Pats sweep Pike Central in competitive coed meet

Photo by Jimmy Lafakis/The Herald
Heritage Hills freshman Skyler Nelson swims in the 200 medley relay during Monday evening’s meet against Pike Central in Lincoln City.


LINCOLN CITY — In the midst of an unprecedented season, Monday evening’s Pocket Athletic Conference competition between Heritage Hills and Pike Central marked a noteworthy milestone — the Pats’ first home swim meet. Heritage Hills protected its friendly confines with two close wins.

The girls took a hard-earned 104-80 victory over the Chargers. The boys side offered more back-and-forth action, but the Pats edged out the Chargers in a 75-67 contest.

“It’s good to be back and swim in our own pool,” Heritage Hills head coach Gary Ayer said. “I heard our live feed worked well tonight. That’s always exciting, too.”

The Pats stormed out to a quick lead. When the 200 medley relay events began, several Heritage Hills student-athletes broke out into hearty cheers for their teammates.

The encouragement helped both the boys and girls capture wins in the relays, and those two victories provided early boosts for the Pats.

“At Boonville, they had to sit up top,” Ayer said. “That’s part of it, and that’s fine. I understand all of that. Here, we don’t have that. It makes it easier for the kids to get involved when they’re right there on the side. It’s really weird not having spectators. It’s usually really, really loud during a meet with everybody cheering. Pike Central’s kids were close enough where they could get into it, and it helps the atmosphere a lot.”

During the Nov. 24 meet in Boonville, only seven of the 20 Heritage Hills boys were available. On Monday, Ayer took advantage of the team’s additional depth and flexibility. Kyle Eubank’s win in the 200 freestyle generated some early momentum.

“Anybody we get back is going to be huge,” Ayer said. “Hopefully, knock on wood, it looks like we should have everybody back and eligible for next Monday’s meet.”

On the girls side, Avery Vinson scored critical points with a victory in the 200 individual medley. Jada Banks won both the 50 freestyle and the 100 butterfly for the Pats, while Lily Gogel took the top spot in the 200 freestyle and the 100 backstroke.

Heritage Hills closed the meet with some late surges and a clean sweep of both 400 freestyle relays. After the final scores were announced, Ayer offered a candid assessment of the Pats’ performances.

“I saw a lot of tired bodies, which is what you want this time of year,” said. “I got a couple of my girls back that have been in quarantine. They’re still out of shape, but we’ll get them back into shape quickly. I felt like we swam really well. I’m happy with the way we swam. I’m seeing some improvement.”

Although Pike Central dropped both contests, the Chargers proved to be formidable foes for the Pats.

“I always like swimming against Pike,” Ayer said. “They’re going to have a very solid team by the end of the year.”

Heritage Hills will return to compete against Evansville Reitz at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 7 at home.

“I kind of prepare backwards,” Ayer said. “I start looking at conference and sectionals. I want to build for that. A lot of the stuff that I’m doing right now is just giving me an idea of who I might be able to swim where. I don’t have anybody that I can sit here and go, ‘They’re going to swim this at sectionals or conference. They’re going to swim this.’ I’m just trying to figure out all my options and what’s going to be best for the team.”

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