Area swim teams ready for sectional meetFebruary 13, 2019
By HENDRIX MAGLEY
It seems like it was just yesterday when the 2018-19 swim season began but it’s rapidly coming to a close with the boys sectional meet taking place this week at Jasper.
The preliminaries take place tonight beginning at 6:30 p.m. while the swim and dive finals will be this Saturday at 2 p.m.
While Heritage Hills is the defending sectional champion, there will be 11 other teams looking to dethrone them including Jasper, Southridge and Northeast Dubois.
Here’s a brief rundown of each local team and thoughts from each head coach about their season and what to expect for this weekend’s sectional meet.
(Editor’s note: Forest Park could not be reached by deadline.)
While the Jasper girls are coming off a sectional title (their 12th in the last 13 years), the boys are looking to begin a new streak of sectional championships like the one they had from 2014 to 2016.
The Wildcats have had solid performances from an abundance of swimmers this year include Amos Buschkoetter, Abraham DeLaCruz, Abe Eckman, Jack Henke, Raife Milligan, Connor Nolan and several others.
Jasper head coach Kristin Gutgsell has been impressed with what she’s seen from the team as a whole.
“All of the boys have improved ,” Gutgsell said. “We’ve worked out the whole lineup based on what everyone’s strengths are and hopefully put together the best group to give us a chance to win this weekend.”
While the Cats had a little younger of a team than they’re used to, Jasper has still seen a lot of success throughout the year including a Big Eight conference title.
But if they want to duplicate what the girls did a week ago, they’ll have to start strong tonight.
“You pretty much have to try to win the meet on Thursday,” Gutgsell said. “If we don’t do what we need to do (tonight), we won’t be able to put ourselves in a good position on Saturday.”
The Southridge boys swimming team only has seven swimmers this season. While that may sound like a very low number, it’s actually an increase from past years for head coach Amy Kaetzel.
“It’s been great to have seven swimmers on our boys team,” Kaetzel said. “We can compete in all the relays and all these boys have had a lot of fun together. They’re a great group to be able to coach.”
Even though the Raiders have a smaller group, Kaetzel has been impressed with the performances she’s seen from the newcomers Luke Trout and Adam Jochem as well as veterans such as Alex Biehl and Logan Hunter.
What’s the goal for Southridge at the sectional meet?
“The goal for all of them is to be able to come back on Saturday for some event,” Kaetzel said. “All of our seniors have worked really hard and they’re looking forward to this last weekend.”
Northeast Dubois Jeeps
Another team that saw a rise in numbers is the Northeast Dubois boys swim team. The Jeeps are up to nine total swimmers this year which meant that they were able to be a lot more competitive in meets this season.
“We’ve always had talent but we usually didn’t have the numbers to win a meet,” said head coach Kendra Friedman. “This year, there were several meets that we won that I didn’t think we would. These boys have just been putting in the work and it’s showing its benefits.”
The Jeeps have had solid swims from several boys such as Carter Beckman and Trenton Harrison but Friedman has been particularly impressed with Colby Stafford’s performances in the 50 freestyle.
Even though the Jeeps have a smaller squad, Friedman is set in stone with her goals for the sectional meet.
“We made it a goal that we want all of our relays in the finals — no ifs, ands or buts about it,” Friedman said. “Moving on to Saturday is our utmost goal. We just want to do the work and hope it pays off for Saturday.”
Heritage Hills Patriots
After winning their first sectional championship in school history last year, the Patriots know they are going to have a target on their back.
However, the Patriots know they’ll have to improve on their seed times if they want to repeat as champs.
“Right now with where the seed teams are, we’re not the favorite this year,” said head coach Gary Ayer Jr. “We’ve got our work cut out for us — we can’t afford to have any off swims, it’s going to be a challenge this year.”
While the Patriots returned a plethora of swimmers that helped lead them to a title last year including Gavin Fuchs, Josh Halvorson, Jacob Wetzel and Dominic Williams, there’s one swimmer that’s done a solid job for the Pats this year who hasn’t even expected to compete.
“The one surprise this season was the addition of Jacob Schmidt,” Ayer said. “He usually plays basketball but after sustaining a knee injury during football, he knew his knee wasn’t going to let him play basketball but he was able to come in and swim for us. He’s been a big addition.”
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