INDIANAPOLIS – The final weekend of high school swimming in the state of Indiana is bearing down upon the competitors as the IHSAA Boys Swimming State Finals is set. Sectional stress is out of the way, and those that survived the rush now have one more chance to make a name for themselves.
The Warsaw sectional had a diverse group advance to IUPUI for Friday’s preliminaries. It will take a special night from many of those qualifiers to make day two as times from Warsaw were among the bottom third of state contenders heading into the weekend. The top state qualifier from the Warsaw sectional is Warsaw’s medley relay, which at 1:38.41 is seeded 24th. To put that spot into perspective, 20 teams are seeded higher than the state cut of 1:37.77, the top being Carmel at 1:31.91. The top individual would be Warsaw’s Grant Knight, who sits in 27th place with his one-minute flat in the breaststroke.
The Tigers do have all three relay teams set for Friday, with its medley, the 200 free (32nd, 1:31.91) and 400 free (30, 3:19.10) all eligible to compete.
“I think if there are two that can make it, it would be the medley and the four-free,” said Warsaw head coach Tony DeBrota on his team’s chances. “The two free, I would love to just see all four of those guys get into the 22s, that would be awesome for next year as they are all young guys. We only lose Hudson (Snyder) to graduation. The medley, that one I really think we can get top 16. I know that’s the one we feel is the strongest. The 400, there’s is no reason why we can’t get into the mid three-teens.”
Tippecanoe Valley will have its junior, Chase Brower, swimming in his first-ever state finals. The 50 freestyle champion brings his 22.42 to Indianapolis, but is finding out what life is like in the big city. Brower’s time has him seeded 35th, which is last among the bulging speed event. In all, 31 of the 35 swimmers qualifying for the 50 were under 22 seconds, 27 of which were under the state cut of 21.70, four of those breaking 21 seconds led by Carmel’s Andrew Couchon at a blistering 20.49.
It’s more of the experience for Brower, who is planning on just enjoying the moment.
“Get under water, a good start and a good turn,” Brower summed up on what has to happen to make a Saturday swim. “The speed will take care of itself.
“My nerves, I never turned them off. They were there the whole time. I just have to take a deep breath and know that I can do it. Just push through.”
Wawasee has just one entry into the state competition, that being Brady Robinson in the individual medley. In what became a wild finish at the Concord sectional, Robinson finished third with his 1:52.54 to secure a state cut time. Northridge’s Spencer Lehman posted the state’s top time at 1:50.94 with Kallaghan Findley of Concord going 1:52.27 to earn the ticket. Findley and Robinson are seeded sixth and seventh, respectively, but also toss in Northridge’s Michael Vancoppenelle (20, 1:55.77) and Trevor Sallee (21, 1:55.85) to give the sectional five qualifiers. Culver Academy’s Forest Baumgartner represents the Warsaw entrant (28, 1:59.79).
Lehman is one of three Raiders to qualify for the 500 freestyle, Lehman looking to defend his state crown in the event. The senior is seeded third at 4:32.57, but is within a second of the leader, Wyatt Davis of Carmel. Connor Glenn and Nicholas Dibley give Northridge two more swimmers in the top 15 of the event.
In all, Northridge has 16 entrants in either a solo or relay event.
Concord has both its 200 and 400 relays active, and Findley is also a top-10 qualifier in the breaststroke (10, 57.92).
Three area divers will compete Saturday in Logan Brown of Elkhart Central, Austin Leas of Concord and Terik Jenkins of Northridge.
The IHSAA Boys Swimming State Finals preliminary round begins at 6 p.m. Friday night at the IUPUI Natatorium. Diving will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday morning with its preliminary rounds, and consolation and championship swims and dives will begin that afternoon at 1 p.m. The top eight swimmers from Friday night advance to the championship flight, the next eight to the consolation flight.