Highlander swimmers leave opponents short of breath
Homestead takes relays by wide margin
There's always power in numbers.
And that concept took different forms in the North Shore Conference Relays won by Homestead on Sept. 14.
The Highlanders, the decade-long queens of the pool in the NSC, have the largest team in terms of numbers, and that allowed them to overpower the field with 95 points.
"Every finish we had was in the top three, which was a very good showing," said Highlanders coach Mark Gwidt. "There was a lot of great competition out there, and we really showed our racing chops."
But Whitefish Bay proved that though graduation last spring took a number of talented swimmers, they could too also use depth and numbers to take a strong second.
"We really maximized our performances," said Blue Duke coach Jim Davis. "It was an outstanding performance."
Meanwhile, Nicolet, down in numbers due to the floods and the haphazard start to school, proved they still had a small, but solid number of talented individuals, taking three firsts en route to finishing fourth.
"It was fun to win three relays," said Nicolet coach Dwight Davis, "but we had two DQs which hurt us."
Other numbers came into play. Since coaches had to mix and match their teams, sometimes putting a really good swimmer right in front (or behind) a less talented performer, races took on a yo-yo effect with teams always moving up or down.
"It was crazy," said Dwight Davis, "and that's what makes a meet like this so impressive. You could be five, eight or 10 yards down and if you have the right person in the right spot, you could still come back and move up."
And the most impressive number in host Jim Davis' eyes, was how quick the meet got done on a school night.
"We were out of there by 7:45 p.m.," he said. "Everything went really well. We had great people working the scoring table."
Homestead outnumbered everyone with 95 points as Bay came in with 74 and Nicolet scored 64.
The Highlanders took four first places and five second places en route to the championship.
Earning the firsts were the 400 medley relay team of Maiya Hilliard, Meghan Casey, Mary Gabe and Molly Zall (4:24.28); the 300 breaststroke crew of Margaret Stolz, Casey, Monique Ma and Gabe (3:35.55); the 500 crescendo relay of Hannah Mains, Stephanie Sandall, Rachel Kesseler and Brittany Thomas (5:13.06); and the 300 butterfly crew of Stolz, Casey, Ma and Gabe (3:35.55).
Taking seconds were the 100 freestyle team of Mains, Marley McCallister, Emily Zall and Madeleine Richter (52.61); the diving pair of Kayla Pulito and Lindsay Berman; the 100 medley crew of Meaghan McLean, Madeline Happ, McCallister and Mains (1:00.96); the 400 individual medley unit of Stolz, Kesseler, Richter and Ma (4:32.49); and the 200 medley team of Happ, Casey, Gabe and Molly Zall (2:05.69).
All those high finishes led Gwidt to discuss another great number.
"Everyone gave 100 percent," he said. "You do that, good things are bound to happen."
Which was the thought of Jim Davis too.
The Blue Dukes only first came in the 400 individual medley, which included Sarah Olver, Elissa Maercklein, Erin Oldson and Annelise Sprau (4:28.97).
But Bay succeeded in earning four seconds, including the 400 medley relay team of Annie Vellon, Oldson, Alis Stewart and Caroline Kucha (4:33.0); the 300 backstroke crew of Maercklein, Stewart, Vellon and Sprau (3:07.36); the 500 crescendo unit of Theresa Schumaker, Kucha, Marissa Lovell and Sabrina Raber (5:13.21) and the 300 butterfly crew of Stewart, Amanda Smerlinski, Sarah Schwei and Sprau (3:17.66).
The crescendo relay narrowly missed out on beating Homestead by just 0.05 of a second.
"We really zipped through the meet," said Jim Davis, "and there were some really good times out there. Next time though, we'll build in some time so we can go through the (individual race) awards in a better way, give the kids some downtime."
For Dwight Davis, whose Nicolet team had the happy news of being able to practice in their own pool last week for the first time all season, the meet resembled a coming back to normalcy.
"We're still trying to get going," said Dwight.
The Knights were missing All-American diver Cali Head (ankle) and relied heavily on the quartet of Yvonne Hangsterfer, Taylor Winter, Christa Rumbaugh and Elizabeth Schoenfeldt.
That group won the 800 free (8:29.14); the 200 free (1:48.6) and the 400 free (3:54.68) races.
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