With four days left in the season, there are still two more jewels to be won in the triple crown. As has been the case for most of the past decade, both Overlee and Chesterbrook head into the Allstar meet undefeated. However, anyone who has been there for the duel meet will tell you that what happens on Wednesday is important for determining the outcome on Saturday simply because it can help or hurt your team’s momentum. Overlee has to be feeling good about winning D1 relay carnival, and getting through a tough Tuckahoe meet, putting them in a position to control their own destiny. Chesterbrook on the other hand has rolled their competition this year, winning every meet by roughly 100 points or more. Both teams match up very evenly, making for a thrilling meet come Saturday, and a difficult relay meet to properly predict–nonetheless, we are going to give it a try.
Allstar relays takes the top 18 relays for each event (22) from the entire league, making three heats of 6, with the final heat featuring the top six teams. The 1st place relay scores 44 team points, 2nd receives 38, and every place there after receives 2 points less than the position above (36,34,32,30,…), with the only exception being a 4 point difference between 9th-10th-11th (24,20,16), which then reverts back to the standard two point difference. None of the heats are locked, meaning the 18th seeded team can win first place if they swim the fastest time. Overlee has all 22 relays qualified, with 17 in the top heat, and the lowest seed being the 8-under boys 100 medley relay at 10th. Chesterbrook has 20 relays qualifed, all of which are seeded in the top 6. Tuckahoe, for reference, has 21 relays qualified, 15 of which are in the top heat, and the lowest seed being 16th. On paper, Overlee is seeded to win the meet with 764 points–Chesterbrook gets second with 732 points–Tuckahoe takes third with 670 points.
This is why Overlee will win Allstar Relays!
Chesterbrook starts this meet already in the hole, needing to make up 32 points across the meet. Furthermore, they have very little room to make up that difference because other than the jump to first place, which is a 6 point pick up, every other spot they move up only gives them an additional 2 points. To make things more difficult, with every relay in the top heat, they will be swimming against the best relays in each event, who will be equally gunning for the gold medal. Lastly, Chesterbrook has probably swum about as fast as any of their relays are going to swim, with regular top-notch competition to swim against on a weekly basis; however, on a yearly basis, teams from lower divisions dominate their competition, and finally get to the big, league meet with nothing to lose and everything to gain–put those teams in a tough race, and they drop seconds like you would not believe, making their peak potential truly unknown. This outside factor keeps the possibility for Chesterbrook to fall off their top seeds, and slip even more in the point differential. Of course, the downside to that situation is the consistency Chesterbrook and other division 1 teams bring to the table that these one-off relays will be lacking.
On the other hand, Overlee has mostly top seeded teams, but also a number of lower seeded teams with room to improve significantly. Without question–everything that I listed above as problematic for Chesterbrook is 100% a threat to Overlee as well, but having a little wiggle room makes the unexpected dark horse relay jump less detrimental. In these meets, most of the top teams like Overlee, Chesterbrook, and Tuckahoe will largely hold their seeds, with the occasional drop or jump. Over the past years, Overlee has made up enormous deficits to win this meet, so it is not outside the realm of possibility that Chesterbrook could make up that difference. If Overlee disqualifies even one relay, that door swings wide open, making it anyones ball game. However, I will point back to the momentum the Flying Fish have carried throughout the season, and how the kids appear to be improving on a weekly basis. There are absolutely no indications that this team has peaked, so watch out for those younger relays to step up and improve on their seeds. Furthermore, the seniors are proven warriors, and have a little room to play around with their seeds as well. Therefore, I think Overlee will win this meet handedly!
Lets take a look at the races and how they will impact the meet
Mixed Age Relays
Tuckahoe is seeded to win both mixed age relays, with Overlee getting 9th in the girls and 3rd in the boys–CST is seeded to get 4th in the girls, and have no boys relay because of a disqualification from last week. The top heat is separated by about two seconds, putting CST in a delicate position with everyone able to contend to win. Overlee did not have a great girls mixed age relay to start the meet the other night, but that is largely due to how fast our division is in this event (all the other 5 relays from D1 are in the fast heat). Sitting at 9th, the girls are in a great spot to compete with their heat, and put Alice Bruce and Kayle Park in a position to race the swimmers next to them, which could improve their time considerably–do not be surprised if these girls jump up into the top 6. The boys are seeded third, and swam top seeded Tuckahoe to the finish on Saturday. This will be a race between the top three teams–Sam Ellison was the swimmer of the meet last week, and Ryan York has been unconscious in the pool lately, so as a betting man, I put my money on these boys to pull out a first.
Chesterbrook is the top seed in both of the girls relays, with Overlee second in the medley and fourth in the free. It looks to be a race between the top two for the medley; however, there are a few lower division teams in that heat so watch out for some outside smoke to mess things up. In the free, CST is the top seed by 3 seconds, but only a few tenths separate seeds 2-5–this is a great spot for Overlee to pick up a few cushioning points to protect the lead. The girls have been swimming really well in recent weeks, so give these girls a chance to do just about anything. The Overlee boys have been improving rapidly week in and week out–they are seeded 10th in the medley and 8th in the free. Like the girls mixed age, I believe this will be beneficial by putting the boys in a race, which should push each swimmer when they have someone to swim hard against next to them. Overall that will improve their times, and they are only one second away from the top seed in their heat in each event, with some space behind them, putting them a little outside of upset territory. The munchkins could be all too important in deciding this meet for Overlee.
The 9-10s are Overlee’s bread and butter–the girls are the top seed in medley and third in free, while the boys are second in medley and the favorite in the free. The girls are essentially safe in the medley, having beaten the second seeded Chesterbrook by a second last week. In the free, the girls are in no real danger of dropping, and could pick up 8 critical points by moving up, seeing as how they are only a second behind top seeded Highlands, and half a second behind Chesterbrook. The boys, have been nothing but fireworks all season, and when you have Evan Ingraham in the anchor spot going in at the same time as the field, he is a solid bet to win. I like this age group winning 3 of 4 golds.
This will be Overlee’s biggest test tomorrow, given their seeds and how close everyone is behind them. Chesterbrook boys are third in medley and second in free with a realistic opportunity to win free, and get that critical six point boost. Overlee is seeded fifth in the medley and free with four relays only a second behind them in each event–three of which will swim in the heat before them. This is difficult because those three teams will push each other, and Overlee virtually wont see the others coming, while they try to compete with the better teams in their heat, putting them on upset alert. Meanwhile the CST girls are the top seed in each relay, and look to be safe–meaning an upset would be devastating for any comeback hopes. Overlee is fourth and fifth with contenders right behind them, and a bit of work to do if they want to move up. We have seen this age group do remarkable things since they were munchkins, so never count them out!
No matter how you cut it, the Overlee girls are as good as anyone in the league, and have been their entire careers. They are the top seed in the medley by two seconds, and are only second by a tenth in the free, with no one else in the field even remotely close. They are next to a sure thing, and can only give Overlee a nice six point boost. The boys will be absolutely exciting to see what they can do–after proving that they refuse to be overlooked last week, and have stepped up individually in close meets. They are the nine seed in medley and will be swimming to hang on and not drop in that race according to paper, and then will be in a similar situation in the free, but this time swimming in lane 3 from the 7 position. They will need to swim all best times to move up, but will create some much needed drama for Chesterbrook to hope for, who will only have the medley relay to score points in, but will sit idle in the free after DQing their relay last week.
If Overlee is winning going into the senior relays then this thing is over. The senior ladies were the first team in NVSL history to break to 2:00 mark in the medley last week–Chesterbrook meanwhile will be fighting the field to hold onto their second place points. In the free relay, it will be a three way race for first, and a three way race for 4th–fortunately for Overlee, they are in that first group, only a few hundredths back from top seeded Tuckahoe–unfortunately for Chesterbrook, they are in the second group, hoping to hold off an upset. However, to their credit, they have some very good senior girl swimmers who could make up the 6 tenth deficit and compete with the top teams.
The boys races will end the medley and free portions of the meet with everyone on their feet, looking to the timer board to flash which lane pulled it out. In the medley, Overlee is the top seed with the relay carnival league record, with the Saturday league record holders, Tuckahoe, on the right, and a super team, composed of two Chesterbrook defectors and the Washington Post All-metropolitan swimmer of the year on Fox Mill Woods, to the left. Fox Mill Woods is a largely unknown entity because they have no competition in Division 9 where they are over 8 seconds faster than the next best team. Just outside the top three is Highlands, who out-swam our senior boys in week 1, and a desperate Chesterbrook team looking to improve their standing. Everyone will come to the wall together–thank goodness for touch pads, removing human error from deciding this one. The freestyle event will be almost an exact rematch, with Tuckahoe and Fox Mill Woods as the favorites right next to each other, and Overlee and Highlands hoping to contend right next to them. Chesterbrook finds itself in the unfortunate position in these races by drawing an outside lane based on their seeds, and having to swim up against a wall. It will take an incredible effort for Overlee to win this race, but the meet should be largely decided before this one, leaving the final swim to be one for the fans.
Final Prediction: Overlee 775 Chesterbrook 715
60 points may look like a lot, but I think Chesterbrook really finds themselves in a seriously disadvantaged position because of their many top seeds. They look to have numerous contenders who can mess things up for them, where Overlee is for one reason or another in a safer position. At a certain point, the kids know which way the meet is trending, and it spreads like a virus through the team areas. When one side starts winning, everyone else wants in on the glory, and I think that will continue to propel the Flying Fish. Furthermore, not having relays in two critical points of the meet will be daggers to any momentum they hope to build. Overlee will be there in force with a strong booster section, mixed with members of the team not swimming. It will be a great meet to enjoy in person, and ultimately see the Flying Fish potentially bring home the big trophy for the 26th time in the 41 year history of the meet!
Below is a sheet provided by my covert numerical wizard who goes by the pseudonym Huckleberry Pie!