By RICHIE HALL
Reporter Sports Editor
Hamilton Heights is now five meets into its swim season, and the Huskies girls have won them all.
Heights improved its record to 5-0 with a big win over rival Tipton, 134.5-51.5, Thursday at the Huskies’ pool. With that victory, Heights continued its strong start to the 2017-18 season, and it’s not too difficult to figure out the reason why the Huskies are doing so well.
“We’re super deep,” said Heights coach Sue Beale. “We have our returning seniors, our strong juniors. But we got nine freshmen this year that are filling in for the third-place spots.”
The Huskies scored 1-2-3 sweeps in the 200 and 50 freestyles, along with the diving event. That alone helps Heights to accumulate points quickly.
“We’re taking one, two and three in a lot of meets,” said Beale.
The Huskies also did something Thursday they had never done before: Win every single event. Heights went 12-for-12, including double wins from sophomore Ryleigh Poe (butterfly and 500 free), junior Rachel Sanqunetti (50 free and backstroke) and freshman Emily Lester (individual medley and breaststroke).
Other first-place finishers were freshman Tara Holder in the 200 free, senior Claire Sloderbeck in the 100 free and senior Jordyn Feiwell in diving. The Huskies got relay wins from Holder, Lester, Sloderbeck and Sanqunetti in the medley relay, senior Allison Osborne, senior Lucy Uhrick, freshman Kat Cox and senior Madi Hasler in the 200 free relay, and Sloderbeck, Poe, Holder and Sanqunetti in the 400 free relay.
While experienced swimmers like the seniors and the junior Sanqunetti are leading the way, the freshmen are also making an impact.
“I told all the freshmen, ‘You couldn’t have picked a better year to start,'” said Beale. “Because of the talent on this team and the energy that they bring. The freshman girls work really hard at practice. They’re trying to keep up with their peers and they’ve been showing just phenomenal improvements.”
Beale said that the hype of Heights winning last year’s Hoosier Conference meet has kept the team’s level of excitement up. With so much experience and talent, the Huskies have the potential to repeat as conference champions. The enthusiasm levels are high as well.
“I think this is the best year we’ve had for the chemistry with the kids,” said Beale. “A lot of them have grown up together and been in other sports together, or swimming together for a long time. And they have a great chemistry.”
The boys, meanwhile, are doing well despite having low numbers on the team. It helps that they have a very good swimmer, junior Jared Holder, on the team.
Holder missed a few meets at the beginning of the season, but he was back in full force Thursday, winning the 200 free and the backstroke.
“Jared is just coming off having his appendix taking out, and is still swimming faster than ever,” said Beale. “He’s in great shape. We expect a lot from him.”
Holder made history for Heights when he qualified for the state meet in two events last year, the 50 free and the backstroke.
“He did that last year and we’re planning on doing that again,” said Beale. “It was a good thing that the appendix happened early in the season rather than later.”
Because of its low numbers, Heights doesn’t get the points it needs to challenge its opponents in dual meets. The Huskies fell to Tipton 120-54 on Thursday. But Heights is doing the best it can.
In fact, the Huskies had several good performances on Thursday. Tony Hardin placed second in the 50 and 100 freestyles, and joined Joe Ringer, Logan Fakes and Holder to win the 400 free relay. Ringer also added to the team points by taking third in the 500 free and fifth in the backstroke. Josh Glover helped out with a third-place breaststroke finish, a fourth in the 100 free, and a second place finish in the medley relay with Holder, Fakes and Hardin – a senior who just learned to swim last year.
“We got two new swimmers this year that didn’t ever swim before,” said Beale. “They’re coming along and they’re taking third places in events. And then we have our returning swimmers, Josh (Glover) and Logan Fakes, our senior, who is always good for wins. Even though they’re small, if you take into account how many wins we get in a meet, or second places we get in a meet, we’re a pretty tough team. We just don’t have enough numbers.”
Despite this, Beale believes her Huskies can be competitive in the conference meet. “The neat thing about that meet is, it matters more how you place rather than numbers,” said the coach.
Heights will be back in action Saturday at the Noblesville Diving Invitational.