Wk 2 Meet of the Week Preview: Vienna Woods @ Virginia Run
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!
Virginia Run (VR) and Vienna Woods (VW) are both hold-overs in Division 4 from 2017–The VR Riptide and The Woods, as they are known colloquially, both finished 2-3; however, VR entered 2018 as the 3 seed due to a tie-breaker settled by total points scored at dual meets, Divisional Relay Carnival, and All-Star Relays. With Vienna Woods traveling to Virginia Run, they will face their first true test of the season–the Riptide have a few very strong age groups, and sport four preseason All-Swim Ninja selections, in 8-Ub Nicholas Harris, 9-10g Charis Roundtree, 15-18g Sarah Boyle (15-18b Leo Wang is not entered in the meet). Vienna Woods comparatively has more developed depth across the board although it is early in the season so it would not be surprising to see the Riptide swimmers in lanes 1 and 5 drop time and challenge the swimmers around them. On paper, The Woods appears to have a comfortable 60 point cushion over the Riptide, making it urgent for those outside swimmers to show up excited and help chip into that margin bit by bit. As stated in previous meet previews, summer league swimming is often regulated by momentum shifts and a team’s ability to ride the wave or change the tide before letting the meet get away from them. The 60 points on paper is a soft number because that margin will grow or shrink depending on how each side responds after major point pickups by the other team that is sure to happen. To examine this possibility, we will need to follow this meet chronologically.
Let’s break this meet down by event!
*Predictions are based on seed times/available data*
Vienna Woods did not hold back from putting their talent in the first events of the day in order to jump out to an early lead. On paper, The Woods looks to take nearly a 2-1 proportion of the 90 points total in free. The Riptide have reliable points behind Charis Roundtree in 9-10 girls, who is right on the team record time of 32.62, and Sarah Boyle in the 15-18 girls. Furthermore, the first swim of the day will be a nailbiter between three 8 y/o boys Ethan O’Connor (VR) and Kai Molter (VW) and Ryan Garcia (VR) who should all swim neck and neck across the pool and go to the wall together. However, The Woods have the ability to sweep all 9 points in 3 of the 10 races in the first event in the 8-under girls, 9-10 boys, and 11-12 girls. Even if this happens, the Riptide can slow the momentum, and possibly swing it back to their side of the pool behind William Whitton in the 11-12 boys race, where he and Griffin Osterhout will have their hands full trying to take down Daniel Lauretti in lane 4. Don’t get too locked in on the inside lanes in some of these races–taking point by point away from VW will be the name of the game for the Riptide, and they have great opportunities to challenge for second and third place in both the 13-14 girls and 15-18 boys contests. The senior boys will be closer than it appears, and we will find out who has been putting the work in on turns and finishes with tenths of a second separating 2nd-5th. Coming out of freestyle, Vienna Woods should have solid momentum and they will pick up the majority of the first place points however this meet will be far from over if the Virginia Run can grab 5-10 points unexpectedly.
Best Races: 8-U Boys, 11-12 Boys, 13-14 Boys, 15-18 Boys
Advantage: Vienna Woods
The second event is much more evenly matched up between the two teams, and, if the seed times hold, Virginia Run could find themselves winning at one point. Nicholas Harris was dominant in week 1 for the Riptide 8-under boys and looks to be untouchable this week, which will help to get things started. Charis Roundtree will swim her second race of the day a few events later and also post a dominant victory from lane 3. Then, in the next swim, the 11-12 boys have an opportunity to sweep Vienna Woods, so watch Charles Beamon down in lane 1 try to edge out Clayton Turner in lane 4 for a critical 1 point pick-up! The 15-18 girls will close the event on a high note for the Riptide behind Sarah Boyle, Didi Pace, and Chelsea Nguyen as they look to take all 9 points together. However, Vienna Woods still packs a punch in back–the 9-10 boys appear to be a mismatch where The Woods will thrive comfortably, and the 11-12 girls will put the pressure on, going 1-2 and hope for 3rd if Elise McClorey can get to the wall before Neha Srinivasan in lane 3. 8-unders are unpredictable early in the season, but the little girls from Vienna should score some big points for their side to counter Nicholas Harris’ dominant swim the race before. Also, the 13-14 girls appear safe for The Woods, and may even be the right moment for Sophia Brown to break a 20-year-old team record that is set at 31.57! The biggest shift in the meet could hinge on the outcome of the 15-18 boys race that could end in a sweep for VW or give the Riptide a jolt of energy behind unexpected points–keep an eye across the pool again here!
Best Races: 15-18 Boys
Advantage: Lean Vienna Woods
As the meet turns towards the back half of the individual events, things should still be relatively close, and thus anyone’s meet–however, Virginia Run appears to lack the personnel to keep up with VW, and this should be where The Woods push forward and not look back. Virginia Run will have convincing swims from their 8-under boys and 9-10 boys and girls–Allie Hickie won’t be challenged too much in the senior girls’ race later on. Outside of those four swims, Vienna Woods starts to pile it on–the 8-under girls, 11-12 girls, and 13-14 boys should score at least 8 points to the Riptide 1. 13-14 girl Natalie Lauer will win by a body length, as will Miles Stux and Anabel Huffstutler in the 11-12 races– Cru Molter (VW) will give Kevin O’Connor (VR) everything he can handle in 9-10 boys, creating a fun race to watch, regardless of outcome. As has been the theme though, the 15-18 boys will get everyone on their feet. Less than a second separates the top two entries both teams have to offer as they vie to get the better end of 9 points towards the end of this event. Though Vienna Woods is seeded much better in this event, there are too many possibilities for the Riptide to keep the door open and sneak back in, so VW will need to remain motivated to win the races they are supposed to get.
Best Races: 8-Under Boys, 9-10 Boys, 9-10 Girls, 15-18 Boys
Advantage: Vienna Woods
The final 10 individual races might be all Vienna Woods needs to put this meet away and reach the 210.5 mark, but Virginia Run doesn’t appear to make it easy on them by any means. Nicholas Harris broke the VR pool record a week ago for 8-under boys and will cruise to victory to get things started, with his younger brother Tyler (6 y/o) possibly getting to the wall in time to score a point for the home team. After this, Vienna Woods should lay down three straight dominant first-place swims as Virginia Run chases to avoid the sweep and concede 27 unanswered points at a moment when they cannot afford to fall that far behind. However, the 11-12 boys, 13-14 girls, and 15-18 boys races are all toss-ups–less than half a second separates the top swimmers in the 11-12 boys contest, while a few tenths are all the wiggle room the older kids will have. This event is truly for the fans–just when you thought this meet might be over, the fly races will be the most consistently close swims of the morning and give you a good reason to hold your seat and not wander off.
Best Races: 11-12 Boys, 13-14 Girls, 15-18 Boys
Advantage: Vienna Woods
Vienna Woods looks to be safe in the 7 relays they are expected to win, giving them a 35 point cushion to work with even if they slip a little throughout the meet. While Virginia Run has enormous upside, they appear to be outmatched in their still-developing age groups and uncomfortably close in their sweet spots. Not having Leo Wang’s probable 10 points in the razor-thin 15-18 age group stings, but ultimately, the Riptide have stronger headwinds to vanquish, including numerous events where they could cede 8 or 9 points to The Woods, allowing the visiting team to take large strides towards the golden number of 210.5. Vienna Woods has to show up and swim their meet with determination–at this level of competition, the last thing you want to do is leave the scent of blood in the water for a hungry team at the beginning of the season. If Virginia Run can piece together a few nice point pickups early on and consistently cut into Vienna Woods’ expected total than they are in this ballgame.
Ultimately, we predict Vienna Woods running away with this meet, winning 250-170, as they create distance between them and their competition early on, and continue to scoop up points by the handful throughout the morning. Either way, this will be an absolute pleasure for spectators, and one worth going back and watching once the race vids go up after the meet!
Good luck Virginia Run and Vienna Woods!
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