Our Week 2 Meets of the Week feature teams in the middle divisions of the NVSL, all of which started 2018 with a win. Furthermore, from our perspective, we believe this weekend will be critical in determining the outcome for the divisional crown in D3, D4, D6, and D11. This is because week 2 in the NVSL features the 1 seed vs the 6 seed, the 2 seed vs the 4 seed and the 3 seed vs the 5 seed–while in the upper divisions this can create lopsided matchups, most of the league should have a very competitive contest. This is because the 6 seed should be a team that moved up from a lower division after winning or finishing near the top a season ago, and the 1 seed is the team that dropped out of a higher division into their current tier. This weekend, all of our featured meets, with the exception of Vienna Woods vs Virginia Run, have been forged into existence by this reality. In the process of having two teams come together who were each in different divisions a year ago, we are virtually guaranteed a great meet that will come down to slight advantages in age groups, genders, relays, and intangible factors that will dictate momentum over the course of the morning! With that said, our Ninjas have poured through the data, and have broken down the matchups to identify potentially decisive moments in determining the outcome of each meet; however, bear in mind that the score is 0-0 on Friday and the clocks read 00:00–nothing is official until the swimmers hit the finish!
We arrive at this Division 3 showdown between the High Point Hippos (HPP) and Hunt Valley Stingrays (HV) after both teams pulled out big 50+ point week 1 wins. High Point won Division 5 in 2017, jumping to the third division of the NVSL–Hunt Valley went 1-4 and fell out of D2. Nonetheless, both teams look to be very competitive to win the divisional crown in 2018 due to a wealth of top-tier swimmers, and solid depth in essentially every age group. This meet between the Hippos and Stingrays is as close of a contest on paper as it gets–Hunt Valley is seeded to win by 20 points, but not before trailing through almost the entire meet until we get to the middle of butterfly. Neither team has a decisive advantage in particular age groups or events–there might be a handful of lopsided point pickups with one team landing a sweep or going 1-2 to grab 8 or 9 points, but they will absolutely have to earn those moments over swimmers looking to upset. Without major swings in momentum, and both teams battling back and forth trading who takes 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, and the fact that this meet is a virtual tie on paper, we are left to look at this meet nearly race by race to find potential openings where one team can break through. The meet should remain essentially tied through backstroke before High Point will get a boost through solid team breaststroke, and potentially grab a double-digit lead. However, the Stingrays will come surging back in butterfly to not only equalize but realistically take a slight advantage going into relays. Using relay times from week 1, HV scores 7 relays, though the 15-18 girls race will be a photo finish–therefore, the team who is winning after the individual events should ultimately be the eventual victor. Therefore, a sliding margin shifting even a few points in one direction or the other will absolutely determine this meet, and potentially the D3 champion!
To break this meet down let’s look at the top 11 swims that will determine the winner
*Predictions are based on seed times/available data*
11-12 Boys 50 Free: This meet gets its first great race in the 5th event of the day with Wesley Sturgill (HPP) facing Sam Harris (HV). Both boys swim a 31-mid and are hundredths of a second away from one and other. These are critical 4 points to swing and will also be the first major momentum shift of the morning.
11-12 Girls 50 Free: The fallout from the boy’s race will spill into the girl’s heat, where Sienna Schmeck (HV) is seeded a few tenths off Kate Sharrer (HPP). Though a battle for 2nd place, the result will swing 4 points one way or the other. This is especially important for the Stingrays to nab if Lexi Ries of High Point runs away with 1st as she is seeded.
15-18 Girls 50 Free: This race features a battle for 1st and 3rd–Ainsley Flatin will need to dip under the 29.0 mark to beat Reagan Osborne (HV), but cannot slide back because Mac Brotherton will be chasing after her in lane 2. On the other side of the pool, Molly Anderson will need to pace off of Osborne to beat out Brotherton and pick up a major 3rd place point for the Hippos; however, she cannot lose sight of Jenny Li on her outside in lane 6. Li and Brotherton, as well as Anderson, posted 30-mids so they will come to the wall together undoubtedly. Hypothetically, any of these five ladies could take places 1-5, making this a good old fashion crap-shoot. These are the races coaches love because it shows you how well you prepared your team to compete on Saturday by not overlooking the technical components to a sprint such as a turn or finish–when tenths and hundredths are the difference, those details stand out!
11-12 Girls 50 Back: The Hippos should safely take 1st in this race behind Clara Moschella, however, they must hold onto 2nd place–the front end of this meet will probably be where one team or the other makes their move. Annalise Coyne (HV) and Lexi Ries have a half second difference in their times. In a big meet like this, both athletes are essentially running at even money.
15-18 Boys 50 Back: Lachlan Flatin and TJ Roche of High Point and Andrew Verdin from the Stingrays will all go to the wall together in this thrilling contest. With the older kids who are training much more frequently, you can look forward to strong underwaters, high turnover rate, and three arms throwing for the wall at the same time. Hunt Valley would love to steal a 1st place away from the Hippos before breaststroke where they will concede points to the home team, so expect the graduating senior Verdin to lay it on the line for his team.
15-18 Girls 50 Back: Anderson (HPP) will faceoff against Osborne and Brotherton again in Event 20, where 8 tenths of a second separate 1st to 3rd. Same as with the boy’s race, the HV girls would love to make this a 1-2 finish and take some momentum away from the Hippos before going into the back half of the meet if they can.
8-Under Girls 25 Breast: Ok, munchkins swimming breast at the beginning of the season is almost like trying to capture a photo of a lightning bolt. This stroke is difficult for little ones to swim legal, much less go fast in making it rare to find a young swimmer who can do both. Both teams have swimmers inside that are on 26 seconds and will contest for 1st place. Furthermore, They both have swimmers outside in lanes 2 and 5 who are within a few tenths of each other that will compete for 3rd. There is no guessing who will do what, but High Point needs to score two of these swimmers. Breaststroke is critical for them to run up their tally in an attempt to put them on the positive side of the point differential–getting solid points early in the event will go a very long way.
15-18 Boys 50 Breast: Flatin and Verdin will meet again, each seeded only a few tenths off each other and vying for a major 1st place. You know the pool will be screaming “go” at each breath as the sidelines try to will their swimmer on to a big win!
15-18 Girls Breast: A theme is developing here with these senior swimmers having crucial swims, but if your team had to rely on someone, wouldn’t you want it to be your leaders? Marie Roche should easily take first place for the Hippos, but the race will be on for 2nd place. Four-tenths of a second is the seeded distance between Ainsley Flatin (HPP) and her rivals Jenny Li and Maria McGovern (HV). High Point will now be in the position of needing to grab what points they can to bolster themselves before butterfly kicks in.
9-10 Girls 25 Fly: The race for 2nd place between Kierra Braunberg (HPP) and Audrey Stevens (HV) may be the most important 4 points of the meet for the Hippos. Though seeded half a second behind, Braunberg could give her team a major lift by scoring unexpected points before Hunt Valley goes on a tear over the next 6 races. Cutting the Stingrays total points won in this race may inspire some of her teammates to step up and do something special. The name of the game is being on the right side of 180 points, so don’t underestimate how important this swim might be.
15-18 Girls 200 Medley Relay: The senior girls will have narrow races all morning, and it will culminate with the only truly close swim in the final portion of the meet. As previously stated Hunt Valley should win 6 of 12 relays and High Point can expect 5, so this final showdown between the big girls from both pools will likely decide the outcome! Their week 1 times are separated by only 12 hundredths of a second, so this is anyone’s race, and therefore anyone’s meet!
We can hardly predict which way some of these races will go, much less who will actually win. However, if we have to pick a team, we like the fact that High Point has a lot of opportunities to improve their margin early in the meet. Hunt Valley’s late push in fly will be agonizing to live through if you are a Hippo, but by taking care of business early on, High Point could win the ever important x-factor: Some good ol’ fashioned Uncle Mo. Having momentum in a meet like this brings the best out of kids and can lead to unbelievable performances in the pool. Final prediction, High Point wins at home 220-200. Hunt Valley is a phenomenal team, and it hurts to not pick them, but only time will tell which team is better prepared across the board to go out and race the kid in the lane next to them!
Good luck Hippos and Stingrays!
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