By Mike Deak
SYRACUSE – It wasn’t as if either Wawasee or Warsaw had seen significant delays in its startup to their respective swim seasons. COVID contact tracing? Yes. Some injuries, even? Yes. In any regard, the two programs relished the opportunity to swim against its rival Saturday morning at the Wawasee Middle School Natatorium.
Warsaw Girls 110, Wawasee 65
Warsaw’s depth gave it a sizable advantage on the shorthanded Wawasee side. But that didn’t stop the host Warriors from claiming seven of the 12 top results in the meet.
Warsaw’s distance swims did well, with Marissa Howett taking the 200 free (2:08.87) and Gracie Willig rolling in the 500 (5:54.59), and both of the 200 and 400 freestyle relays were tops. Maddy Morgan added a Tiger win in the butterfly (1:09.35).
“The girls, I’m very impressed with,” stated Warsaw head coach Tony DeBrota. “The team chemistry is through the roof and they are ready to get the team and individual goals we have established for February. Depth is better this year than in years past. As I coach, I will still have to play around with the lineup, but we’ve got some freshman that will certainly fill in the slots as they get older.”
Wawasee had a pair of double winners in Cammy Kryder and Rileigh Atwood. Kryder took both the 50 free (25.96) and backstroke (1:06.65) while Atwood sped to wins in the 100 free (59.21) and breaststroke (1:11.59).
Hayden Neer gathered her first career win in the individual medley (2:25.83) and the Wawasee medley relay opened with a win.
Kelsey Keiper won diving unopposed for the Warriors.
“I really think the girls did well overall, all things considered,” said Wawasee assistant coach Seth Cripe, standing in for head coach Jason Scott, who is out on quarantine. “We’ve been really working with them on a mindset that us coaches want to see these times, and you can pout for a few seconds, but this is what’s going to get you deep into the season. We probably aren’t going to win a bunch of dual meets because of our depth, but this team is capable of making a lot of noise. There’s a lot of talent on this roster.”
Wawasee Boys 100, Warsaw 85
It was Wawasee’s distance that did the trick in earning the Northern Lakes Conference win.
A 500 free win from Zeke Keim (5:30.21) was joined by Nathan Harper’s 200 free win (2:01.94), as both closed out Wawasee’s 400 free relay to seal the deal, Harper anchoring the win by less than a second over the closing Tigers.
Nathan Kryder added a win, taking the fly (56.94) and Harper added another in the backstroke (57.47), with Devon Kuhn led the way in diving.
“You can definitely tell that Harper is a freshman, but he put together a great first race,” Cripe said. “When he wanted to go fast, he went fast. That final leg of the relay was impressive. We’re really excited not only in him, but a lot of of younger guys as well. We have a long way to go in this season, but we saw a lot of kids working hard today.”
Warsaw showed well with its signature speed, and once again had the sprints in hand. Michael Ray took the mantle in the 50 (22.66) and 100 (51.48) freestyles, and Ian Wihebrink kept the family name going in the breaststroke (1:02.18). Cooper Archer added a win in the IM, going 2:12.22 after making state in the event a year ago.
Warsaw opened the meet with a win in the medley relay.
“We’ve got a lot of new guys that’ll have to contribute significantly this year,” DeBrota said. “On the bight side, they want to be here, believe in the system, and know the work need to get the goals we want. The first half of the season, for boys, will be very experimental as we maximize the lineup for championship meets.”