JIM HUNSLEY: State swim polls bring authenticity to rankings

2012-12-12T18:30:00Z JIM HUNSLEY: State swim polls bring authenticity to rankingsJim Hunsley Times Columnist nwitimes.com
December 12, 2012 6:30 pm  • 

Debates about sports rankings can bring some of the most volatile discussions. College football's Bowl Championship Series has normally been a hot-button topic for fans. At the local level, I've received my fair share of questions about the prep polls I help produce.

That's why I truly respect the polls that the Indiana High School Swimming Coaches Association churns out.

Mount Vernon (Posey) coach Larry Zoller started the boys poll in 1990 and took over the girls poll in 1997. The National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association's Power Poll, which is designed to measure team depth, was the original tool used to rank teams in Indiana. I'm glad to see the state changed to this system.

The rankings aren't based on dual meets or invitational titles. They are based on times, either from last season's state finals or the top performances this season, and those results reflect those that would place in the top 16 at the state meet.

While there's some question whether Notre Dame deserves to play Alabama for the BCS title, Chesterton's boys swimming team has earned its top spot in the rankings. At this point, Chesterton leads No. 2 Northridge 237-162. The point total would be even higher, but Blake Pieroni -- who is in the top three in three events -- is only scored for the 100 and 200 -- which he swam at last year's state meet. The poll is realistic, since no swimmer can compete in five events and the Trojans junior will most certainly compete in two individual races and two relays.

Chesterton's boys have the top times in all three relays. Junior Aaron Whitaker was a part of all three times, but I expect him to swim in two individual events at state. Still, it might not be a double-digit variance.

Chesterton's girls team is an example of this different type of poll. They sit at No. 8, while Crown Point -- which lost to Chesterton in a dual meet recently -- is at No. 3. Chesterton won the head to head, but remember this poll is based on possible performances at the state meet. The Trojans won the dual based on their depth, but Bulldog Aly Tetzloff's true strength will come out at the state finals.

I put together polls each week, and I kind of wish I could base my poll on these factors. My weekly polls deal more with head-to-head meetings, which can get a little dicey. On more than one occasion, wins and losses have intertwined between a group of schools. That issue makes it much harder to place them in any type of order.

By no means are Chesterton's boys a lock to win the boys state title. They were at No. 1 last season, but by a much-smaller margin. At this point, their performances at last year's state meet and the early part of this season prove they should be at the top.

Isn't that what we ask polls to predict?


This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at jim.hunsley@nwi.com.

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