SL cruises at home invite

Duncan MacLean • Jan 9, 2017 at 12:12 AM

SPRING LAKE — Even when departing from their proven successful lineup, the Lakers just can’t seem to lose this season.

The Spring Lake swim and dive team extended their record to 5-1 on the year, winning their home invitational by 29 points this past Saturday.

The Lakers’ 506-point effort bested second-place Northview, who finished with 477 points, ahead of third-place Manistee with 384, Ludington with 363, Muskegon Mona Shores at 87 and Fremont, who brought up the rear, with 64 points.

Lineup shuffling showed the Lakers to victory on Saturday, with swimmers getting tested in atypical events and disciplines.

Photos from Saturday’s meet

The Lakers performed admirably outside of their comfort zones. The changes proved Spring Lake is as versatile as they are speedy, and that their talent runs deep.

“I’m a little nervous,” Peel said prior to the meet. “We’ve got guys moved around today. I hope it works out.”

The worry was proved needless with the first individual event. Drew Fogel, the teams’ top individual medley swimmer, tried his hand at the 200-yard freestyle.

Fogel took the event with a far-and-away state-qualifying time of 1 minute 52. 68 seconds, showing this crew of Lakers was ready to throw down; no matter what events they were entered in.

“That is the cool thing about these guys, we are swimming around. I ask them to do something weird or uncomfortable and they are like ‘sure, let’s do it,” coach Peel said of the lineup changes.

“It’s nice every once in a while to mix things up,” Fogel said. “This is something I kind of wanted to do and I got a best time out of it.”

The wins kept coming for Spring Lake, who took all but two events at the meet.

Fogel’s vacated 200 I.M. top-spot was filled by the Laker’s typical top-sprinter, Cam Peel, who took first-place honors after the four-stroke medley had concluded. He won the event in 2:04.02, followed by teammate Will Brown, who took third in 2:14.53.

Peel’s absence in the 50 freestyle gave a few other sprinters a chance to shine in the splash-and-dash. Joey Wachter, Charlie Slajus and Eric Shock covered brilliantly, taking 1,2,3 in 22.56, 23.28 and 23.66, respectively.

The divers took to the boards for an early taste of a full 11-dive lineup. The 11-dive format is used at the conference and state championship meets, rather than the duel-meet six-dive list.

All three Spring Lake divers made it through the cut-rounds into finals, completing all 11 of their dives. Noah Locascio finished fifth overall, ahead of Gavin DeVries in seventh and Johnny Meulenbelt at ninth.

Back between the lane lines, Kevin Losee took the next Spring Lake gold in the 100 butterfly, with a blazing-fast 53.32. Losee was followed again by Brown, who finished in 1:02.02 for second place. Sam Walters took seventh in 1:03.82.

The sprinters cleaned up once again in the 100 freestyle, with Joey Wachter taking top honors. He cruised to a first-place, 49.27 finish. Just behind Wachter was Slajus, who grabbed his first state-cut of the season while taking second place in 50.50 seconds.

“I was surprised,” Slajus said. “I dropped over a second since last Tuesday. It feels good. I’m glad I got it (state-cut) out of the way this early.”

Cam Peel, robbed of his sprinting supremacy, took on the granddaddy of them all, the 500 freestyle. At 10 times the distance of his event of choice, he was apprehensive.

After 5:11.99 in the pool, Peel came out on top with a state-qualifying time. Eric Schock followed him in the top-heat, taking fourth in 5:28.34.

Down the stretch, the Lakers continued to dominate. The team of Gerret Henning, Brown, Slajus and Losee grabbed gold in the 200 freestyle relay, Fogel returned for a win in the 100 backstroke, and Losee just missed another win in the 100 breaststroke, taking second by just 0.08.

The 400 freestyle relay concluded the meet with Peel, Fogel, Schock and Wachter taking the cake.

The sustained success, even in alternative events, is not lost on the Spring Lake athletes. Fogel credits the resiliency of his team for their dominate performance so far this season.

“It shows that our team is dedicated. We got guys that started off kind of so so, and we have all gotten to the point where most of us are doing the same type of sets in practice. It is cool to see how we have grown, and how far we can still improve.”

The Lakers will look to continue building their success and their ever-growing list of state-cuts through the remaining 10 weeks of their season. They return to the pool for a bought with Forest Hills Central on Tuesday.

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