GAMBIER — Mount Vernon’s Ian Richardson placed first in the 100-yard freestyle (51.33 seconds) while teammate Scott Nielson swam to a first-place finish (1:09.78) in the 100 breaststroke. Those were among the few bright spots as the Olentangy Liberty Patriots torpedoed past the Yellow Jackets by a combined score of, 377-193. The Jackets boys lost, 165-119, while Mount Vernon’s girls fell to the Patriots, 212-74.
Richardson, who has performed well all year for the Yellow Jackets, has become Mr. Reliable.
“Ian, you can always count on to do well,” said Mount Vernon coach Jeff Gottke. “He knows what he wants as a swimmer and he’ll go and get it. You can always count on him to swim well.”
Despite the disappointing scores, the Jackets accomplished plenty Friday night.
“The meets over the Christmas break are about racing,” said Gottke. “It’s not so much about best times. If they get a best time, that’s great, but I wanted them to see somebody close to them, try to go after them and try to beat them I saw that. Also, as they came to talk to me afterwards, they were saying, ‘Hey, I saw that kid out of the corner of my eye and I went after him or her.’ They may not always have won but, at least they are aware of what’s going on in the pool and what’s around them. They are getting out of that individual trying to get their best time mindset.”
Nielson had a good night, and he also provided some leadership as well.
“That was good,” said Gottke. “I think Scott just missed his best time. He and (freshman) Johnson (Cochran) have been back and forth all season, so I always like to see them race each other. It’s competitive but, at the same time, Scott has been teaching Johnson, so he’s kind of been his mentor.”
Nielson also placed third (24.82) in the 50-yard freestyle, while teammate Anthony DePascuale was impressive, finishing fourth (26.02).
“Anthony had a good 50,” said Gottke. “I think it was his best time. Anytime you can do best times over Christmas break, when you are tired, that’s good.”
Several other racers put on a good show, among them, Jess Zeller, who had an impressive second-place finish in the 100 breaststroke.
“We needed another breaststroker in there so we stuck her in there,” said Gottke. “She’s really stepped up for us. She’s got that competitive edge where, when she sees someone, she will try to beat them.”
Jeremy West hung on tenaciously for the Jackets in the final laps to take second in the 500-yard freestyle.
“Jeremy never swam that before,” said Gottke. “That was a really good swim for Jeremy and it showed me a lot about him as a swimmer. Again he was aware of what was around him and stay with them.”
Freshman Gavin Rundell, who was second in the 200 freestyle, had to overcome practice fatigue.
“It was pretty good,” said Rundell. “We came out here and we had a hard week of practice. I thought that we we’re going to win this, but our hard week of training slowed us down a little bit. Last week, we practice five hours on Tuesday and most of us were tired. This week, we practiced five hours and a couple of hours of dry lands (push-ups, sit-ups, crunches, running and muscle toning.) Everybody is exhausted, but a lot of people have gotten their best times.”
Senior Ty Gregg, who also runs cross country, agreed with Rundell.
“It has been a very exhausting Christmas break,” said Gregg. “We have been practicing for three hours at a time in the pool. After that, we get out, go to the high school and do some more push-ups and running. We have also been going to the YMCA, after that, swimming all sorts of sprint work after that. It’s been very, very rough. I am looking forward to the tapering, that is going to come in two to three weeks and I am looking forward to dropping time in my races, also.”
As discouraging as it is to lose, Gottke knows that he must keep his team focused on the end of the season.
“Nobody likes to get beat, but it’s more than wins and losses,” said Gottke. “It really gets important to us in the Conference, Sectional and District meets. That’s when we want to be at our best. These meets, now, are competitive and they give us that practice that we need for later. Now is as much about winning as it is about development, so I would almost prefer that we progress rather than win.”