As Northwestern girls swim coach Cindy Britten put it, “a fingertip touch” was the difference between first and second place in Saturday’s Mid-Indiana Conference championships.
Heading into the final event of the day, the 400-yard freestyle relay, Western’s girls held a slim lead over Northwestern, 270.5 to 264.5.
A win in the relay for the Purple Tigers would allow them to grab a share of their third straight league title. The Panthers had other plans, but the race couldn’t have been any closer.
Western came from behind in the middle stages of the race, only to have Northwestern nearly recover before the Panthers’ Anna Constable out-touched the Tigers’ Addie Roth to win in 3:55.26, just .26 ahead of Northwestern. It gave the Panthers a 302.5-290.5 victory in the Tigers’ tank.
Western won its first MIC title since it won three straight from 2005-07.
“As a coach, it’s the greatest feeling in the world,” Western coach Brad Bennett said. “Coming in, we were favored, but not by much, so we knew that in order to pull this off we’d have to outlast an outstanding Northwestern team with outstanding competitors. We were going to have to go out and earn it, not just show up and win it. We accomplished that by the skin of our teeth. It’s a great team win, and I’m so proud of all of our girls for pulling together to win it. They were all outstanding.”
Western senior Summer Brown entered the pool for the third leg with her team trailing by two body lengths. The Vanderbilt recruit made up the deficit and more, giving Constable a two-body-length lead to work with for the final leg.
That’s when Roth went to to work, slowing reeling in the difference. Deafening cheers filled the natatorium in the final 25 yards as Roth appeared to have the momentum to overtake Constable, but Constable’s long frame allowed her the fingertip touch necessary to touch the wall just ahead of a hard-charging Roth.