The second season is officially here for the high school swim world. Sectionals across the state opened Thursday night with qualifying preliminary rounds, including at sites in Elkhart and Warsaw. Swim consolation and championship rounds are set, with diving starting up in the morning to begin Championship Saturday.
In the first-ever sectional at the world class Elkhart Health and Aquatics Center, Northridge and Concord have positioned themselves for quite a final round battle, while Wawasee will keep an eye on the scoreboard.
Northridge enters the finals with the top seed in eight of the 11 swim events, including all three relays. Elsa Fretz is in line to defend her 50 free state title, sitting at 24.05, as well as the leader in the butterfly at 57.37. Sydney Nethercutt will also apex the 200 free (1:53.66) and 500 free (5:06.71) and sister, Jenna, has a 1:05.26 to lead the breaststrokers. The Raiders will also send out three top-flight divers on Saturday in hopes of making a deep state push.
Concord qualified two top times Thursday, with Isabella Sponseller leading the individual medley (2:11.59) and Ella Lantz is out front of the backstroke (57.15). Diver Brooke Farnham will make a push for a title and a run to state.
Wawasee’s Alexis Mishler leads the field in the 100 free, posting a 53.49 and is just behind Lantz in the backstroke, setting up a rematch of a thrilling Northern Lakes Conference championship where Mishler caught Lantz in the final 25 yards to win the title. The Lady Warriors have seven other qualifiers swimming for championships, including Kiah Farrington, Cammy Kryder and Lily Tyler in two events, and Ella Park in the 500 and Rileigh Atwood in the breast. All three Wawasee relays are staged in the top five for Saturday and a half-dozen are in consolation finals.
NorthWood doesn’t have a championship swim lane, but has five qualified for consolation finals including two for Elle Roberts. Divers Reagan Koble and Caitlin Knepp will take a crack at a regional qualification.
Warsaw will have some work to do if it wants to claim its fourth straight sectional team title. In the prelims at the Warsaw Community Pool, the Tigers have just one top time heading into Saturday’s finals.
The Warsaw medley relay was all the Lady Tigers were able to move to the front of the line, recording a 2:00.31, but just .17 ahead of Culver Academy. The Eagles own the top time in the 200 free relay and 400 free relay, with Warsaw second in both heading into the finals.
Where Warsaw has an advantage, however, will be stacking points. The Lady Tigers have eight swimmers locked into 16 championship finals and six more in consolation rounds. Melissa Deming is primed with a pair of top three times in the 500 free and breast, and Warsaw had double dips in finals from Gracie Scholl, Taylor Gunter, Macelyn Marcuccilli, Mariana Malagon, Rachel Doyle, Lily Boston and Maddy Morgan.
Tippecanoe Valley has Olivia Livengood qualified for two championship swims, posted third in both the IM and fly, and its medley and 400 free relays are also qualified for title shots. Shayleigh Honeycutt will take aim in a pair of consolation rounds.
Manchester’s sister act of Halle and Josie Briner lead the field in four events. Halle is in front of the 200 free (2:01.02) and breast (1:09.44) while Josie leads the IM (2:18.01) and fly (1:00.87).
Culver Academy’s Autumn Baumgartner leads the way in the 50 free (24.79) and 100 free (54.87) while teammate Emily Heim posted the top 500 free time at 5:40.19.
Columbia City’s Lauren Liston is atop the backstroke list at 1:02.93.