Pats return to pool, split with Mater Dei

Photo by Jimmy Lafakis/The Herald
Heritage Hills sophomore Masil Smith swims in the 100 breaststroke event during Monday evening’s swim meet against Evansville Mater Dei in Lincoln City.


LINCOLN CITY — In this unprecedented swim season, teams seek rhythm and momentum in the pool. Heritage Hills’ first swim meet of the calendar year — Monday’s competitive contest against Evansville Mater Dei — gave the Patriots an indication of their progress up to this point. The Pats earned a 102-77 victory on the girls side, while the Wildcats captured an 88-70 win on the boys side.

“It’s good to see where we’re at with the way the holidays fell,” Heritage Hills head coach Gary Ayer said. “Missing multiple days in a row out of the pool, you never know what you’re going to get when you come back. Monday meets seem a little bit flat, anyway. It’s kind of what I expected.”

The Heritage Hills girls made some emphatic statements throughout the meet. Bridget Flannagan took the Pats’ first win of the day, a convincing victory in the 200 freestyle. Jada Banks followed with her first victory in the 50 freestyle.

Lilly Hopster won the 1-meter diving event before Banks took the win in the 100 butterfly. Lily Gogel’s win in the 100 freestyle preceded Flannagan’s victory in the 500 freestyle.

The quartet of Gogel, Flannagan, Banks and Avery Vinson secured a sound victory in the 200 freestyle relay. Vinson followed that win up with another victory in the 100 breaststroke and contributed to a 400 freestyle relay victory alongside Banks, Gogel and Flannagan.

“I thought the girls swam really well,” Ayer said. “I’m happy and pleased with where some of them are. Again, we had some that missed some time due to family events over the holidays. They missed some pool time, and it definitely showed up tonight. I thought we swam pretty well.”

The victory offered glimpses into the Pats’ development and improvement.

“It was nice to come out with the win,” Ayer said. “Mater Dei beat us pretty handily at the Mount Vernon Invite. I don’t know how many kids they had out at that meet, but we were missing the majority of my team going down there. It’s a solid win for us on the girls side.”

Josh Halvorson began his strong night with a win in the 200 freestyle. After the intermission, Kyle Eubank captured a close victory in the 100 butterfly.

Halvorson and Eubank teamed up with Kyan Bell and Drew Foertsch for a win in the 200 freestyle relay. As the meet reached its latter stages, Halvorson secured the top spot in the 100 backstroke.

“Our boys swam pretty well,” Ayer said. “We’re still fighting the young habits that we’re trying to break. Some of them are seeing improvement. Some of them, since they missed a little bit of time out of the pool over break, went back to their old habits. We’ve got to get back on them on that. We were in pretty good shape. The last two events is where Mater Dei got us on the boys side.”

Heritage Hills will return to the pool for its final home meet of the season at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday against Tell City. The Pats will celebrate senior night against the Marksmen.

“It’s always kind of bittersweet with the seniors,” Ayer said. “These guys, I’ve been with them for three years now. I’ve been building some relationships with them. I’ll be happy to see them go on and do the things they plan on doing in the future. On the other hand, you’re going to miss being around them.”

As the pool cleared out, Ayer offered a candid assessment of the road ahead.

“We’ve still got a lot of work to do,” he said. “We’ll see how it goes. I was talking to Mater Dei’s coach. I think we’re all in the same boat. We’re just hoping we can make it through to conference and sectionals without having our season ending abruptly. We’re training as we’re going to make it.”

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