Wakefield Chapel enters Division 2 after falling out of Division 1 last season and faces the Hamlet Green Feet, who finished 3rd in D2 with a 3-1-1 record. Both teams come into the meet with a few NVSL Preseason All-Swim Ninja selections–the Wahoos with 2 and Hamlet with 6! Furthermore, beyond these superstars, both teams have a variety of depth in similar age groups that will force this meet to ultimately be decided by who can turn their seeded 4th places into 3rds, and 3rds into 2nds. These marginal point swings are often the deciding factor in NVSL meets and the week 1 showdown between WC and HSC will be no different. With no relay times to assess, on seed times alone, Hamlet would head into the final 12 races up 189-173, needing 5 relays to win the meet.
Let’s break down this meet by age group:
*Predictions are based on seed times/available data*
In week 1, while everyone is starting to get a feel for the summer season, gaining momentum early is critical in the meet and in each event. On paper, WC looks to be able to pick up 34 of 72 total points in the age group between both boys and girls. While Hamlet will be led by Preseason All-Swim Ninja selection Bennett Steele, the Wahoos have greater consistency in terms of their competitiveness across their three swimmers in each event, creating the possibility for lopsided point pickups by scoring 1st and 2nd place (5+3=8pts/9). Don’t get too locked in on watching the person out in front in the middle lane–this age group features a number of races that should come to the touch to decide 2nd-4th! Oh wait…did we forget to mention that these are 8-unders? Nothing is a sure thing in youth sports, even when you have kids with more competitive experience at a young age. Hamlet will need to take advantage of that experience in free and get their team off to a good start by getting the little ones excited to race–the 4 point difference in this age group is quickly erased by swapping one third with a second place, with all too many opportunities for it to happen.
Races to Watch: Boys Free/Back + Girls Back/Fly
Advantage: Lean Hamlet
This age group is Hamlet’s moneymaker–with Preseason 1st team selections in Charlie Palma and Morgan Kass, and getting help from Emme McMichael and Cameron Kuhn, the Green feet should be able to get 1st in all 8 individual races. However, Wakefield Chapel will challenge Emme in Breast, and they have opportunities to flip the script down the line to pick up small, yet meaningful points in 2nd and 3rd places. Needing to flip only 8 points throughout the meet to make up a 16 point deficit, this age group stands to be determinative if the Wahoos wind up winning at the end of the day. Aside from determining the meet, Morgan Kass has a great shot this season to take down Andrea Balint’s 1999 25 fly team record–20-year-old records don’t fall every day–go get it!
Races to Watch: Boys Fly + Girls Back/Breast/Fly
This age group is very evenly matched as a whole, but lopsided depending on if the girls or boys are swimming. Hamlet has the decided advantage in boys, and Wakefield Chapel gets the nod for girls. Expect to see Hamlet pick up points in bunches, only to have WC cut back into that score by gaining the majority of points in the very next swim! When Ryan Bradshaw or Jillian Ferrari are in the water, you can count on taking home at least 5 points in this one–however, the Wahoo ladies are going to have to work just a bit harder to earn their keep. Eliza Tourbaf will be right there in front for the Green Feet when she is in the water, and Claire Newsom (HSC) and Katherine Crawford (WC) will have a thriller in breast! Second and Thirds seem to be safely decided…but its week one and that means people will be getting after their competition, so pull hard for your team!
Races to Watch: Girls Free/Breast
Advantage: Toss Up
The Wakefield Chapel 13-14s are very strong on both the boys and girls side–led by First Team preseason selection Kathleen Modder, the Wahoos should get their biggest point boost from this group of athletes. They are seeded to score 47 of 72 points between the boys and girls in individual events, but those won’t come easy–some of the best races of the day will come down to the wire to decide 1st place, especially on the girls’ side. Additionally, the Hamlet boys have a great opportunity to play spoiler in a few races and steal 2nd place points by getting a push when challenging the swimmer in lane 4. This will be a major group to feel the momentum shifts throughout the morning, where Hamlet could ride the tides of their younger swimmers work, or Wakefield Chapel could change them altogether.
Races to Watch: Boys Free/Fly + Girls Free/Back/Breast/Fly
Advantage: Wakefield Chapel
Much like the 11-12’s, the seniors will trade blows back and forth within events making it anyone’s guess as to who has a decided edge. Hamlet is led by First Team preseason selection Katie Mack, who will blow away the field in free and fly–on the other hand, Madelyn Donohoe will keep her senior ladies in it with a convincing win in back. The Wahoo boys have a few opportunities to go 1-2 and stack up points their team will need to hold on to. Expect a number of great heats in the boys’ events where a group of swimmers should go to the wall together, making for exciting finishes, as the crowd anxiously awaits the timers to post the result. Like the 13-14’s, the seniors will play a critical role in controlling or swinging the momentum of this meet as each event ends and goes back to the other end to let the munchkins duke it out!
Races to Watch: Boys Free/Back/Fly + Girls Breast
Advantage: Toss Up
Week 1 comes down to simply knowing how to get your team more excited than the other team and race–teams can come out cold and fall short against a worthy opponent–however, both Chapel and Hamlet have strong traditions of spirited meets. That means this one will be decided by harnessing the energy gained from winning big point pickups, like going 1-2 or even grabbing a sweep. Because Hamlet appears to have stronger younger swimmers, the Ninjas are going to side with experience over potential in this one, and predict Hamlet wins 220-200. Wakefield Chapel is a dangerous team in D2, and with another couple of weeks to develop their 10-unders, the Wahoos could put up 4 straight wins after this weekend. The meet will be closer than it feels at times, so enjoy this great week 1 matchup!