North’s small army marches to wins in BNL’s home opener

BNL’s Garrett Gabhart powers through the water during the backstroke leg of the 200-yard medley relay.

By Justin Sokeland

BEDFORD – According to the clock on the wall, the meet lasted way too long. Blame that on the small army that marched off the Bloomington North bus for Bedford North Lawrence’s home opener. The Cougars brought enough swimmers to fill a public beach on a holiday.

According to the clock on the wall, the one that posted the results of each race, the Stars have time to improve. Between the rampant illnesses currently sweeping through the area, and the calendar that reads ‘December’ in bold letters, there are reasons for slower times. BNL is a work in progress.

The Stars, worried about technique and form rather than results at this point, were swept by the Cougars on Thursday night. North recorded a 111-75 win in the boys meet, and a 116-62 victory in the girls meet, and that was not unexpected. In addition to the overwhelming numbers, North has talent.

Yet there were points of light that broke through during the 3 1/2-hour marathon meet. BNL won four individual events and a relay on the boys side, while Emma Gabhart splashed to her customary position during the girls meet.

BNL’s Cole Baker cuts through the water while winning the 100 freestyle race.

“Winning now means absolutely zero,” BNL coach Adam Young said. “We faced state-level swimmers, and it’s a good gauge. You’d like to win dual meets, but it’s not critical. When you are up against North, and realistically you’re not going to win the meet, you’re looking to see if the things we’re working on in practice happen in the races.”

In the boys meet, BNL recorded wins by Trey Kimbley (1:58.04 in the 200-yard freestyle), Isaiah Eicle (2:14.66 in the 200 individual medley), Cole Baker (49.68 in the 100 free) and Garrett Gabhart (who has the coolest nickname – ‘The Ghost’ – on the squad and touched first in the 100 backstroke in 59.78).

Baker was among the sickly of late, and the flu bug took a bite out of his training.

“The progress leading up to this has been kind of bad,” he said. “I was hoping to work on some form, some technique, and get some decent times. Being sick, it makes it hard to breathe, it really sets you back. It’s rough. It’s very frustrating.”

BNL’s Emma Gabhart won the 100 breaststroke race.

Young pointed to Eicle as the most notable contributor of the night. He was also a member of the victorious 400 relay squad (teaming with Gabhart, Kimbley and Baker to finish in 3:30.43).

“Sometimes you hit plateaus, but he’s starting to break through,” Young said. “That’s really exciting. We’ll need him. We’re trying to figure out our best lineup. There’s competition for spots, we’re sorting that out, and it’s an experience thing. We won’t wait to turn the dial up.”

In the girls meet, Gabhart was listed as a double winner (although North’s Ashley Freel clocked a faster time in the 100 butterfly). She indeed won the 100 breaststroke (1:10.46) and helped the Stars claim the 400 relay (with Shelby Slaughter, Cookie King and Ava Lipp) in 4:14.55. However, the actual second-place finish in the butterfly irked her. She doesn’t like losing.

“I need to work on my acceptance that it’s OK to lose right now,” she said. “But I don’t want to think that. Right now it’s a lot of technique work. I’m fine with not going my best times right now. It’s a work in progress.”

Double winners for North included Sara Buehler (2:16.26 in the girls 200 free and 1:02.21 in the 100 free) and Jay Stewart (21.62 in the boys 50 free and 1:00.34 in the 100 breaststroke).

BNL will return to action at Martinsville on Tuesday.

BNL’s Trey Kimbley cruised to a victory in the 200 freestyle race.