WARSAW – A rush in the back third of the Warsaw Boys Swim Sectional had the Warsaw Tigers save some face, but also solidify its ninth straight and 17th overall team title Saturday afternoon.
Warsaw won six titles overall, including both the 200 and 400 free relays, as well as diving. The mustard in Warsaw’s 400 showed a lot of guts, particularly from third leg Hudson Snyder, who made a close first two 100s not so close after three. Matt Wildman would hold off Rochester’s Eli Pugh to the wall in the final 25 to clock 3:18.27 to set the new sectional standard set by the 2011 Warsaw relay team. Ethan Cook and Evan Borchers started the event off for the Tigers.
Wildman, Ethan Cook, Alex Cook and Adam Doyle swam to a championship in the 200 free relay at 1:29.57, an event Warsaw head coach Tony DeBrota admitted wasn’t what Warsaw wanted to stack earlier in the season. But feeling there was a window in the sectional, DeBrota rolled the dice with his lineup and a state ticket was earned.
“That 400 was definitely exciting,” DeBrota said. “We kept loading our medley relay up to conference, but our captains said maybe we should load the freestyles. If you want to have a good team, you need freestyles. Usually we don’t swim the 400 freestyle very hard. By the end of dual meets, our team is dragging, and that 400 struggles. To see them come back and deliver was exciting, being better than what they had been throughout the year.”
Ethan Cook and Wildman went one-two in the 50 finals, Cook a winner at 22.18, Wildman at 22.48 and likely on the bubble for an at-large berth. Wildman would come back to blow away the field in the breaststroke, earning the automatic state ticket with a 1:02.90.
Zach Taylor claimed the first place ribbon with his 55.75 winner in the backstroke, pulling away from Rochester’s Jeffrey Ruppert in the final lap.
Warsaw diver Tyler Paseka led a narrow field, taking the title at 383.95 with just six divers competing in the finals. Warsaw’s Nick Bell finished third at 359.25, both advancing to Tuesday’s diving regional at Mishawaka.
Ethan Cook nearly had a second event title in the 100, only to be outtouched at the wall by Columbia City’s Matt Webber at 48.48 to Cook’s 48.52.
Rochester’s Eli Pugh won two titles in style, taking the 200 freestyle in record fashion at 1:44.43, besting Warsaw’s Jayden Parrett (1:44.63) set last season. Pugh came back to break the record in the 500 free at 4:45.19, taking down the 4:46.54 set in 2011 by Culver Academy’s David DeVries.
Rochester also opened the meet with a 1:40.69 winner in the medley relay.
Culver Academy’s Forrest Baumgartner also pulled a double, taking both the individual medley (2:00.28) and butterfly (53.30).
Warsaw, despite the lack of front end titles, still blew away the field with 496 points, well ahead of runner-up Culver Academy’s 349 points and Rochester’s 284.
“I think this speaks to how important these seniors have been to us,” DeBrota said of his roster, which listed nine seniors in the championship program. “To see guys like Mason Metzinger drop three, four seconds in the breaststroke is a big deal. I know this win means a lot to them, they wanted to go out as sectional champs. I know there’s business to be done next week, but I hope this shows our younger guys what they can accomplish.”
Tippecanoe Valley’s Chase Brower had the top Viking output, finishing fourth in the 50 free at 23.17, followed by teammate Tyler Ross in fifth at 23.36. Brower also finished fifth in the 100 at 51.26. Valley’s only other finals swim came from its 200 free relay, which placed seventh at 1:42.42.
The IHSAA Boys Swimming State Finals begins at 6 p.m. Friday at the IUPUI Natatorium in Indianapolis with prelims, then returning Saturday for the championship round at 1 p.m.