By Mike Deak
WARSAW – It’s early in the season, but Warsaw head coach Tony DeBrota is already working the numbers. NorthWood surprisingly made him.
The Panthers came into the Warsaw Community Pool Thursday night and nearly pulled off a big upset, the Tigers gripping onto a 10-point boys win. The girls meet had far less drama, as a severely shorthanded NorthWood team had no shot in catching Warsaw.
Warsaw Boys 98, NorthWood 88
“It’s always interesting on Senior Night, right?” joked DeBrota after thumbing through the final results.
His boys were pushed to the limit by a very game Panthers side. Warsaw enjoyed double wins from Cooper Archer in the butterfly (1:00.31) and backstroke (1:01.47), Ian Wihebrink in the individual medley (2:13.06) and the breaststroke (1:02.49) and senior Michael Ray in the 50 (22.26) and the 100 (49.70) freestyles.
Wihebrink and Ray were impressive in their conquests, notably Wihebrink’s pullaway in the breast and Ray’s landslide in the 50, both commanding performances.
“We have a good month still to experiment with what we want to do and get a feel for what these swimmers can do,” DeBrota said of his boys team. “It is very relieving to see some of these swimmers be put in these shoes in trying to replace these giant senior classes we’ve had the past couple years. Tonight was a good indicator of where we are, and where we need to be.”
Warsaw grabbed both the medley and 200 free relays, but in a meet where pointing to points will occupy a good portion of DeBrota’s bedtime routine Thursday, Jayce Sawyer’s diving win (175.70) proved important. A year ago, with NorthWood boasting of then-state contending diver Caden Jenkins, Thursday possibly could have had a different feel.
“I brought in a lot of new swimmers that we didn’t have times for, which meant we would have a lot of competition to see where we would line up, and it’s been good so far,” said NorthWood head coach Sheryl Hawkins. “Joe and our distance, Alex pushed a lot of good times, we had some good swims. We have a lot of new faces and it’s been exciting to see how they are handling meets and good competition.”
The Panthers had its 400 free relay conclude the meet with a win, and Alex Bowers led the apex in the 500 freestyle (6:22.05). Joe Hahn led a NorthWood sweep of the 200 free at 2:06.85.
Warsaw Girls 136, NorthWood 38
A far different story on the girls side, as NorthWood’s half dozen was no match for the well-stocked hosts.
The Panthers did have two event winners, Elle Roberts posting a convincing 200 free (2:07.37) and Reagan Koble opening the night with a 172.70 in diving.
“There’s a lot of strategy with the girls this year,” Hawkins said. “Being able to strategize with the girls, every girl is going to have to be willing to swim every event. Elle is willing to do that, I can ask her to swim anything and she’ll be right there and say ‘OK, let’s do this.’ She’s going to stand out with the numbers she can put up.”
Otherwise, Warsaw commanded a large part of the remainder of the girls competition.
Macelyn Marcuccilli and Lillian Boston both doubled up, Marcuccilli in the IM (2:33.54) and breast (1:19.90) and Boston the 50 (26.87) and 100 (59.56) freestyles, Boston edging teammate Marissa Howett at the wall in the 100 by a tenth of a second.
Mariana Malagon in the back (1:10.05), Gracie Willig in the 500 (5:53.90) and Maddy Morgan in the fly (1:08.94) put a bow on Warsaw’s second Northern Lakes Conference win of the season.
“Really happy with what I saw out of the girls, they had a good meet,” DeBrota said. “We had a lot of good times from some of our depth. We’re still working on where we want to be in a month for conference, but really more for sectionals.”