WARSAW – If anyone wanted to know if Grant Knight was motivated to do well at Saturday’s Warsaw Boys Swim Sectional, they just needed to see his first swim. Knight’s leg of the medley saw him pull away from everyone, setting the tone for his monster day.
Knight helped Warsaw open the sectional with a medley relay championship at 1:37.35, which met the state cut time, and the sophomore was just getting started. Two events later, Columbia City’s Aaron Fix looked like he was primed to upset Knight in the individual medley, until the third leg came along – the breaststroke – which Knight caught and passed Fix with ease. A 33.69 leg from Knight put him five full seconds ahead into the freestyle kicker, with sent Knight to a 1:59.73 title, a full four seconds ahead of Fix.
Knight later anchored the 200 free relay to the state finals with a championship 1:28.74 and won his signature breaststroke with a state cut time of 57.77.
“I was comfortable, I just knew that I had to catch up and swim my times like I know I can,” Knight said lumping in both the medley and IM performances. In responding to returning to the state finals for a second straight year, Knight added, “The adrenaline rush, that’s going to be a big thing next week. I’m hoping to see some time drops and watch the other guys do really well. I just want to see us all do well at the state meet.”
Warsaw had just one other championship on Saturday, and it was a curious one. The butterfly was supposed to have Columbia City’s Ryan Devito and Warsaw’s Evan Borchers battling it out, Devito the clubhouse favorite after a big prelims showing. But in lane three, Ian Deming quietly went about his business while the other two were checking each other on the back stretch. Deming would slide to the wall at 53.32, edging Devito’s 53.73 and Borchers’ 54.30 for what would be the only real ‘upset’ of the meet.
“It shows that everybody prepares differently,” said Warsaw head coach Tony DeBrota of Deming, who also won the consolation round of the 50 free. “Whatever Ian needed to do to get ready personally, he must have did it. He’s an introvert, you don’t hear much from him. He didn’t make a big deal of the win right away, but I know he was super pumped about it. If you give him a little time to reflect, come Monday, I’m sure we’ll talk more about it.”
The Tigers continued to roll as a unit despite not having a large compliment of aces at the front of its lineup. Warsaw had 22 championship round swims, and used a pair of runner-up swims from Borchers in the 200 and Nick Bazzoni in the breaststroke to stack up 421 points, winning its 11th title in a row.
Columbia City, which had Matt Webber win the 200 free (1:46.29), Fix win the backstroke (55.24) and its 400 free relay clip CMA (3:17.76), place second in the meet with a satisfying 315 points. CMA, behind titles from Forrest Baumgartner in the 50 free (21.25) and 100 free (47.34) – both state cut times to boot – were third with 290 points, just passing Rochester’s 287 points. The Zebras had a title winner in Mason Beall, who came from behind to win the 500 freestyle at 4:55.96, getting Devito late in the race and holding on the final two lengths.
Plymouth diver Justin Moser led the quartet of qualifiers with a 331.15 series, shadowed by the Tippecanoe Valley duo of Travis Shull at 317.70 and Zach Hodge at 312.20. CMA’s Theo Mitz took fourth at 290.00. The four will move to Tuesday’s Mishawaka Diving Regional, where the top eight divers will qualify for the IHSAA State Finals next weekend.
Valley’s other tournament carryover could be Chase Brower, who landed second in the 50 free at 21.77 and is sitting on the bubble to get a state callback, the state cut at 21.59. Already the school record holder in the event, Brower wasn’t able to catch Baumgartner in the speed race, or the 100 free, where Brower was fourth, which was going to make for a nervous few hours into the Saturday nightfall.
“It will be suspenseful, I gave it all I had, but it would be awesome if it does happen. I went out with a bang, did the best I could,” Brower said. “There was a lot of pressure. But this has been one to remember. I put my mark on the school, setting the 50 freestyle record and you can’t beat that. State would be the cherry on top. But either way, I’ve had a good year.”
The IHSAA Boys Swim State will begin Friday night at IUPUI in Indianapolis. The top 16 swims will return to Saturday for the consolation and championship finals. Diving will begin Saturday morning with its preliminaries and continue into the finals Saturday afternoon with the swim meet.