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SEC title on the line Thursday night for Raiders

A conference title is within the grasp of the Hastings swimming and diving team. It would be the first conference crown since the mid-1990s for Hastings.

It all comes down to a meet here tonight (Thursday, Feb. 7) against East Ridge.

Both teams are 8-0 on the season.

"It's going to be extremely close," coach Gerry Rupp said. "There will be a lot of very close races. The relays will be crucial in how the meet shapes up. As strange as it may seem, the outcome of the meet might be decided by a couple of fifth-place finishes."

Rupp said that the way he figures it, the meet will come down to about four points either way. Fifth-place swimmers get one point for their team, while sixth-place swimmers don't earn any team points. If Hastings' depth can come up big and pick up more than its share of those fifth-place finishes, those points could make a big difference, Rupp said.

Both teams are hard at work trying to set their best lineup, all the while studying the opposition and guessing where their top swimmers will go.

"It is a bit of a chess match right now, trying with reasonable certainty to guess where they are going to put their best guys and in particular their best sprinter," Rupp said. "Where he goes will definitely affect the outcome of the relays."

Hastings' top swimmers haven't been tested much this year, but that will likely be different against East Ridge.

Colby Smith has cruised in the 200 individual medley so far this season, but an East Ridge swimmer has a better time than Smith so far this year.

The story is similar in the 500 freestyle, where Thomas Everson comes in with a slower seed time this season than the East Ridge swimmer he will likely face.

"Neither one of those guys has been pushed in that event," Rupp said.

Vs Forest Lake

Hastings beat Forest Lake on Thursday night, 85-83. Hastings swam exhibition only in the final relay, making the score look closer than the meet was.

"Forest Lake is a good team, though," Rupp said. "They are much improved. We did mix up our lineup a little bit, but we had to keep it fairly strong in order to pull off the win."

The swimmer of the meet for Hastings was Scott Christensen, who had season-best times in all four of his swims.

"He's been working hard and making all the optional morning practices," Rupp said.

Results from the meet went like this:

200 medley relay - team of John Utecht, Mikey Everson, Elijah Reilly and Cole Scully, second, 1:53.13; team of Colby Smith, Hunter Sassor, Jack Weldon and Aaron McCullough, 1:54.57.

200 freestyle - Thomas Everson, first, 1:49.46; Brandon Underwood, third, 1:53.42; Bobby Moore, 2:06.74.

200 individual medley - Jack VanZee, first, 2:12.55; Cole Tipler, second, 2:14.49; Stephen Smith, fourth, 2:18.43.

50 freestyle - Underwood, first, 23.29; Utecht, fourth, 24.32; Kenny Benson, 25.55.

100 butterfly - Schmitt, first, 56.19; Scully, fifth, 1:03.38; Stephen Smith, 1:05.82.

100 freestyle - Colby Smith, first, 50.37; Tipler, third, 52.98; VanZee, fifth, 53.64.

500 freestyle - Thomas Everson, first, 5:11.65; Sassor, third, 5:17.64; Weldon, 5:50.76.

200 freestyle relay - team of Schmitt, Colby Smith, Underwood and Thomas Everson, first, 1:31.09; team of VanZee, Tipler, Reilly and Utecht, third, 1:36.42; team of Mikey Everson, Benson, Stephen Smith and Weldon, 1:46.17.

100 backstroke - Schmitt, first, 1:03.60; Sassor, fourth, 1:08.60; McCullough, fifth, 1:08.61.

100 breaststroke - Colby Smith, first, 1:04.96; Mikey Everson, fifth, 1:13.44; Utecht, 1:13.77.

400 freestyle relay - team of Thomas Everson, Tipler, Underwood and Schmitt, 3:28.92; team of VanZee, Benson, Sassor and Reilly, 3:44.38; team of Stephen Smith, McCullough, Weldon and Scully, 4:05.60.

Vs Park

Hastings beat Park on Jan. 24 to improve to 7-0 on the season.

The swimmer of the meet was John Rupp, who had a season-best time drop in three of his four swims. He cut 48 seconds off his previous best time in the 500 freestyle.

Results from the Park meet went like this:

200 medley relay - team of Utecht, Sassor, Scully and Christensen, second, 1:54.78; team of Smith, Smith, Cal Gergen and McCullough, third, 1:55.9; team of Weldon, Tipler, Patrick Clark and Alec Hagen, 1:57.72.

200 freestyle - Schmitt, first, 2:03.02; Benson, second, 2:12.53; Carter Williams, third, 2:14.91.

200 individual medley - Thomas Everson, first, 2:06.78; Weldon, third, 2:24.42; McCullough, fourth, 2:26.10.

50 freestyle - Colby Smith, first, 23.76; Hagen, third, 27.22.

Diving - Vova Tipler, fourth, 134.95; Mikey Everson, fifth, 112.70; Benson, 107.55.

100 butterfly - Thomas Everson, first, 58.15; Stephen Smith, second, 1:05.62; Gergen, fourth, 1:10.64.

100 freestyle - Colby Smith, first, 51.75; Weldon, third, 56.73; McCullough, 59.56.

500 freestyle - Sassor, first, 5:20.57; Tipler, second, 5:35.40; Clark, third, 6:12.60.

200 freestyle relay - team of Smith, Christensen, Tipler and Everson, first, 1:39.25; team of Utecht, Everson, VanZee and Sassor, second, 1:41.83; team of Clark, Williams, Benson and Weldon, 1:48.49.

100 backstroke - Schmitt, first, 1:03.86; Scully, second, 1:07.64; Reilly, third, 1:09.78.

100 breaststroke - VanZee, 1:09.60; Clark, 1:18.06; Christensen, 1:18.89.