The Manhattan High swimming and diving team took to the pool for the final meet before Christmas break, and ended the semester on a high note, winning the five-team meet on Wednesday at the KSU Natatorium.
The Indians won with 372 points, followed by Salina Central with 297 and Salina South with 294. Junction City took fourth with 231 and Hays came in fifth with 158.
Helping contribute to the win was Manhattan victories in six of the 12 events. All in all, the Indians had 18 top-five finishes, including a sweep of the relays.
“It’s exciting, because all of the teams that were here today, those are all pretty solid teams,” Manhattan head coach Jerry Carpenter said. “Junction City is getting better, they’re getting stronger every year. And South and Central are always good, and Hays has some good swimmers.”
The team race stayed close most of the afternoon before Manhattan built up a lead that couldn’t be caught.
“For them to step up and do what they did today, I was really encouraged,” Carpenter said. “They were excited — the team race was fairly close halfway through, so they got excited about stepping up, and several guys really did step up.”
Individually, Cameron Beauregard won both of his events, the 200 individual medley (2:11.23) and the 500 free (5:17.23). Matt Bandy finished his day with a pair of second-place finishes, taking second in the 200 individual medley (2:14.01) and the 100 breast (1:10.09). Ben Spielman finished in second place in both the 50 free (24.72) and the 100 free (54.97). Xavier Henry took second in the 100 fly (1:03.93) and Nick Clark took second in the 200 free (2:14.60).
Other top five finishes included Casey Hoffman in the 100 free (3rd, 58.71), Derrek Williams in the 100 back (5th, 1:08.35) and Hayden in the 100 breast (4th, 1:11.59).
In diving, Evan Olson improved his season-best score from last week, winning with a 211.25, with Nathan Mirts (3rd, 185.30) and Tre Gilmer (5th, 157.75) right behind.
In the relays, the team of Tyler Belin, Bandy, Hoffman and Williams won the 200 medley relay (1:55.79), while the team of Spielman, Hoffman, Hayden and Beauregard won the 200 free relay (1:40.08). The second 200 relay team of Clark, Tyler Brennan, Trey Hafen and Belin finished in fifth (1:51.57).
In the 400 free relay, the team of Bandy, Spielman, Hayden and Beauregard also took first place (3:41.25).
Carpenter said earlier in the season the key to his team will be building up depth to swim alongside some of his top guys, and Wednesday’s meet was a step in the right direction.
Among the top time drops were Clark in the 200 free (-3.13), Mitchell Toetz-Pearsall in the 50 free (-2.77) and six athletes in the 100 free, including Spielman (-2.44), Clark (-3.49), Shaun Messer (-5.70), Paul Wichmann (-2.00), Brennan (-5.75), Rawson Evans (-1.57), and Toetz-Pearsall (-9.77).
In the 100 back, Belin dropped time (-2.99), as well as Mark Buckwalter (-2.51), while in the 100 breast Messer saw marked improvement (-7.39).
“All those negatives that you see — we had a good day,” Carpenter said. “We had some guys try some things today, we filled all the events. Some of them were challenging for some of the guys, but the fact that they were willing to step up and give it a try, I thought was huge. It was some of our brand new guys that were doing it, too.
“It’s exciting. When you see stuff like dropping 10 seconds in a 100 free, that’s exciting.”
The team now heads into practice before Christmas, with plenty of hard work to do before the first meet of 2014 on Jan. 15, with Great Bend, Olathe South and Junction City coming to Manhattan. Carpenter said winning a meet before several weeks of practice and vigorous training is a good thing.
“It’s a good way to head into break,” Carpenter said. “And we’ll have a couple more days of practice, then we’ll have a few days off and we’ll get some real heavy-duty training in over break.”