Wildcats sweep Raiders in pool

Kayla Renie/The Herald
Swimmers compete in the girls 50-yard freestyle during Thursday's swim meet in Huntingburg.
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HUNTINGBURG — Jasper renewing its rivalry with Southridge in the pool Thursday left bragging rights up for grabs.

The Wildcats had a hot start to claim a 118-68 victory on the girls side. Southridge having just one male swimmer, freshman Reilly Lechmer, led Jasper to cruise to a 146-6 triumph on the boys side. Jasper won the first nine events of the meet.

However, Thursday saw more than just a win against a rival at stake. It also provided opportunity. The boys and girls have the Big Eight Conference meet coming up, and the girls have sectionals Feb. 8. Jasper coach Kristin Gutgsell used Thursday to audition spots on both sides for conference and sectionals in the coming weeks.

“Some of the fellows tonight were swimming for those spots,” Gutgsell said. “So, they had to compete against each other, and they did a really good job. We just came out of Christmas training. I’ve been working them really, really hard. So, they’re really tired, and we had some good swims even with that hard work. So, that’s obviously a positive going into the final part of our season here.”

Gutgsell said Thursday’s meet at Southridge, and the Jan. 16 triangular meet against Heritage Hills and Pike Central will be the two meets to determine lineup spots in conference. The boys' lineup won’t be set in stone going forward, however. They will have to compete Feb. 1 at the Mt. Vernon Invite, with swimmers who didn’t make the conference lineup having a chance to crack the sectional lineup. She’s trying to figure out what the best combination is for relays.

“Our competition at conference is different than our competition at sectionals,” she said. “So, I have to have potentially different lineups based on those teams. Right now, I’m really focused on conference, because that’s our first meet.”

Gutgsell said the same goes for the girls' side, too. She has the luxury of having a large team, so she can move people around for the best lineup. Gutgsell said Jasper is looking toward the end game with conference and girls sectionals both coming up. She said the Wildcats will keep training hard, focusing on streamlines off the walls and starts, which can add time when they don’t do things the right way.

Jasper senior Olivia Biggs took first place in girls diving. Her 181.75 score was the highest on either the boys' or girls' side.

Wildcats diving coach Kristy Vaughn said Jasper is trying to work on narrow throws and clean entries. Entries are a point of emphasis for Jasper during the second half of the season.

The Wildcats gave their male divers some opportunities on Thursday for the first time this season. Senior Joe Wood and freshman Daniel King got varsity time, although they’re usually junior varsity. Vaughn thought they did well despite both of them, especially King, being nervous.

“They work hard, just as hard,” Vaughn said of Wood and King. “I’d like to be able to have more meets where we could give them opportunity. Unfortunately, we don’t get to put extra divers or have JV opportunities as often. So, I wanted to give them a shot when we knew we could, and obviously, this meet, with Southridge having such a small team, we knew it would be a good opportunity.”

Vaughn said everything has to be really good against Heritage Hills and Pike Central, calling those teams the best competition the female divers will see all season long.

“We’ve got to work on making sure everything’s clean from here on out,” she said. “You can’t have faulty positions or any of those types of things.

The Raiders won their first event when Lechmer came out on top in the boys diving with a score of 146.20.

Kayla Renie/The Herald
Southridge's Cheyanne Motteler competes in the girls 200-yard freestyle during Thursday's swim meet in Huntingburg.
You can check out more photos from the meet by clicking here.

“When he’s working hard, he does a really good job,” Southridge coach Amy Kaetzel said. “I think he’s got some definite potential."

The Southridge female swimmers rattled off four wins in a row, starting with sophomore Jordan Biehl, who recently had been dealing a strained shoulder, to win the 100 freestyle by a nose, 1:02.95 to 1:03.01 against Jasper junior Claire Witte.

“I think, while she was able to not swim completely, she was doing a lot of kicks,” Kaetzel said. “Her kick was a lot stronger, and she kind of focused on that — built those muscles up and just made herself use them.”

Southridge has one final swim meet on Monday, welcoming Evansville Central, Vincennes Lincoln and Wood Memorial before the Jan. 23 Pocket Athletic Conference meet at Tecumseh.

Kaetzel said today’s practice would focus on technique, getting ready for PAC and fine tuning stuff.

“I think we’ll do pretty well, as long as everybody can compete,” she said of the PAC meet.

Gutgsell said the Wildcats will keep working hard until the Jan. 16 meet.

“We've got to come in, we've got to be at the top of our game and we've got to win some events,” Gutgsell said. “In a tri-meet, it comes down to who wins the events, because that’s where you score most of the points.”

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