WARSAW – It was a sectional showcase of sorts for some, and also a much needed wake-up call for others. The swim quad hosted by Warsaw Wednesday night pitted some juicy potential matchups at the upcoming sectionals in February, and in a few cases, conference matchups for a pair of Three Rivers Conference foes.
Warsaw would get the nod in three wins on each side, the girls posting a 201 to get past Rochester’s 180 with Huntington North at 101 and Tippecanoe Valley at 63. The boys ledger was a touch more convincing as Warsaw scored 205 while Rochester fended off Huntington North, 144-121, and Valley scored 48 points.
The meet, the first for all four schools in nearly two weeks off from competition, brought in four schools that will compete in the Warsaw sectionals in February and Rochester and Valley from the TRC which will square up at its conference meet in just over two weeks. While none of the clubs had any illusions of winning a title Wednesday night, some posturing and scouting was evident as some prime time matchups were waged.
The boys races weren’t as stacked, with Warsaw on top in seven of the 11 swim events. Two of its losses were key, however, as Tippecanoe Valley’s Chase Brower and Warsaw’s Alex Cook took each other on in the 50 and 100 freestyles. Both have state experience and both showed it Wednesday. Brower raised notice early, winning the 50 free from the outside lane eight, going 21.97 in his second sub-22 swim of the season. Brower posted a 21.90 to set the school record in the event at the Wawasee Invite in December.
In the 100 free, Brower again was on the outside in lane seven and used his long frame to get to the wall at 50.80, making up ground in the final 25 yards to beat Cook’s 51.48.
“I think that Alex is setting his sights on (Chase), and they had a couple good races tonight,” said Warsaw head coach Tony DeBrota. “I think Brower is doing the same for Alex, and they’ll both be going full throttle trying to get to state. It should be fun to watch.”
Evan Borchers and Grant Knight were double winners for the Tigers, Borchers going 1:55.60 in the 200 free and 56.74 in the butterfly while Knight clocked 2:08.68 in the individual medley and 1:00.90 in the breaststroke. Warsaw won all three relays, the medley at 1:45.97, the 200 at 1:33.93 and the 400 at 3:33.57.
Zach Hodge would give Valley a third, leading diving at 152.75.
Added Valley head coach Matt Craig, “Chase and some of our other swimmers are where they ought to be, and it showed tonight. I thought our divers did well tonight as well. It was a pretty decent meet for us.”
Rochester had Isaac Smith win the 500 at 5:15.85 and Jeff Ruppert take the backstroke at 58.29.
The gap closed quickly in the girls grid, as Rochester used its aces to put a lot of pressure on the incumbent Warsaw squad when it comes to predicting postseason success.
The duo of Abbie McCarter and Maddie Sailors won four races and helped the 400 free relay to a win as well. McCarter outraced Warsaw’s Delaney Wihebrink to the finish of the IM at 2:18.30, a .41 win, then later took the backstroke at 1:00.46, setting a Rochester school record in the event. Sailors edged Laurel Moeller of Warsaw in the 200 free, Sailors getting home at 2:08.06, a .19 win. Sailors had an easier time winning the 100 free at 58.11. The Zebra 400 relay won comfortably at 3:59.79.
Warsaw did cobble together individual wins from Moeller in the 500 at 5:52.23, Wihebrink in the breaststroke at 1:10.47, Taylor Gunter in the fly at 1:05.79 and Olivia Herman in the 50 at 26.13. The Tiger medley relay won at 1:58.31 and the 200 relay also won at 1:47.41. Rochester’s Megan Thomas won diving at 143.90, edging teammate Elaina Dishon’s 143.55 and Warsaw’s Emma Pena’s 140.30.
“I think sectionals is going to come down to myself and my coaches sitting down and deciding where we are going to put our key swimmers,” DeBrota said. “You saw tonight we can’t just walk in and send everyone to state. Rochester is going to have a say in it, and so will Culver Academy, and who knows who else sneaks in there. We can’t just stack relays and expect it. Our next couple of weeks with our final dual and then conference should show us some things.”
Warsaw will wrap up its Northern Lakes Conference dual schedule Saturday against Concord while Valley will host Rochester next Tuesday.
“I wish kids would wear more hats, I wish they would get more sleep and I wish they would eat better,” added DeBrota, whose team is among the throngs dealing with illness of late. “We have a lot of kids getting sick and they aren’t taking care of themselves. They’re missing practice, missing workouts, parents emailing and calling in. It’s frustrating, but we just have to deal with it and be smarter when we can.”