The curtain rises on the championship season this weekend with the Central League championships, the first stepping stone toward districts and states for many of the county’s elite swimmers.
The District One picture will come into clearer focus on an individual basis once the league championship meets play out and we get a glimpse of what events some of the big names will choose. But one thing we can look at at this early juncture is the relay situation. After all, it’s an easy way to get four kids and an alternate to take the trip to Bucknell in early March.
So over the next couple of days, I’ll take a look at how things shape up for each team, where their relay strengths lie and postulate just which relay lineups you’re likely to see at Centrals this weekend and perhaps down the road.
Now time for the boys.
(Notes: I’ll confine the discussion to those teams that have had squads make at least District One consideration cuts. More of those might be made this weekend, but we’ll discuss that down the road; A denotes automatic District One cut; B denotes consideration cut.)
The Times: 200 free (Keehn, Lawrey, Hart, Cassel) 1:32.29 A; 200 medley (Ryan, Nelson, Zalles, Cassel) 1:43.16 A; 400 free (Keehn, Ryan, Hart, Cassel) 3:23.27 A.
The Skinny: The Fords are in an enviable position in that they have few decisions to make: In fact the only decision is what two relays Steve Cassel swims in. Having an exclusive breaststroke specialist (either Zack Nelson or Coire Gavin-Hanner) helps that equation. Connor Hart is pretty secure in both freestyle relays, and Brendan Ryan and Andrew Zalles are pretty assuredly on the medley relay. So what does that leave for Cassel? He’s higher up in districts in the 100 free than the 50. The Fords own the fastest time in the Central League in the 400 and the fifth-fastest in the 200, almost three second slower than pace-setter Conestoga. That means the choice of putting someone like Zalles on the 200 free should be easy.
The Verdict: Strong on the medley and 400 free.
The Times: 200 free (Tr.Caulfield, Ti.Caulfield, Evans, Cox) 1:32.24 A; 200 medley (Freedman, Gartland, Avart, Tr.Caulfield) 1:39.23 A; 400 free (Evans, Nye, Cox, Gartland) 3:24.85 B.
The Skinny: Speaking of luxuries, the Red Raiders have the chance to make no concessions if they choose; all three of the relays posted above can be rolled out with no problem. The medley is a no-brainer here; you don’t run away from a low-50s butterflier in Eli Avart and a 59-breaststroker in Mitchell Gartland. They hold the second fastest time in the 400 free in the Central League, though they don’t have a district auto cut there (and Conestoga hasn’t really put together a full A relay yet; their fastest time sits at 3:27.78). There may be more opportunity in the 400-free field, and Centrals could be a proving ground for that, perhaps by shifting Trip Caulfield to the 400 to see what they can do (maybe a 3:22-ish time).
The Verdict: Strong on the medley, A teams on the 200 and 400 free for now.
The Times: 200 free (Platt, Wolters, D.Resweber, C.Resweber) 1:32.05 A; 200 medley (C.Resweber, Wolters, Boorum, Platt) 1:43.87 B; 400 free (Platt, Boorum, McCullough, C.Resweber) 3:27.06 B.
The Skinny: There are some decisions to be made. Tom Platt and Clay Resweber are the trump cards to be used twice. Robert Boorum’s 100 fly auto cut lends credence to the medley relay. That leaves a choice between the 200 and 400 free, and the crowd of teams bunched up around the auto cut in the 400 free point toward the 200.
The Verdict: Strong on the medley and 200 free.
The Times: 200 free (Schmitt, Cislo, Woerth, Richardson) 1:32.08 A; 200 medley (Michalovic, Cislo, Woerth, Richardson) 1:43.46 A; 400 free (Schmitt, Michalovic, Woerth, Richardson) 3:25.13 B.
The Skinny: It may be my mistaken perception, but I see the only relay in which the Jags don’t have an auto cut as perhaps the most dangerous. Ivan Michalovic, on the cusp of states last year in the 500 free as a freshman, and Anthony Richardson, with a chance to make states in the 200 and 500 this season, are difference makers over 100 meters. As I’ve said before, it’s easier to fudge a 200 free than a 400, and the Jags have two horses in the 400. The likes of Bobby Schmitt and Andrew Woerth, though, are probably stronger over 50. The medley, which utilizes the strength of Max Cislo in breaststroke, is probably a definite. I’d expect the Jags to maybe load up the 400 free this weekend at Centrals – since they already have an auto cut in the 200 free to fall back on – and see where they stand.
The Verdict: Strong on the medley, to be determined on the other.
The Times: 200 free (Nurse, Karsh, Mulholland, Brennan) 1:32.68 B; 200 medley (Mulholland, Walters, Burns, Brennan) 1:43.00 A; 400 free (Mulholland, Burns, Karsh, Brennan) 3:26.87 B.
The Skinny: The Royals will almost assuredly chase the medley. As I said earlier, you don’t look a gift sub-minute breastroker (Greg Walters) in the mouth. The other three components of that relay – Dan Burns, Tom Brennan and John Mulholland – will likely carry over to the other loaded relay, whichever it is. We’ll see who slots into that fourth and final spot, whether it’s Mekhi Nurse, Andrew Karsh or someone else. My initial inclination is to see the Royals go heavy on the 200 free.
The Verdict: Strong on the medley and 200 free.
Penncrest has a pair of relays to choose from. They’ll likely go with their medley relay, highlighted by Iago Dall’Orto in breaststroke and Daniel Rosenberger in back, and the 200 free relay. … Springfield has the makings of one good relay, and it’ll likely be the 200 free. Sean Swartz and Wil Seifried are big pieces there, and they may be able to surprise if someone like Dan Stewart steps up. … The emergence of freshman Brett Korn bodes well for Ridley’s 200 free relay, which has a district consideration cut. Putting Joe Vannucci and Shane Dugan on the end are two pretty strong legs. We’ll see if they can add a medley relay cut with Quinton Beck swimming breast and Todd Walker in fly.