Cats dominate; Vaiardi breaks another record


Megan Matheis

JASPER — Jasper welcomed Northeast Dubois and Tell City for a three-team swim meet on Thursday. The meet consisted of 24 events, with the home team winning 18 of them.

Jasper boys (4-0) and girls (3-1) both ran away with the scores on their respective sides. The boys won with 167 points, compared to 89 for Northeast Dubois and 41 for Tell City. The girls posted a score of 158. Tell City girls came in second with 109, while Northeast Dubois finished in third with 30.

“We feel pretty good,” Jasper swim coach Kristin Gutgsell said. “We had some really good swims on both sides, both the boys and the girls, which is what we want. The wins are nice, but as long as we’re improving with our times and getting better in the water, that’s our main goal.” 

The boys showed depth in their relays Thursday evening. Jasper’s boys took first place in all three relays they competed in — the 200 medley, the 200 freestyle and the 400 freestyle. The Wildcats also finished in second place in the 200 medley and 200 freestyle, and just missed out on getting second place in the 400 freestyle.

“I’m really excited about how we are from top to bottom on the boys team,” Gutgsell said. 

Gutgsell had a lot of praise for sophomores Avery Henke and Megan Matheis for being key roles in her relays on the girls side. Jasper’s girls swept the relays, just like the boys did. Henke was part of all three winning relay teams, and Matheis joined her on the 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays. Henke also won the 200 individual medley with a time of 2:26.69. Matheis scooped up wins in the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle with times of 26.59 and 57.51, respectively. Gutgsell said she has a lot of depth on the girls side, just like she does for the boys.

“I have a lot of swimmers and a lot of teams don’t have a lot of swimmers, and sometimes that helps you win meets,” she said. 

Olivia Biggs

The Wildcats were the only team to field any divers Thursday night. Sophomore Taylor Bachman and senior Olivia Biggs competed on the girls side. The boys featured junior Eli Hopf, and sophomore Seth Eckert. Every diver for Jasper performed six dives. Biggs won the girls side, 183.55 to 158. Eckert prevailed on the boys side, 166.40 to 134.85, and Jasper diving coach Kristy Vaughn said there’s a lot the team needs to work on. Her main focus is getting ready for the 11-dive meet Dec. 20 in the Wildcat Invitational.

“We’re really working on the top end and setting up dives well,” Vaughn said. “Our girls did that really well.”

Vaughn praised Bachman for having a nice meet. She said the Wildcats will focus on getting off the diving board well, having clean positions in the air and the entries as well. Setup is what’s most important to her, and finishing the dives will come as Jasper trains more.

“We have to focus on that,” she said of the Dec. 20 meet. “We’re really looking forward to that competition because it’s such a different animal, and that means you have to have 11 dives strong. You don’t have to be outstanding, but you can’t have any weaknesses. So, we’ve got a lot of little things to clean up on, some of our required dives.”

Gutgsell said there is different stuff Jasper needs to work on before Monday’s home meet against Evansville Memorial. She said the starts and turns for the Wildcats are not that the great, and added her swimmers are doing a lot of breathing in and out of the wall. Gutgsell said Monday’s meet will be tough, and hopes depth will play a role just like it did Thursday night.

She said practice coming up won’t deviate too much from what she’s trying to accomplish in getting ready for sectionals.

“We’ll do some turn work and we’ll do some starts just because we do have a meet on Monday night, but it won’t be anything out of the ordinary over the next couple of days,” Gutgsell said. “It’s just moving through and continuing to work toward the end goal, which is swimming as fast as we can in February.”

Vaiardi does it again

Lorenzo Vaiardi

Northeast Dubois junior Lorenzo Vaiardi broke his own school record in the 200 individual medley Thursday night. Vaiardi’s previous time in the 200 individual medley was 2:04.53, and he managed to trim that to 2:02.88 on Thursday. Jasper freshman Mason Thornburgh came in second with a time of 2:19.80. Vaiardi almost broke his own record in the 100 breaststroke. He swam a time of 1:00.86. His record is 1:00.71.

“He’s just a motivated kid,” Northeast Dubois swim coach Kendra Friedman said. “He just wants to do his best every single time. There’s really not much more you can about it. He tries hard every single time he’s in the water.” 

Vaiardi did not have much time after nearly breaking his own record in the 100 breaststroke. He was the final swimmer on the 400 freestyle relay team. Jasper had already won the race, but second place was up for grabs. It came down to the wire between Vaiardi and Thornburgh in a race back to the wall. Vaiardi just pulled through, sending his teammates with the Jeeps boys (2-1) into cheers. 

He said relays are always a big question mark because it depends both on his team and the opponent as well. Vaiardi said his team did really well, and he was happy to give his team more points.

“On the final turn, I just felt so good,” Vaiardi said. 

Friedman said she was pleasantly surprised after the meet on Thursday. She wanted to see where Northeast Dubois was and how it stacks up against bigger schools. Friedman said it was good to get second and third place against teams like Jasper and Tell City.

However, Friedman believes her swimmers need to work on a lot of things. She thought the Jeeps had weak turns, weren’t utilizing underwater kicks and some had sloppy swims in terms of technique. 

The best placer for Northeast Dubois girls (0-3) was sophomore Anna Schnell, who came in fourth in both the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle.

The Jeeps will see Tell City again on Tuesday when they travel there for their next meet.

“I think, really, the biggest thing is working on our turns,” Friedman said.

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