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Clark County Sports

December 12, 2012

POOLSIDE: Jeff, Floyd will size each other up tonight

JEFFERSONVILLE — When Jeffersonville and Floyd Central — the top two swimming programs in Southern Indiana — meet each year, it’s special.

It’s the first chance for each program to size up the other.

There will be four teams at tonight’s meet at the Jeff High Natatorium — a boys’ and a girls’ squad on each side — but it will certainly mean more for Floyd Central’s boys and Jeffersonville’s girls.

For the past few seasons, the Highlander boys and Jeff girls have been doing the chasing, while the Jeff boys and Floyd girls have been winning championships.

Floyd Central girls have won five straight sectional titles, sharing it with Seymour and New Albany in 2010.

Jeffersonville has almost always been in the mix, but the 2012-13 Red Devils may be their strongest squad in seven or eight years.

The Highlanders won last year’s sectional by 21 points over runner-up New Albany with fourth-place Jeff 102 points behind.

“I don’t know if this is our year to crash their party,” Jeff coach Keith Gast said, “but we certainly want to get closer than last year.”

“Everyone is going to want to put their best foot forward against us,” Floyd coach Joe Perkins admitted. “Keith wants to do the best he can against us. We want to do the best we can against them.”

Jeff’s girls have already seen a strong team, losing head-to-head to New Albany last week. Gast said the Devils learned that they’ve improved, but still have some catching up to do when it comes to the area’s elite programs.

“We learned a big lesson last week,” Gast said of the loss to New Albany. “We are definitely better than we thought. But [New Albany’s] Rachel [Klein] and Hannah [Manger] showed our younger girls what it takes to be competitive in the middle of the season.

“We know it will be more of the same against Floyd. They’ve got a lot of experience. They’ve been at the top of the heap the last couple of years. We’re anxious to see how we will do. In our home pool, hopefully we will step it up and win some races that maybe we’re not supposed to.”

“We’re still very young on the girls’ side,” Perkins said. “In some events, we’ll have three freshmen. Hopefully, in the exciting atmosphere, they can step up as freshmen and continue to improve.”

On the other side, Jeff’s boys crushed the competition at last year’s Floyd Central Sectional. In the end, the Red Devils were a whopping 147 points ahead of runner-up Floyd Central.

Like the Jeff girls, the experienced Highlander boys are out to at least put a dent in the Red Devils’ dominance.

“Our boys are excited about swimming this meet,” Perkins said. “We get to see where we measure up. The atmosphere will be great. Our kids will be excited to race against kids who they will be competing with for state bids in the sectional, hopefully.”

“It’s always a good meet — girls and guys,” Gast said. “Our guys are really looking forward to it. It’s a good rivalry. Both sides are anticipating a good meet. There are definitely some bragging rights on the line. Floyd is much better than last year and people are hoping we’re down a little from last year. We’re going to see how that goes.”

Although Jeff and Floyd will get a good idea of how each team stacks up against its rival, dual meets don’t always tell the story. With athletes from other schools certain to take some top spots and with a different point system, it will be difficult to gain too much knowledge from Thursday’s outing.

“When we get to conference and sectional, we’re looking at eight teams for conference and 16 teams for sectional at how we can score the most points,” Perkins said. “[Tonight], we’ll be looking for our top swimmers to do what they can do. For our relays, we’re looking to post our best times of the years.”

The two sides will worry about tournament time when it arrives. For now, both teams just want to beat the other.

“Any time we step on the pool deck, we want to go after the win,” Perkins said. “Is that what’s going to happen at this point? It’s hard to say. But it sets up pretty good for us because we don’t race [this week] until [tonight].”

“We get a good idea of what some of the top swimmers are going to swim and how their relays stack up against ours,” Gast said. “I say it almost every year, winning this dual meet doesn’t mean you’re going to win the conference or the sectional. There have been a lot of years when one team has won the dual meet the other won conference and sectionals.

“But I do know this: In December, I would rather win than lose.”

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