Thursday evening brought three local schools to the Warsaw Natatorium on the campus of Shawnee State University for a swim meet.
The Northwest Mohawks, Notre Dame Titans, and Wheelersburg Pirates all met in a clash of the boys and girls teams for the trio of schools.
Notre Dame was the most impressive numbers wise of the three, winning or tying in all of the head-to-head matchups.
On the boys side, the Titans pushed past Wheelersburg 67-25. Notre Dame boys would also knock off Northwest by a team total of 77-14.
In girls competition, the Titans edged the Pirates 46-40, and tied with the Mohawks at 45 even.
Wheelersburg withstood Northwest in the team race on the boys side, 47-27. The Mohawks made up for it in girls competition, beating the Pirates 52-36.
Each school was faced with several challenges, including battling the long holiday break as well as the onslaught of the flu that impacted each team.
“I would say we’re lucky that we did as well as we did,” Notre Dame swim coach John Taylor said. “Everybody looks tired, it’s after break so everybody is exhausted from coming back and working out where they didn’t over the break.”
“Overall, you can’t be disappointed when you win. I think for the most part, we didn’t swim our best but we swam good enough.”
Several swimmers stood out to Taylor in what was an overall solid outing on the score sheet for the Titans.
“I thought Joseph Beckett swam really well tonight,” Taylor said.
Beckett placed second in the boys 100-meter butterfly (1:25.71) and was an integral part of the relay teams in the 200 SC meter freestyle relay and the 400 SC meter freestyle relay.
Beyond Beckett, Taylor’s team got a left from several others in the boys competition.
“We had a couple kids that won multiple events, Sam Mays in the 50 and the 100,” Taylor said. “Tris Taylor won butterfly and backstroke.”
Mays finished with a time of 27.25 in the 50 SC meter freestyle.
Following up that performance in the 100 SC meter freestyle, Mays won the race by around two seconds (1:02.50), narrowly beating out Northwest’s Jeremiah Bruch (1:04.35).
Mays was also a part of the 200 SC meter medley relay with Taylor, and the two were also crucial in the 200 SC meter freestyle relay later in the meet. The Titans placed first in both of those events.
Taylor impressed in his two individual events, finishing first in the 100 SC meter butterfly (1:11.97) by nearly 14 seconds, and first in the 100 SC meter backstroke (1:18.69) by almost 13 seconds against Wheelersburg.
On the opposite side, Coach Taylor was impressed with Courtney Blau in the girls events.
“Courtney Blau on the girls side usually typically does pretty well, and she did pretty well tonight,” Taylor said.
Blau came in first in the 50 SC meter freestyle (35.14) and won the 100 SC meter freestyle (1:20.45) by over 17 seconds against her competition for the Pirates.
Also utilized in the relay races, Blau was huge as the anchor in the 200 SC meter freestyle relay for Notre Dame in their first-place finish (2:24.39). Blau reversed her role in the 400 SC meter freestyle relay, swimming last for the Titans, and her team experienced a first-place finish once again (5:46.04).
Wheelersburg coach Janet Hall said that her team had as many as six players sidelined with the flu, and that the break impacted the Pirates as well.
“We’re a little off today from the break,” Hall said. “We’ve been out of the water for almost two weeks, and you could really tell. It really hurt their times, for the most part.”
“There were a few that had personal best times, and that’s always really good.”
In particular, Riley Jo Royal was impressive to her head coach.
“Riley Jo took off about five seconds on her 100 freestyles,” Hall said.
Royal finished the race with a time of 1:37.51, and in a meet where some struggled, showed signs of improvement.
For Northwest and coach Michelle Tackett, the same lingering concerns were impacting her teams as well.
“Since they had a week off, they might not have got their best times tonight,” Tackett said. “We always try our best, and we always try to get our best times. So, it doesn’t matter how they place, we just want to work on their best times.”
Still, there were plenty of signs of success to build on, especially on the girls side where the Mohawks tied with the Titans.
Northwest got it going in the 200 SC meter medley relay, finishing first in the opening event. The four girls who comprised that unit were Mikayla McGuire, Hanna Tackett, Josie Tackett, and Maddie Montavon.
That same group of four would also win the 400 SC meter freestyle relay with a time of 5:26.74, almost 20 seconds better than the next closest finisher.
Hanna Tackett would finish first place in several individual events, including the 200 SC meter freestyle (2:33.52) and the 100 SC meter breaststroke (1:27.55).
Josie Tackett impressed in the 100 SC meter butterfly (1:19.59) which was around 25 seconds better than the second place finisher.
“We’ve still got another month, so I hope to work a little bit on the things we need to work on,” Tackett said. “Then, we can come out stronger by the end of the month for Athens.”
“I’m very proud of my team, I love them all. I wish them well.”
Coming back from break, there was a bit of a lull for some kids, but the coaches are making sure their kids don’t get too down on themselves.
“I tried to let them know when you have an extended break like this in the middle of the season, when you come back and don’t swim up to your standards or your best times, that you can’t get discouraged by that,” Taylor said.
“It’s going to take a week or two to get back in the flow of things and to get in the shape you were prior to break. So, don’t get disheartened over one meet, it’ll come back.”
With over a month left in the season, there are still several meets for teams to work on their weaknesses and improve their strengths. But of course, the season will be winding down before you know it.
“We’ve just got a couple weeks and we’re at sectionals, it doesn’t seem like it’s that long,” Hall said. “We have a lot of work to do to catch up.”
These teams will see each other several more times during the regular season before it’s all said and done, along with Portsmouth.
Notre Dame is hoping to challenge themselves with some stiff competition from beyond Scioto County.
“We’ve got a lot of really good out of the area competition coming up, so I figure we’ll step it up here in the next few weeks,” Taylor said.
As the season hits full stride, it looks like the swimming slate in the area is worth taking a dive into.
Reach Benjamin Spicer at (502)264-7318 or on Twitter @BSpicerPDT or at Facebook.com/ReporterBenSpicer