Every time a team in the City League goes up against the East swimming team, it’s usually its best effort of the season.
Every team has been chasing the seven-time reigning City League champions and for the first time since 2009, a team’s best effort was good enough to knock off East.
Consider Heights on a roll, of sorts. After winning the Class 5A championship last winter, the Falcons have now positioned themselves as the front runners in the City League halfway through the season with their 94-91 victory over East at South’s pool on Thursday.
Heights also defeated South 126-59, while East beat South 133-53.
“Going against East, this is the meet of the year for us,” Heights senior Dylan Jensen said. “This is big time, really big time. We knew we could do it, we just had to come out and put out some good times and we did. We just need to keep it up.”
Heights coach Dale Heckman figured a win over East would come as a result of its advantage in diving. But when a diver dropped out this week, Heckman had to reconfigure his lineup.
Everything came together on Thursday, as Heights elevated its performance to beat East on a day where the Blue Aces were swimming “season-best and lifetime-best times,” according to East coach Joe Hutchinson.
“(Heights) swam very, very well,” Hutchinson said. “You look at the seed times they had and the times they went in the finals and they dropped some very good times. That’s what competition is all about. It’s going to bring out the best in you.”
Dawson Gantenbein (200-yard freestyle, 100-yard butterfly), Aidan Gantenbein (200-yard IM, 500-yard freestyle) and Jensen (50-yard free, 100-yard free) were all crucial for the Falcons with two individual victories apiece. The 200-yard free relay and 400-yard free relay teams also brought home victories.
To Heckman, though, the biggest swing came in the victories by Aidan Gantenbein, a freshman.
“I really feel that I bring my ‘A game’ to the big meets like this,” Gantenbein said. “With all the competition and the great swimmers here, I really felt like I had to step it up tonight and I did.”
Hutchinson was sure to give Heights credit for an impressive performance, but stressed to his team that it was only a regular-season dual. Important meets are still upcoming, but Thursday’s result certainly sent a message.
“We knew this was going to be a challenging meet, so it’s not really a surprise to anybody,” Hutchinson said. “I think what this will do is give a little more importance on that City League meet since that will be the first opportunity to see if we can beat (Heights) again.”
Heights 126, South 59
East 133, South 53
Heights 94, East 91
200-yard medley relay—1. East (Hutchinson, Quah, Randle, McPherson), 1:42.64; 2. Heights 1:42.80; 3. South, 1:53.34. 200 free—1. D. Gantenbein, Heights, 1:50.26; 2. Hutton, East, 1:53.87; 3. Clayton, East, 1:58.35. 200 IM—1. A. Gantenbein, Heights, 2:07.44; Quah, East, 2:08.06; 3. Randle, East, 2:08.68. 50 free—1. Jensen, Heights, 22.45; 2. Gough, South, 23.14; 3. McPherson, East. Diving—1. Miller, South, 192.00; 2. Campos, South, 171.55; 3. Steinke, Heights, 159.60. 100 butterfly—1. D. Gantenbein, Heights, 57.24; 2. Hwang, East, 58.85; 3. Conrady, Heights, 59.04. 100 free—1. Jensen, Heights, 50.10; 2. McPherson, East, 50.60; 3. Hutton, East, 51.37. 500 free—1. A. Gantenbein, Heights, 5:16.67; 2. Clayton, East, 5:20.14; 3. Hall, Heights, 5:29.18. 200 free relay—1. Heights (Jensen, D. Gantenbein, Alderson, Conrady), 1:31.77; 2. East 1:36.17; 3. South 1:36.38. 100 backstroke—1. Hutchinson, East, 58.02; 2. Randle, East, 58.36; 3. Childs, Heights, 1:03.69. 100 breaststroke—1. Quah, East, 1:01.19; 2. Sanders, Heights, 1:04.18; 3. Hwang, East, 1:07.84. 400 free relay—1. Heights (Jensen, D. Gantenbein, Childs, A. Gantenbein), 3:23.97; 2. East 3:28.37; 3. East 3:46.68.