Pats, Boonville split coed meetNovember 24, 2020
By JIMMY LAFAKIS
BOONVILLE — Just a few minutes before Tuesday evening’s Pocket Athletic Conference swim meet against Boonville began, the Heritage Hills Patriots made a collective decision. Determined to keep the mood light, the Heritage Hills boys and girls shared cheerful laughs with one another.
Boonville earned a 137-41 victory on the boys side of the dual meet, while the Heritage Hills girls captured a 96-79 win. After the action subsided, Pats head coach Gary Ayer emphasized the importance of remaining upbeat.
“You have to stay loose,” he said. “With all the chaos going on, we’re just happy to be able to swim. We try to keep it loose, especially on these days with as young of a team as I’ve got on both sides. With the boys and girls, you can’t get too intense. They start freaking out. We just want to have fun.”
The Heritage Hills girls seized the momentum with two early wins — the 200 medley relay and the 200 freestyle. Avery Vinson took first place in the freestyle event. Later in the meet, Vinson won the 100 breaststroke event.
As the meet reached its middle stages, the Heritage Hills student-athletes found their second winds. Alexa Fleck took first place in the 100 butterfly. Rachel Martin secured the top spot in the 100 backstroke.
While the Pats charged ahead in the water, Ayer offered positive reinforcement. His constant energy gave the squad a lift.
“We’ve really been getting after it in practice,” Ayer said. “I’m just trying to keep them encouraged.”
According to Ayer, only seven of the 20 boys on the Heritage Hills roster were available for Tuesday’s meet.
“We knew what the outcome was going to be before we even came down here,” he said. “We knew that Boonville is really strong on the boys side. We’ve got to look at different things and what we’ve got to do to improve. We’re just encouraging them as they’re going along. We get them to fight.”
Although they entered the meet with a short-handed lineup, the boys showed promise in their first official meet of the campaign.
“They all had good swims,” Ayer said. “I can’t think of one that really stood out. I thought all the boys swam really well for the first meet. My returning guys weren’t too happy with the way they were swimming. I asked one of them, ‘When’s the last time you were in the water?’ There was so much shut down over the summer. Some of my guys that do swim age group, they weren’t able to this summer.”
Three Heritage Hills girls claimed the top spots of the 1-meter diving event. Elizabeth Williams won the event, while Lilly Hopster and Sadie Peters took the respective second and third places.
“Today was a good starting point for them,” Ayer said. “We will build on that.”
The Pats closed the meet with a convincing win in the girls 400 freestyle relay. Before Boonville recognized its seniors, Ayer tipped his cap to the Pioneers.
“If you want to get better, you’ve got to swim good competition,” he said. “They’re coming into the conference this year, which is going to add a lot and step up the competition. Hopefully, across the board, it will make our conference better. We know what we’re going to have to do to compete. They’ve built a good program. They’ve got a strong boys team.”
Heritage Hills will return to compete against another PAC rival, Pike Central, at 6:30 p.m. on Monday at home.
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