifetimes for the Warriors.
NorthWood’s top individual effort came from Jason McNeil, who won the consolation heat of the backstroke at 1:01.94. McNeil finished tenth in the IM at 2:11.05.
“A lot of our guys swam person bests on Thursday, but we had to be realistic about the talent in the conference versus what we have,” said NorthWood head coach Tim Stutsman. “Our depth is getting there, we just aren’t there with our boys yet. It was good to see Jason swim today, and in both his events he dropped over five seconds over the course of two days. In a 100 back, that’s not easy to do.”