MUNSTER | Saturday's Munster girls swimming sectional morphed into a track meet.
The four-time defending champion and host Seahorses had to withstand a serious charge from a talented Lake Central squad and held on for a 480-478 victory, the closest sectional finish since they beat Crown Point by 27.5 points in 2009.
“You don’t see that very often,” Munster coach Matt Pavolich said.
Munster and Lake Central were never separated by more than nine points after any event and were tied at 358 through nine events. Lake Central led by three points after the 100 back, but Munster took a 448-444 lead after the 100 breast.
With just the 400 free relay left, L.C. had to win the event to take home the title. Crown Point, which finished third in the meet, won the event to allow the Seahorses to celebrate their 25th sectional crown overall.
“It was a great team effort all around,” Pavolich said. “Everybody was swimming fast. L.C. had some amazingly good swims. I thought their 100 free was spectacular.
“Our big race was probably the 200 IM with Nikki Smith, but just a great meet with Crown Point and their three relays was just tough. Incredible.”
Winning events for the Seahorses were Smith (200 IM), Mary Beth Blocher (50 free) and Mary Bridget Baeza (100 breast), but they had several top finishes to help get the title.
“Getting top eight in all but one event was really good,” Baeza said.
All three of Munster’s relays also qualified for state.
“We all have been working hard all season, so we knew what our potential was,” said Smith, who also took second in the 100 fly and was a part of two relays. “It’s never easy winning the sectional with two great teams like Lake Central and Crown Point in it.”
Allison Cunningham who qualified for state in all four her events, including the 200 free and 500 free, said everyone swam their best times in the finals when it counted.
“We’re all expected to do better at state, and this was our first step,” she said. “We did really well today.”
Lake Central coach Todd Smolinski was all smiles even though his charges fell just shy of the title. The Indians qualified all three relays for state as well at seven individual swims.
“We’re excited, we’re happy,” he said.
Tracilyn Muszalski (200 free, 500 free) and Holly Spears (100 free) picked up firsts for LC.
“They swam their all today, so we’re pleased,” Smolinski said.