By Mike Deak
AKRON – The swim duals between NorthWood and Tippecanoe Valley Monday night came together as both teams had hoped it would a couple weeks ago. In a make-up meet from the first week of the season, both teams finally got their lineups mostly in place, and competed in a pair of boys/girls showdowns that matched up levels of talent both coaching staffs could evaluate.
Tippecanoe Valley Girls 82, NorthWood 75
While there were just over a baker’s dozen girls swimmers in total in Monday’s dual, both coaches, Sheryl Hawkins for NorthWood and Katie Bradley for Valley, were happy with what they saw.
Among the high points for the night was a medley relay to open the swims that looked more like the ‘rat race’ game on The Price Is Right. Back and forth both teams went, taking a lead and giving it up, eventually NorthWood’s Elle Roberts chased down Olivia Wilson for the win at 2:17.88, just six-hundredths better at the touch. Roberts also added wins in the 200 free and breaststroke, Wilson would come back with a win in the 50 free.
“We have some big-time teams coming up, so a meet like tonight is going to show us where we’re at,” said Hawkins. “We have Wawasee and Northridge this week, and they are loaded with talent. Our races tonight can only help against teams like that. We did well with what we had. Elle had a couple really nice races, so did Andrea (Williams).”
Makena Smith added a nice win over Williams in the butterfly (1:14.36) for Valley, and Reagan Koble padded her résumé with a 200.50 diving win to start the day for the Panthers.
Added Doug Berger, NorthWood diving coach, on Koble’s win and her potential chances in a talented Northern Lakes Conference diving circuit, “Reagan has to put everything together in one meet from beginning to end, one after another. She’s capable of that. But if something does go wrong, she can’t let the next one flummox. She’s got to get the focus again and visualize the next dive.”
NorthWood Boys 121, Tippecanoe Valley 56
Depth separated the two programs Monday, but Valley showed it had some talent to keep pace with its northern neighbors.
Carson Parker beat three Panthers going away in the 200 free, a 15-second winner at 2:03.13, and Brandon Hoffman gave Valley another win in the 100 free. Valley’s medley relay also got a nice win, a full 29 seconds better than the Panthers.
“I’m really impressed with how well the kids have stayed in shape, and then how some of the races shaped out tonight,” noted Bradley, who articulated that at one point earlier this season 16 of her 19 total swimmers were contact traced out of the pool. “We had some good matchups and then saw the good racing. Their boys numbers in depth is the obvious difference there, we can’t match that with more than half that total. But I’m really happy with what I saw other than some technical stuff.”
Joe Hahn provided a pair of wins for the Panthers, taking both the individual medley and 500 free, the latter in a time of 5:51.16 that Hawkins put a challenge up for Hahn to go after.
“I had pushed him mentally, and Joe wasn’t feeling all that great, but we had eye contact across the pool,” said Hawkins. “His 200 IM, he had a great race and we got a good time there as well. I thought for the most part from the guys we got what we needed.”
Hawkins noted she had all but one rostered swimmer on hand Monday night, a first for the season.
Skee Mishler led a NorthWood sweep of the 50 free and Dillon Boggs took the fly among the gains for the Panthers.
Both teams will look at quick turnarounds this week. NorthWood will visit Wawasee Tuesday for a Northern Lakes Conference dual and Tippecanoe Valley will host Manchester on Wednesday in Three Rivers Conference action.