MIDDLEBURY – Saturday’s championship round of the Northern Lakes Conference girls swim party saw the kids rule the roost. Wawasee’s Alexis Mishler added her name to the guest list with an impressive title among the annual postseason tournament kickoff.
Mishler was one of four freshmen to claim a first place ribbon among a host of underclassman successes in the Northridge Natatorium, and did so in exciting fashion. Trailing through 75 yards of the backstroke, Mishler was about a half stroke behind one of Concord’s super freshmen, Ella Lantz, as both hit the final turn. As the two emerged in the final 25, Mishler and Lantz were nearly even, but a strong kick from Mishler had the Wawasee rookie gain about a foot of distance as she descended on the wall. Her touch at 57.85 beat Lantz by a half-second.
“That last 25 I just saw her and wanted to find that extra speed in me. Next thing I know I passed her,” Mishler said of the backstroke finale. “I just felt like I needed to make a statement and show that I’m coming and I’m going to put up some times.”
Added coach Andy Kryder of Mishler’s championship effort, “Alexis likes to win.” Kryder paused and added a relaxed bridge of laughter. “She really wants to win. We told her stay out with (Lantz) in the first 50, and figured she could catch her on the back half. We thought she could go 57, and we believe she has some more time in her.”
Mishler’s win came on the heels of a runner-up swim in the 50 freestyle, her 24.35 one short of defending state 50 champion Elsa Fretz, who set the pool record with a championship 23.37. Kiah Farrington, another freshman from Wawasee, was third in the 50 and also added a fourth-place swim in the 100 free.
Wawasee as a whole finished third in the team standings at 273 points, solidifying third in the overall NLC standings behind Concord, at 456 points, and champion Northridge at 550 points.
“You go through and look at some of the other freshmen in this conference, it’s unbelievable,” Kryder said, his own daughter, Cammy, swam in four championship events. “There were some amazing swims. That’s trouble for us, because a lot of them aren’t on our team. But we do have a couple ourselves.
“Today was a great prelude for our girls to start believing in what can happen in a couple weeks. You go through a coaching change and some of the kids don’t know you or what to expect, I think a meet like this, it proves they can and should believe in themselves.”
The Raiders, in winning its sixth straight NLC crown and 19th overall, won 10 of the 12 titles and were more than convincing in doing so all afternoon.
Northridge ran an impressive 1-2-3 sweep of the individual medley, led by Anna Yeater’s 2:13.37, then saw Syd Nethercutt lead the Raider apex back in the 500 at 5:02.68 and sister Jenna Nethercutt lead the sweep of the breaststroke at 1:06.33. Northridge also swept the relays, winning the medley (1:49.12), the 200 in meet-record fashion (1:37.02) and the 400 (3:33.73). Fretz also won the 100 free going away (51.02), Syd Nethercutt won the 200 free (1:52.83) and Jiselle Miller led Northridge to a 1-2-4 finish in diving with a winning total of 514.35.
Northridge head coach Kyle Hembree was voted NLC Coach of the Year by his peers. The swim awards will be announced later this winter.
Concord freshman Sophia Stutsman won the butterfly with a time of 59.34.
It wasn’t the banner day Warsaw hoped for, managing to squeeze out just six championship round swims. In those efforts, the Tigers were fourth in the medley and 200 relays, but slipped to seventh and a pair of eighths and a DQ. Warsaw did, however, make good on four sets of consolation swims, taking the top time in the consolations. Gracie Willig led the B finals of the 200 free (2:07.41) and 500 free (5:41.20), Macelyn Marcuccilli in the 50 (26.54) and Mariana Malagon in the backstroke (1:05.99).
Megan Metzger was ninth in diving for Warsaw with a final total of 289.10.
“It was a great meet,” started Warsaw head coach Tony DeBrota. “We have a ton of individual goals that were set and met at this meet. NLC was eye opening. It was great seeing such impressive performances in this region.”
Wawasee’s Lily Tyler led the B final of the IM at 2:25.00.
NorthWood had Elle Roberts alive in two championship finals, and the Panther freshman was sixth in the 50 (25.41) and seventh in the breaststroke (1:13.59). NorthWood divers Reagan Koble and Caitlin Knepp landed in the top 11, Koble eighth at 325.70 and Knepp 11th at 264.40.