South swimmers split against Hamilton, shine at Holiday invitational.

Calvin Prenkert, Staff Writer/Photographer

South Splits against Hamilton Southeastern

It was a night full of fist pumps for the boys swim team

First, it was senior Max Grogg, who emerged victorious in the 100 free, rising out of the water and pumping his fist as he peered at the scoreboard.

Later, it was senior Luke Lobring who held his hand high, pumping his fist to the cheers of the crowd after finishing off the last leg of the 400 free relay that secured the boys team first place in the event and the win over Hamilton Southeastern, 98-88.

“Our coach came up a couple minutes before and told us (junior Paul Gabhart, junior Seth Glasscock, Grogg, Lobring) that if we won the event we’d probably win the meet,” Lobring said.

This final showdown wasn’t what Panther fans might have expected earlier on during the night, as some narrow losses in the 200 medley relay and the 50 free put the South boys behind early. “We started out losing big time, but we sucked it up and came out on top,” Lobring said.

The tide turned quickly for the Panther boys, due in part to dominant performances from Gabhart and Grogg, who both won every event they swam in. Grogg took the 100 and 200 free, as well as the 200 and 400 relays, and Gabhart took the 200 IM and the 500 free and participated in the same relays.

The Panthers also benefited from wins from senior Creighton King and Glasscock, as well as some second place finishes by Lobring. In the 1 meter dive, senior Elijah Earle garnered second, and freshman Zion Taylor came in fifth.

“We gotta be as positive as we can. We’ve had a rough week of two-a-day practices but we gotta keep the mentality of kicking butt, “ Lobring said.

The girls didn’t experience the same fist pumping that the boys did, but they were still proud of the way they performed in their 98-88 loss.

The girls team began with a strong start and an early lead, but Hamilton’s depth and ability eventually took over. “I think we did really, really well in comparison to last year’s meet against Hamilton,” senior Emily Long said.

The South girls’ strongest swimmers continued racking up wins, with senior Mackenzie Looze (100 breast, 200 free), senior Julia Wolf (50 and 100 free) and junior Phoebe Rensink (100 fly) all taking home first place finishes. Freshman Gillian Boggs also won the 200 IM and got second in the 100 fly, posting season best times in both.

“We had some really great effort tonight, we were present. Some people even had best in season times,” Long added.

Swimmers shine at Holiday Invitational

Less than 24 hours after the Panthers swam against Hamilton Southeastern, they were back in the pool again for their Holiday Invitational. This time they would be swimming without key leader Grogg, due to an unforeseen illness.

Lineups and events were shuffled last minute to give South the best chance they could get without Grogg, and several Panthers were asked to step up in his absence. One of those Panthers was junior Tommy Beggs, who subbed in for Grogg in the 400 free relay and helped the team to a first place finish in the event.

“It was really important to the team to have that win; having (Grogg) gone is obviously a huge loss, but I was glad that I was able to contribute to our success,” Beggs said.

The Boys ended up falling short of a top place finish to Hamilton Southeastern, who they had beaten the night before, 654-548. Despite the loss, the Grogg-less team managed to produce an impressive showing.

South’s Gabhart was specifically impressive, not only winning every event he swam the day prior, but coming back and swimming his way to three wins (200 free, 400 IM, 400 free relay), one second place (50 back) and a single third place finish (200 medley relay). “It’s great that I can do well for us,” Gabhart said. “It’s really nice to get points against some top teams.”

Gabhart was proud of the way the boys performed, especially with the adversity they faced. “Tommy Beggs definitely stepped up today; he did the leadoff leg of our relay, and we were really thankful for that,” Gabhart said.

Earle came in second in the 1-meter dive, falling short to Hamilton Southeastern’s Nathan Barr for the second time in two days, and Taylor came in eighth.

The girls experienced some deja vu, coming in second place and losing to Hamilton Southeastern, 794-596.

South’s Looze was very successful, winning several races (200 back, 200 breast 400 IM, 400 free relay). Other winners included Wolf (100 IM, 400 free relay), Rensink (200 fly), Levy ( 400 free relay) and Boggs (400 free relay), who all helped keep the hold on second place strong. “My main goal is to win for my team and to contribute as much as possible,” Looze said. “But it’s depth that matters in meets like these: being able to not only get first but also second and third.”

It’s that depth and consistency that the girls are still hammering on day in and day out. “Last night we may have lost, but our girls poured their hearts into those races, and I couldn’t be more proud of that,” Looze said.

However, Looze knew the grueling practice and meet schedule was starting to wear on the team, so a mentality change was needed. “(Today) was a bit different, it was simply let’s give everything we have left,” she said

Looze explained that meets at this point in the season serve as tests for the girls. Performing well and getting second in the holiday invitational helped demonstrate what South will be capable of down the road. “Meets like this demonstrate that South is a power to be reckoned with. We will be dominating come conference and sectionals,” Looze said

Both teams will be in action again on Jan. 9 at Bedford North Lawrence, and they will look to improve on what has already been an extremely successful swim season.