November 16, 2007

Today we swam Old School . . . I don't know if it was the two Will Ferrell movies we watched on the way over, or karma for us ditching our IST timing system last summer for the new Colorado system.

It all started a couple of minutes before the start of the meet when Kalamazoo's timing system crashed. I felt terrible for them - we had an IST system and had more than our fair share of crashes so as I said to an apologetic Coach Milliken, "Don't worry. I've been there and am probably the most understanding person here." So out came the stopwatches. A little while later, the start system gave out leaving the starter to pull out the gun. All that was missing were kids showing up to the blocks with entry cards in their hands.

What wasn't missing was some great racing. In fact, it was kind of refreshing to not have the scoreboard and fed into our approach for the meet. Kalamazoo and Hope both have outstanding teams, teams we expect to be battling with for spots into the NCAA meet. We've also traditionally not swum well outside of our own pool during the dual-meet season, so as we went into the meet we talked about focusing not on times, but rather on racing the guys next to you. We'll shoot for times in a couple of weeks when we host the TYR/ Classic.

There were too many highlights to list and its getting late so you'll get the Cliff Notes here. After Day One, we're leading Hope 97-51, and Kalamazoo 96-52. The scores are a bit decieving though as we seemed to catch the breaks in some close races. In my experience, those breaks tend to balance out over time so the winds could change tomorrow, but unbelievably we won seven of the eight events tonight.

400 Medley Relay - This was a great battle - last year Kalamazoo went some of the nation's fastest medley times. After Kyle's 54.6 the 100, the Jackets were out in front, but Stephen split a 57.95 to pull us into the lead. Then it was Bryce and Bax splitting 53.7 and 47.6 to go the 10th fastest time in school history - 3:33.22. It was also the fastest unrested relay in school history. Our 'B' and 'C' teams were solid with the following splits: Varner 56.3, Kaseska 1:03.2, Jackson 55.1, Ripley 49.1 and Pellican 56.9, Schneider 1:05.9, Ben Healy 56.6, and Paul Busse 48.8.

200 IM - Stephen picked up his second win in as many events. When I put together the lineup, I tried to front-load it a little with some of our big guns to see if we could generate some momentum. The IM was a great battle with Derek Schneider actually getting out to the early lead. At the breaststroke though, Stephen split a 32.2 to take the lead, and narrowly held off hard-charging Hope and K-Zoo guys. Derek faded in the breast, but had some gas left on the freestyle to finish 5th. Tom Stowe (2:07.9) and Mitchell Jackson (2:10.8) followed in 8th and 11th.

500 Freestyle - Bryan took control here today, going a 4:48.7. It was a little off his time against Lewis, but he looked downright easy doing it. Paul slipped ahead of Hope's Phil Heyboer to take second in 4:54.7. Alex VanHuis went sub-5:00 for the first time this season to finish 4th while Ben Healy almost did the same, finishing 6th in 5:00.9.

100 Breaststroke - This was set to be a marquee matchup. Stephen and Kalamazoo's Alfonso Espinosa should both be finalists at this year's NCAA Championships. Stephen jumped out to the early lead and its a good thing he did because Espinosa closed fast in the last 50. Something tells me that the effects of swimming three of the first four events were taking their toll on Steve. As we explained though, it was all about getting the hand to the wall first and Steve did that, just 4/10 ahead. Scott Kaseska equalled his best time this season and looked downright pedestrian doing it. Derek (1:05.0) and Chris Steenrod (1:08.4) both went season-bests to finish 7th and 12th respectively.

200 Backstroke - This was also expected to be a marquee event. Kalamazoo's Paul Ellis is one of the nation's top backstroker and we're hoping that Kyle Drake will be the same. Kyle got out faster than usual, but was still behind at the 100-yard mark. I have to admit though, it's a great feeling watching a race seeing your guy behind and having the feeling "yeah, we're fine...." It was that way with Nathaniel Chapman and now with Kyle (as his coach Bill Schalz explains . . . Kyle Drake has never met a negative-split that he doesn't like). What was a bit more suprising (in a good way) was Bob Pellican closing in on Ellis as well. Bob touched the wall in 2:00.8, just a second off his lifetime best. Pat Alfes and Chris Varner both went out more aggressively and were rewarded with good times (2:04.3 for Pat, 2:05.8 for Chris).

100 Freestyle - After catching some breaks and wins in each event, I kind of figured our luck would run a little drier on the 100 free. After all, we'd been winning events where training wins races and we take pride in our training. In the sprints, we would have to swim better races from a tactical and biomechanical standpoint (i.e. talent). Bryce won the first heat fairly easily, going 48.31. Isaac was just a couple of 10th's off his season best with a 51.4. Then it was time for the big heat. We definitely struggled with the walls and some poor streamline/breakouts. Bax (49.2) was our first guy to the wall, but the 4th in his heat. Rip was right behind, in 49.6. Over dinner we kind of gave them a hard time about how we were winning races up until the 'sprinters turn'. It wasn't until I sat down to write this that I saw the results and saw that Bryce had won the event from the first heat. Like I said, it was that kind of night.

200 Butterfly - The 200 fly was a Pelka sweep. First it was Michell taking the women's event - nearly two seconds under the school record! Then it was big brother's turn. He (1:59.1) and Alex (2:02.2) went 1-2. Alex edged ahead of Kalamazoo's uber-flyer Rob Dekker by 0.03 seconds. Alex's time was a lifetime best as was Mitchell Jackson (2:07.9). Ben Healy went 2:07.8 (7th) to move up to 15th on the all-time list.

200 Free Relay - By the sprint free relay our luck was up. After going 1:27.2 a couple of weeks ago, the best we could muster was a 1:28.7 today and we really didn't look great doing it. Andy led off with a 22.5 before Rip split a 21.56. Now that looks like a pretty solid time, but having seen his start firsthand, I'd say if it was a flat start, he was probably 22.5 (i.e. I thought he was early off the blocks). Bryce pulled us back into the race with a 21.9. Then we gave it to the rookie - Buck Hoover who came home in 22.6. Our 'B' was just out of the money as well, finishing 6rh in 1:32.5 with splits of 23.6 (Varner), 22.0 (Pellican), 22.7 (Walkotten) and 23.5 (Rothenbaum). The 'C' won their heat with splits of 24.6 (Trella), 22.8 (Paul Busse), 24.0 (Cary Healy with a slip on the start) and 22.9 (Kaseska).

So that's it on the night. We start up again at 11:00 am tomorrow. We've got a lead, but we've also got a battle ahead of us.



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