The Central League title race has been resolved, and the door is shut for the highest team in these rankings to win its league, so there isn’t much left beyond formalities in wrapping up the dual meet season. Here’s how the glut of meets early in January have shaped the rankings. (Records through Jan. 19)
1. Haverford School (2-1) Last Week: No. 1
The big question here is who would win in a dual meet, Haverford School or Radnor? It would be a very tight meet, and there would be a lot of instances where Radnor’s depth would result in the kinds of 2-3-4 finishes that would swing events in their favor. But the edge goes to the Fords, in my mind. If you took the swimmers from both teams, four of the five fastest (or so) probably hail from the Fords. They aren’t the deepest of teams and their second-tier swimmers aren’t as fast as Radnor’s second-tier guys. But coupled with an edge in diving through Alec Tyminsky, I think they’d do just enough to hold off Radnor.
2. Radnor (6-0) Last Week: No. 2
The Raiders have been very, very impressive in quietly handling their business in the Central League. This is a team that may only have one swimmer (Eli Avart) seriously challenge for states in an individual event, but they could easily land two or more relays at states. That’s what depth is all about.
3. Episcopal Academy (2-1) Last Week: No. 3
When you see Waylon Jin go under a minute in the 100 breast during a January dual meet in his home pool (a pretty but not exceptionally quick pool), that’s impressive. He and Ben Baturka could have very big postseasons.
4. Strath Haven (5-2) Last Week: No. 6
The last major battle of the regular season appears to be Strath Haven-Haverford next week, and it’s likely that the boys meet will be the tighter of the two. Provisionally, I’m giving the Panthers the edge, though the common-opponent test is pretty inconclusive. Sean Adams and Ben Wolters have been swimming well lately, and Haven has managed to find enough solid swimmers to fill out the lineup that they could mount a charge.
5. Haverford (6-3) Last Week: No. 4
This is the part of the season where swimmers are building up the yards to drop down for postseason tapers, so it surprises me somewhat to see swimmers posting season-best times. Some of the times set by Fords in recent weeks, especially, jumped out, led by Matt Phillips’ 22.55 in the 50 free against Springfield. That’s a great sign that the Fords can make such progress even when they’re in the depths of training.
6. Penncrest (6-1) Last Week: No. 5
Daniel Rosenberger is one of the swimmers I’d keep an eye on this postseason. He’s got a pair of automatic district cuts, so there’s no sweating that or having to rest for Centrals. This postseason could be one where the junior takes some big steps forward.
7. Ridley (7-2) Last Week: NR
The Green Raiders beat an Ivan Michalovic-less Garnet valley team to jump into the rankings. That’s a sizeable caveat to that win, but ultimately it comes down to scoring points and winning races, and that’s what Ridley managed to do.