Now that the girls swim season is complete, it’s now time for the boys to take center stage. Sectionals around the state got underway Thursday night, with local showdowns at Concord and Warsaw among the entertainment. Prelims Thursday determined who will swim Saturday, which will have finals at both Concord and Warsaw determine the finalists for the IHSAA State Finals next weekend.
The Tigers will enter the finals with four top times after Thursday’s qualifying at the Warsaw Community Pool.
Grant Knight owns two of them, a 22.00 in the 50 free and 57.68 in the breaststroke, the latter the more comfortable of the two. Grant Dale of Northfield is right on Knight’s heels in the 50 by less than a tenth of a second. Dale is the leader of the backstroke (54.86).
Michael Ray leads the 100 freestyle (49.31) and is in the finals of the 50 free, and the Tigers have the top medley time at 1:46.65.
The Tigers have 17 other individual swims qualified for the finals on Saturday, including two each from Nick Bazzoni, Cooper Archer, Zach LaLonde, Ian Wihebrink, Jacob Monesmith, Mel Littlefield and Nate Taylor. Sam Easter and Gabe Bowers are also making a finals appearance. Warsaw is also sitting second in the 200 free relay and third in the 400 free relay.
Tippecanoe Valley has Mason Stephen qualified for the championship runs of the 50 free and breaststroke, Brandon Hoffman in the backstroke and 100 free finals and Karl Parker alive in the individual medley. The Viking medley relay is sitting third and 400 relay seventh.
Top times among others at Warsaw include Mason Beall of Rochester in the 200 free (1:50.68), Sam Varga of Columbia City in the IM (2:09.48), Gideon Wagner of Columbia City in the butterfly (54.58), Seth Blossom of Wabash in the 500 free (4:58.72), Rochester in the 200 free relay (1:36.24) and Columbia City in the 400 free relay (3:26.98).
“Right now, if you are seeded in that top eight, that’s what we’re looking for — just making sure you’re coming back,” said Warsaw head coach Tony DeBrota. “We had some guys that moved up in some places, some guys that moved down, but overall very pleased with how we swam.
“We had a lot of guys — my assistant coach even mentioned it to me — like ‘Is it today? Are sectionals today?’ That’s OK with prelims. I’m really pleased, though. We had a lot of really good times, even PRs.
“We’ve got a very fun Saturday coming up. Seeing the guys here, they can see this goal. Hopefully we can get the 13th win in a row. Obviously, it’s not set now, but that’s something real special to our guys and hopefully we can get the job done.”
Times are likely to fall precipitously Saturday after some chess work at the Concord Sectional Thursday night.
Juggernauts Concord and Northridge had just four combined top times, but are lurking in the wake in every event. Elkhart Central, on the other hand, put itself in position for state claims with five top swims Thursday night at the Concord Natatorium.
Central had the top relay times in the medley (1:41.49) and 400 (3:26.50) as well as Lucas Byrd in the 200 free (1:45.67) and 100 free (46.96). Teammate Eric Kelm brings a 54.24 into the apex of the butterfly.
Goshen own the top time in the 200 free relay (1:33.49) and Nick Zehr in the IM (2:03.15) in an impressive showing for the RedHawks, which have swimmers peppered all over the top eights.
Northridge’s Luke Dibley owns the top time in the 500 free (4:49.46) and backstroke (55.16) and teammate Joey Garberick has the top breaststroke show (58.22) and is second in the 50, which Concord’s Will Harris has the edge at 21.63.
Wawasee has 14 total swims in the championship flight. The Warriors will have to pull some upsets if it wants to win a team title, but has several swimmers in position to compete for championships. Alex Troutman is sitting third in the breast and fourth in the IM and Daegan Kingrey is third in the 50 and fourth in the 100 frees. Karlson Hand, Nathan Kryder and Zeke Keim are all alive in two championship rounds, and Blake Roose is alive in the 500. Wawasee’s relays are third, second and fifth.
“I’m really proud of how all the kids did tonight,” started Wawasee head coach Jason Scott. “There’s some that have been on the edge all season and hit another gear tonight. We’ll regroup tomorrow and see what we need to fix and see how much more time we can drop.
“Alex’s 27 split in the breaststroke in the medley showed he was taking a step. After that, his 100 breaststroke just was awesome. There’s some little things we can tweak going into Saturday that might help him go even faster.
“We swam our relays really safe. We just wanted to get them in and be in position to score points. We had some really slow starts, but some good swims despite that. Saturday is going to very exciting for us.”
NorthWood has just two championship round swims set for Saturday, Joe Hahn slipping into the 50 in eighth, as did the 400 free relay. It will pin its primary hopes on Caden Jenkins in diving, who enters the weekend as the defending sectional champion as well as 2020 Northern Lakes Conference champion.