Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Sports

February 3, 2013

PREP GIRLS SWIMMING: Raiders regain title

Northridge wins sectional crown in its own pool

MIDDLEBURY — Going into the final event — the 400-yard freestyle relay — all the Northridge Raiders needed to do in order to return the sectional championship to their school was finish at least seventh out of the eight teams.

Just going out and basically finishing the race doesn’t quite fit the style of the team or of its veteran coach Joe Keller. Instead the Raiders went out with a bang, winning the event in a blistering time of 3:37.80.

Concord was the defending sectional champion and they built a lead early in the meet, but Northridge had enough depth in the bottom part of its lineup to overcome that.

Northridge totaled 390 1/2 points, followed by Wawasee 368, Concord 364, Goshen 313, Elkhart Central 220, East Noble 174 1/2, Elkhart Memorial 157, NorthWood 89, Angola 72 1/2 and DeKalb 50 1/2.

“One of the biggest motivating factors for the girls today was they didn’t want another team celebrating in their pool,” Keller said. “I had told the girls that it would be close. Not everything went they way we wanted, but in the areas where it really mattered our girls stepped up.”

The winner in each event and any individual or relay meeting the state standard move on to the state meet next Friday and Saturday at the Indiana University Natatorium in Indianapolis. The top four divers advance to the diving regional Tuesday at South Bend Riley.

Concord held the lead until Wawasee went into first place after the 100 freestyle. The Raiders then took the lead briefly after senior Brittney Walters (5:00.54) and junior Tessa Peter (5:22.55) went 1-2 in the 500 free.

“Walters is rock solid in the 500,” Keller said.

Her lead got so big at one point she was the only person in the field of eight swimming in her direction.

“Peter is an example of what can happen through hard work and determination,” Keller said. “Before this year she had never broken 6:10 in the 500. What she did today is truly phenomenal.”

Concord had a lead of 1 1/2 points heading into the final relay.

“We had a good backstroke and an awesome breaststroke,” Keller said. “I told the girls regardless of what happens the true test of a meet is the 400 free relay. The 400 relay is a display of toughness. It was nice to see the girls stake a claim to that relay.”

Until freshman Sydney Boyer, Peter, senior Brittani Grove and Walters captured the 400 free relay the only other win by the Raiders was Walters in the 500 free.

“The strength of our lineup is at then end and we played to that,” Keller said.

Walters turned in one heroic effort for her team. After winning the 500 free she turned around and the next event — the 200 free relay — her anchor leg split of 23.11 propelled Northridge to a second-place finish.

“She was warmed up,” Keller said about the relay split. “Before this her fastest time in the 500 free was 24.02. She is so competitive and driven that she didn’t need any other motivation.”

The Concord foursome of sophomore Ashley Schrock, freshman Marian DeFreese, sophomore Sydney Shuff and junior McKenzie Wright won the 200 free relay (1:38.17) and the Wawasee group of sophomore Rachel Rozow, sophomore Kendra Miller, freshman Kayla Hershberger and sophomore Breanna Robinson were third (1:38.95).

The Concord, Northridge and Wawasee teams were all under the state standard (1:39.79) so they all move on to the state meet.

Schrock paced the Concord effort with wins in the 200 individual medley (2:13.39) and the 100 breaststroke (1:07.08). Wright placed first in the 50 free (24.88).

“You never know what is going to happen in the 500 free, but Wright has always been a big-meet swimmer,” Concord coach Tom Johnson said. “From the standpoint of focus not time she is our most improved swimmer.

“I’m proud of the girls. We would have liked to have finished first but this is OK.”

Johnson was named the Coach of the Year.

Goshen sophomore Natalie Evans won the 100 butterfly, shattering the GHS record of 1:00.18 by Erin Sarabaugh in 2000 with her time of 58.67.

“We knew she could break 1:00, but for her to do it by as much as she did shows how focused she was,” Goshen coach Nate Duell said. “This was one of those swims you dream about.”

“The taper helped and so did going to a racing suit,” Evans said. “We did a lot of picturing the races this week in practice and I kept seeing a time of 59.89 so to go out and beat that time is awesome. My goal now is to make the top 16 at state.”

Goshen’s day got of to a good start as the foursome of freshman Claire Palczynski, sophomores Lynnsey James, Evans and Heather Ronci placed third in the 200 medley relay (1:57.37).

“That is the third fastest time in school history,” Duell said. “And the nice thing is I’ll have them for a few more years.”

Robinson was a double winner, taking the 200 free (1:50.76) and the 100 free (51.29). Her time in the 200 free was .72 off the sectional record by Lindsay Benko of Elkhart Central (1993) who went on to become an Olympic Gold medalist.

“My plan is to always swim my race,” she said. “I like to think that was good enough today. But there is still room for improvement.

“My goal at state is going to be winning one of those two races.”

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