“Alyssia just got touched out in the 400 free relay, but she swam her best time, and I was most happy that she didn’t buckle under pressure,” Thorne said. “She gutted it out and swam with a lot of heart.”
The result of that race didn’t matter in the overall score of the meet — the No. 3-ranked Panthers won 194-120, despite counting that final relay win as an exhibition and giving the host Bucs the points in that event.
Land said she was actually planning on swimming the third leg of that final relay, but she and fellow Buccaneer senior Karissa Winkler switched spots at the last minute. Winkler gave Land a small lead going into the final 100 yards, but DeShaw quickly closed that gap. She looked poised to win the event handily, but Land caught back up and the two sprinters went into the wall nearly simultaneously.
“I saw her gaining on me and I thought, ‘I couldn’t let her beat me,’” Land said. “I couldn’t feel my body at the end. Even to be close to out-touching a swimmer from West Ottawa is awesome.”
“It was so exciting,” Winkler added. “It felt like we won.”
Winkler swam a personal-best time to win the 500 freestyle on Thursday — the Buccaneers’ only victory of the night.
“That was my best time for the season,” said Winkler, who swam a time of 5 minutes, 55.94 seconds. “That’s five seconds faster than the time I swam on Tuesday. It’s nice because it feels like all our hard work is finally paying off.”
Unfortunately for the Buccaneers, even with vast improvements, wins are hard to come by. That’s because their schedule thus far has featured the No. 3-ranked Panthers, No. 1-ranked (Div. 2) Holland, and No. 2-ranked (Div. 3) East Grand Rapids.
Fellow O-K Red Conference opponents Hudsonville, Rockford and Jenison are all ranked in the top 10 as well.
“The O-K Red is by far the best conference in the state for swimming,” Thorne said. “I’m real leased. These kids are getting better, working hard. It’s tough when you face a team like West Ottawa, who’s going to 1-2-3 us in a lot of events.”
Thorne is especially pleased with the efforts of a trio of freshmen — Bailey Colella, Mackenzie Landman and Stephanie Shantz.
Thorne also credited senior captains Land and Winkler, along with captain Alayna Johnson, a diver, with tremendous efforts for the Bucs.
The Bucs’ Sarah Snider earned a second-place finish in the 50 freestyle with a time of 27.16 seconds. Chole Lalonde was fourth in diving at 156.20 points, then Shantz placed third in the 100 butterfly at 1:08.49.
Land was second in the 100 freestyle with a time of 58.49 seconds. Riley Missel finished third in the 100 backstroke with a time of 1:08.48, then Maggie Ginocchio was third in the 100 breaststroke at 1:20.15.