GOSHEN — Katie Hughes, a slightly built freshman, had the weight of the entire Northridge High School girls swimming program on her shoulders as she stepped up on the blocks to anchor the 400-yard freestyle relay Tuesday night.
At stake was the outcome of an NLC meet with the Goshen Redskins. Goshen was clinging to a two-point lead entering the 400 free relay and the Raiders wanted to win both the event and the meet.
Hughes came through like a veteran bringing her team home in a time of 3:33.60 just ahead of Goshen’s relay that finished in 3:33.99.
The end result was a 95-91 Northridge victory.
“The coaches told us before the relay that if we won and let Goshen get second and third the meet would end in a tie,” Hughes said. “We had a decision to make in our heads as to how we wanted the meet to come out. It was really exciting and I kept thinking during the race that I didn’t want to let my team down. I like having the pressure on me. It brings out what is in my heart.”
Veteran Northridge coach Joe Keller had a plan.
“On the way over we told the girls the meet could come down to the 400 relay,” he said. “We also knew Goshen had to be licking their chops thinking this was an opportunity to beat us. Because of that I kept all my horses in the stable for the 400 relay. I told the girls on the relay that they were not alone on the blocks, but they had every other girl that has swam at Northridge up there with them.”
The Redskins took a two-point lead after the 100 butterfly based a win by Natalie Evans (1:02.34), a third from Jenea Born (1:05.89) and a fourth from Frankie Lietzan (1:10.34). Goshen held on to that lead, which got as high a four points, down to the wire.