AKRON — Neither of Tippecanoe Valley’s swim teams got a win Thursday night. But given the many shuffles brought on by the rescheduling of the Three Rivers Conference championships due to Saturday’s snowstorm forecasts, the dual meet with visiting North Judson-San Pierre wasn’t a bad showing, either.
The Vikings swim squads won over half of the events versus Judson — 13 of 24 to be exact — but between a lack of depth and the moves head coach Tom Alexander was forced to make with the TRC meet moved up a day, both came up short Thursday. The boys lost by a close 78-68 margin, while the Lady Vikings — down a key swimmer/ diver in Elaina Dishon — lost 106-73.
“I thought the team did really well with everything going on with the craziness of the weather and the scheduling that we’ve had the last couple days with the conference being today and tomorrow and not being able to practice like we normally do,” explained Alexander.
Valley’s girls picked up wins in the 200 medley relay, the 50, 100 and 200 freestyle swims, the individual medley, the backstroke and the 400 free relay.
Mayde Fear, Olivia Livengood and Jerzey Conley all contributed to both of the Lady Vikings’ relay wins, while Conley won the 200 free (2:33.44), Livengood breezed to the win in the IM (2:32.22) and 100 free (1:06.75), and Fear touched first in both the 50 free (28.76) and the back (1:16.63). Maddie Woodward combined with Fear, Livengood and Conley for the medley relay victory (2:22.27), and Nicole Ziemek swam with the trio of multiple-event winners in the 400 free relay (4:43.58). Ziemek also cut a full 14 seconds off her previous best in the 500 free on her way to third-place there (7:47.85), and Hannah Lowman cut seven seconds off her breaststroke time for fourth place in that race (1:44.85).
Dishon would likely have made a difference for the Lady Vikings, too, but with the TRC diving championships moved up to Thursday night, she was down the road at Maconaquah for the competition.
“It was the amount of swimmers to overcome,” said Alexander of the difference in Thursday’s girls meet. “They had 14 to 16 girls, and we have eight and one of our swimmers is competing at conference — the conference was moved because of the impending snowstorm. She was one of our go-to girls for swimming and diving, and she was competing there, so that definitely hurt in the points aspect of things.”
Valley’s boys won a total of seven events, meanwhile, as Brandon Hoffman, Grady McGriff, Dakota Prater and Grayson Sriver out-touched their opponents by just over a tenth of a second in the medley relay (2:07.61), Hoffman earned bragging rights in both the 200 and 100 freestyles (2:12.41 and 55.81), Prater won the IM (2:31.15) and the fly (1:08.49), and McGriff collected a win in the breaststroke (1:26.13). Stephen Mason won the backstroke handily (1:09.19) — more than 10 seconds faster than his closest competitor — in his first foray into the event in four years, meanwhile, as Alexander moved swimmers around to keep them fresh for the conference meet moved up a day to Friday.
“We kind of took a break tonight,” explained the Valley skipper. “I moved some kids around. We didn’t swim the swims that we normally swim. I think a lot of coaches do that, and seeing the competitive nature of the team going into conference tomorrow, I expect a lot of good things from the kids. I saw some kids that looked over and saw that it was close, and they pushed it a little harder. So that was good to see going into conference.”
Despite a number of good swims, Valley’s teams weren’t able to overcome Judson’s numerical advantage. An unfortunate DQ in their lone boys 400 free relay squad also cost the Vikings valuable points.
“I’m really grateful for the team. I think I’ve got a good, small team,” Alexander said. “It’s a good building block for next year, and if we get some kids from the middle school program as far as club, I think we’ll be on to something for the future of Tippecanoe Valley swimming.”