Local PAC rivals square off in triangular meet

Photos by Marlena Sloss/The Herald
Forest Park's Ben Kluesner competes in the 100-yard backstroke during Monday's swim meet in Huntingburg. Marlena Sloss/The Herald

By JONATHAN SAXON
jsaxon@dcherald.com

HUNTINGBURG — Monday night’s tri-meet was something of an early Christmas gift for the swim teams of Southridge, Forest Park and Heritage Hills. All three teams will be duking it out for the Pocket Athletic Conference and sectional titles at the end of the season, and a chance for the teams to swim against each other is an invaluable opportunity to see what the competition has to offer at this early juncture.

“It’s always important for us to swim against our conference and sectional team,” Rangers coach Rachel Berg said. “We know Heritage Hills is going to come out strong. They have great numbers and swimmers, so does Southridge on the girls side. It’s always fun to swim against both of them, because we know the competition is going to be there.”

“It’s huge,” Patriots coach Gary Ayer said. “We can see how we match up against them.”

So far, the Patriots are matching up pretty well in the water, as the boys team finished first with 162 points, and the girls came in second with 123 points. The Pats boys picked up wins in 11 events. Avery Vinson won the 200 individual medley, Brittany Crosby swept through the 100 butterfly and 100 breaststroke, and Elizabeth Williams claimed first place in the diving portion of the meet for the girls.

“We swam OK,” Ayer said. “There’s a lot of things we still have to work on. Overall, I’m pretty happy with what we did.”

Heritage Hills swim team members cheer on Brittany Crosby as she swims the 100-yard breaststroke during Monday's swim meet in Huntingburg.

Southridge coach Amy Kaetzel was also interested in using the meet to expand the horizons with a couple of her swimmers by placing them in new events. The adjustments paid off for the girls team, which finished first overall with 141 points. The boys team finished third with 12.

“I think the girls did a great job,” she said. “Heritage Hills is a traditionally strong team, so I was happy to come out ahead of them. I’m trying to put them in some different events than what they’re used to and see what they could do, trying to spread them out as much as possible.”

Among the top performers for the Raiders were Claire Hentrup, who took first place in the 50 freestyle and 500-yard freestyle, and was part of the top-finishing 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays. Adi Luker won the 100 backstroke and 100 freestyle, and also took part in the aforementioned relay teams. Reilly Lechner took first place in diving for the boys team.

Forest Park finished second on the boys side with 44 points and third for the girls with 32. Josie Berg took first place in the 200 freestyle event, and finished second in the 50 freestyle. Ben Kluesner finished second in the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke, and was part of the second-place 200 medley relay team.

“Everybody did well,” Berg said. “They swam how I felt they should this time of year. We’ve been hit with some sickness, so it’s kind of a tough week.”

The coaches all agreed it was great to get an early run at one another, and they were also unanimous in their assessments of where their respective teams can improve. Better starts, sharper turns and getting healthy are all key concerns they share, but only time will tell how each of them fares when the stakes are at their peak at the end of the winter.

 




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