NORMAL — The Normal West High School swim team didn’t win the most events, but did score the most points in Tuesday’s Intercity Meet at Horton Pool.
The Wildcats, second a year ago, won two of the 12 events en route to 549 points while host University High took second (458) ahead of defending champion Normal Community (442). Bloomington was fourth (359) followed by Central Catholic (344).
West, which last won in 2015, trailed NCHS after four events, but took the lead for good after going 1-2-4 in diving.
“We’ve got a lot of depth on the team this year,” said Wildcat coach Becky Braman. “You don’t always get first, but the points add up when you get second through sixth. We don’t always have that powerhouse, but we have a lot that can score high.”
The meet’s double winners were U High’s Andy Ritsema in the 200-yard freestyle and 100 backstroke and Bloomington’s Robby Pratt in the 100 butterfly and 100 breaststroke.
In a 200 free thriller, Ritsema’s 1:47.59 edged the 1:47.73 by NCHS freshman Tyson Tucci. Central Catholic junior Lucas Williamson was third in a school record 1:47.94.
Ritsema, a two-time Intercity champion in the 100 butterfly, skipped that event, but defended his backstroke title in 54.93. His backstroke personal best of 52.04 ranks seventh in Pantagraph area history.
“I need to continue to work hard in practice,” he said, “but for the most part I feel pretty good about (my times).”
Tucci prevailed in the 500 freestyle (4:49.98), but was well off his season best of 4:46.80, which ranks ninth in the state. He also helped the winning 200 medley relay (1:41.96) and 200 freestyle relay (1:32.10). Both relays included Ethan Lowder, Christian Travis and Shannon Pinto.
In the medley relay, NCHS sliced two hundredths of a second from its Pantagraph area-leading season best as Tucci rallied the Ironmen past U High (1:42.10).
NCHS, a winner of four events, saw Lowder capture the 50 freestyle (22.46) by six hundredths over West’s Tyler Ahrens.
Pratt clocked an area-pacing 52.62 in the butterfly, well under his previous season best of 53.51. He also motored a season best of 1:00.20 to win the breaststroke.
“I’m really happy with my times just because we are so close to sectionals,” Pratt said. “Getting near the state cuts is really important. This is always my favorite meet. I get to swim against a bunch of guys I’ve been swimming with for a long time.”
Winning for Normal West were its 400 freestyle relay and diver Tyler Schupbach (188.80). The relay sped an area-leading 3:21.60 thanks to Jackson Ahrens, Tyler Ahrens, Connor Eicher and Ben Rutledge. Schupbach combined with runner-up Zach Poehlman (177.20) and fourth-placer Jeremiah Alomoto (153.25) to give the Wildcats 52 points.
“It’s always neck and neck with us,” said Schupbach of his battles with Poehlman.
Rounding out the individual event winners were U High’s Camden Swigart in the 200 individual medley (1:59.94) and Central’s Williamson in the 100 freestyle (48.89). Williamson’s school record was the area’s best time this season while Swigart’s ranks second.
Williamson also led off his school-record setting 200 freestyle relay which took third in 1:36.98 with a school record 50 of 22.54.