The winding, grueling road that is the boys swimming season will come to an end one way or another Saturday. This weekend, many roads will confluence at the IUPUI Natatorium in Indianapolis as the IHSAA Boys Swimming State Finals will take place.
The roads for Warsaw, which have seven events active, and Wawasee, which sends breaststroker Zac Hershberger to the fray, have been bumpy ones all season. But the rides have been worth it.
Dealing with a jam-packed dual season that had Warsaw make 10 appearances in 38 days before easing into the Northern Lakes Conference and Warsaw Sectional preps. Wawasee ran a similar line, swimming six conference duals and a home invitational in a matter of 25 days. Sectional glory for Warsaw had sophomores Spencer Davidson and Jayden Parrett lay claim to four titles each while Hershberger started as the third-seed but dominated the finals to punch his ticket.
Warsaw will send seven swimmers in total to Indianapolis, with senior Caleb Snyder and freshman Matt Wildman joining Parrett and Davidson for the medley relay. Junior JD French and senior Andrew Thrasher will join the sophomores in the 400 free relay while freshman Zach Taylor will work in the individual medley after winning the title at Warsaw.
Davidson, the champion of both the butterfly and breaststroke, will have some work to do to reach the top 16. Davidson will work from heat one in both events, his 1:01.15 in the breaststroke a shade slower than Hershberger’s 1:00.57, who will swim two lanes over in the same heat. The top time in the breaststroke is 56.32 from Columbus North’s Cody Taylor, and coming in second is former Northridge star Brennen Berger, who is swimming his senior season at Carmel.
Davidson’s 54.01 in the fly will need some tuning, for example Jon Stoller from Northridge comes in with a mid-level 51.56 and heat leader Aaron Whitaker of Chesterton leads all at a 48.79.
Parrett is in a similar boat as Davidson, needing to cut a little time to have good standing for Saturday. Parrett will swim in heat four of the backstroke, taking his 52.77 seed with him. Northridge’s Austin Flager, the defending state champion, is the third seed overall at 51.55, all chasing Chesterton’s Whitaker, who turned in a time of 50.99.
The 50, as usual, is up for grabs. Parrett swam a 22.38, but 28 of the 32 arriving times are under 22 seconds. Davis Arick of Fishers has the fastest 50 time at 20.49.
Zach Taylor will join Northridge’s AJ Bernth in heat one of the individual medley, Taylor at 2:06.38 in the sectional, Bernth a 1:57.01. Northridge teammate Stoller is in heat four at 1:54.67, all chasing Columbus North’s Cody Taylor, who posted a 1:51.25 over the weekend.
Warsaw’s two relays are both opening and closing the Friday festivities with heat one swims. The medley relays (1:40.80) opens the night chasing Bloomington North’s 1:34.43 while the 400 free relay (3:19.08) will need some more speed to keep pace with leader Chesterton’s 3:07.27. Northridge have relays in both the events, as well as the 200 free relay which is a three-seed and the medley just a half-second behind BNHS’s time.
“The goal at the beginning of this season was going to the state finals and score points,” Warsaw head coach Nate Long said. “If we don’t score points, it was not a successful season. I think Spencer will step up down at the state finals. Last year he dropped two seconds off his best time from sectionals to the state finals just because he had people to race.
“I think Jayden can be ranked in the top 16 in the backstroke,” continued Long. “Hopefully our medley relay is top 24 somewhere, hopefully our 400 free relay is top 24. Maybe the collective of the four events will allow us to push. Most of our school records are top 16 of the state finals, so you never know, maybe we can come back with one of them.”