In the wake of Divisional Relay Carnival, many teams enter week 4 looking to solidify their positioning in the division, especially if you are the 2 and 3 seed. Since coming back up to D1 in 2010, Tuckahoe has been the perennial #3 team in the top division with the exception of one year (2015). Being in the 3 spot means you swim the top team in week 3 and the second team the following weekend–this is important to note because that often means your team faces losing a meet, and a shot at the divisional crown, a week earlier than the top two teams. This can have the effect of emotionally draining a team heading into the divisional relay carnival and continue bleeding through the final two meets of the season, causing a very competitive team to go home without claiming one of the three championship trophies (All-Stars and D1 are the other two)–or worse, letting the 4 seed upset you in week 5 and effectively taking a step back.
Overlee has managed to finish in the top two for the last 12 seasons, which gives them a competitive edge in reclaiming the league title each year they can give their team an extra week or two of development before having to swim their toughest competition. Last weekend, Tuckahoe took their first loss of the season–without a win against Overlee, and the Flying Fish knocking off the Tiger Sharks next week, setting up a three-way tie for 1st at 4-1, Tuckahoe could finish 2018 without any hardware. However, as we have already laid out, this meet has enormous implications for the D1 landscape heading into the future. If Tuckahoe can win this one, the Tigers could complete their highest team finish in nearly 3 decades–for that reason, Tuckahoe has everything to gain with a win!
Overlee has much more on the line heading into this heavyweight bout–The Flying Fish cannot look past Tuckahoe and think about their annual ‘championship meet’ with Chesterbrook without coming out of week 4 with a win. Holding onto control of the season schedule next season depends on getting the 4th win–but that could also put Overlee in position to potentially claim their 30th Division 1 championship in 61 years of competition if they can run the table in the final two weeks. With the stakes clearly laid out, we can now approach the competition in the pool.
Overlee and Tuckahoe are two very evenly matched teams that on paper could not be closer–inside sources have told the Ninjas that this meet scored on seeds is within 10 points. Both teams have corresponding top talent and depth, primarily in the 15-18 girls age group, which will create memorable races each time the big girls hit the pool. Similarly, both teams have gaping weaknesses that will struggle to score meaningful points because the other side is strong in those spots. Overlee’s 9-10 boys will have their work cut out for them against First Team Preseason All Swim Ninja selection Bruno Haggard and his streak of tigers. To a lesser degree, the 11-12 girls will be a tough matchup for Overlee to counter. However, Overlee has the decisive advantage with their 13-14 girls and 15-18 boys–consecutive age groups scoring major points not only helps in the point margin but also can fire up one sideline in a meaningful way.
Overlee should win 7 relays but will have a close challenge in the 8-under girls’ race, which means we are essentially looking at splitting points evenly in the decisive back end of the meet. The 15-18 girls will be the slider that should be the best gauge for determining in which direction this meet is going–if Tuckahoe takes first in free and back that could be a sign that the Tigers are more fired up to win on Saturday. However, Overlee appears to have more age groups where they are not only stronger but much deeper. The Flying Fish will be fired up for Senior Day at their final home meet, and will certainly have home pool advantage–after all, they have lost only two meets at home since 2006. Final prediction: Overlee wins 225-195. Overlee will need to roll with the punches in freestyle and get to the back half of the meet where they are stronger without giving up too much early on. There is no doubt that this meet will be one worth paying attention to, and we look forward to showing everyone all the action from the morning once it is all over!
Good Luck Flying Fish and Tigers!