Radnor boys swimming coach Tom Robinson has been at the helm quite a while. So when he gets thrown something he’s never seen before, you can chalk it up to something rare.
The stunner is Radnor’s dual meet with Conestoga. Robinson has seen many of those before, but this is the first one to stretch into a third week.
Thanks to some schedule wrangling, the Red Raiders and Pioneers swam against each other Jan. 4 at Conestoga’s home pool, the Upper Main Line YMCA. That pool, however, lacks a diving board. The standard protocol is for Conestoga to make arrangements for a separate diving contest, usually a day or two before the meet, but with the meet falling on the first competition day after the winter break, that wasn’t possible.
So a week on, the meet is still unfinished, making for an agonizing wait to decide what may turn out to be a rare win for the Red Raiders. When the divers for the respective teams hit the boards Jan. 16, Radnor will be trying to hold onto an 88-82 lead.
Neither team has the deepest stable of divers. Radnor’s boys, for instance, were swept by Haverford in their dual meet Wednesday. The leader all season has been Henry Laveran, who scored 137.65 points against Haverford. Cody Terrion was next at 117.90, while Jack Newton-Tanzer is the third diver. Conestoga has used only two divers most of the season, with Alex Sawyer and Bobby Pragada each scoring around 120, though consistency is an issue. To compete, they’ll have to find a third diver somewhere.
Points wise, the Pioneers need 11 points from diving to earn a 93-all tie and 12 points to pull an upset. To win, Conestoga would need to take places one, two and four in the diving competition; if Leveran takes care of business and wins, there’s no way Conestoga can even tie. To get a decision of any kind, the Pioneers would need the as-yet unnamed third diver to score at least a point, two to win.
It creates an odd dynamic for the swimmers, who have done all they can for their first win over Conestoga since 2009.
“We are cautiously optimistic about this meet,” Radnor senior Trip Caulfield said. “We’re pretty confident that they’ll be able to score enough points. Now we’re not going out and celebrating a win yet. … It’s a very different situation, as in the equivalent of this meet last year. As a swimmer going into the last relay, you feel like you have a chance to contribute. But watching from the fans is kind of a helpless feeling, but we’re confident in our divers.”
The peculiarity of the situation leaves the swimmers as just cheerleaders for the next week.
“We know we have strong divers,” Eli Avart said. “… We are really confident with them. Our whole atmosphere was good, and everyone had best times and strong swims all around. To have the chance to win the Conestoga meet is insane.”
Since the meet, technically didn’t conclude, we didn’t get results in our paper, so here goes. Mitchell Gartland finished second in the 200 individual medley in a compelling battle with Alex Schon; he later got the better of Brian Jay in the 100 breast. Ryan Freedman won the 100 back as part of a crucial 1-3-4 finish that included Avart, who was also second in the 100 fly. Caulfield and Kevin Cox finished second and third in the 100 free, while Declan Evans‘ second in the 500 helped limit the point loss there. Perhaps the key was the 50 free in which Caulfield, Cox and Freedman went 2-3-4 to take nine vital points.