INDIANAPOLIS – It wasn’t the State trip Warsaw wanted, but it was a State trip nonetheless.
Warsaw had just one of its six swims make the Second Day, and that – Grant Knight in the breaststroke – is only in the consolation final as the Tigers weren’t able to make many major moves Friday night in the preliminary round of the IHSAA Boys Swimming State Championships.
Warsaw knew it was up against it coming into the prelims, seeded no higher than 27th other than Knight’s seven in the breaststroke. That played out for the most part, as its three relays finished 23rd, 26th and 30th. It’s other two individual events were 29th and 31st.
While the Tigers didn’t have the output it wanted, it did achieve a few goals.
“The goal for every event that we had, to improve,” said Warsaw head coach Tony DeBrota. “While we got to have a nice farewell to that deep senior class we have, we saw everyone improve at least one spot from where they were seeded. And that matters to us.”
DeBrota was spot-on in that assessment. Warsaw’s medley relay team of seniors Zach LaLonde, Knight and Mel Littlefield as well as junior Michael Ray moved up six spots to 23rd with their time of 1:38.36. It’s 200 free relay posted a 1:28.78 to move up one spot to 26th, forged by Ray, Littlefield, Knight and Nick Bazzoni. The 400 free relay closed out the night with a 30th-place time of 3:25.09, Bazzoni, LaLonde, Jacob Monesmith and Nate Taylor with the honors.
Knight inched up one spot to 30th in the 50 free at 21.92 in a race that had 30 of the 32 swimmers above a 22-second stop. And Cooper Archer moved up one spot to 31st in the individual medley, clocking a 2:07.62.
“Chemistry was high, it was a good week,” offered DeBrota. “Cooper dropped time. The dude is an animal. He went out to drop time and he delivered. I think this was a great experience for him. He came in 32nd, he left 31st. It might not look like a lot, but it is a step.”
Warsaw’s Day Two race will come from Knight, just not the heat he wanted. Knight came into the evening less than two-and-a-half seconds off the pace, but saw his leg of the race have the state leader, Kyle Adams of Munster, as well as Chesterton’s Andrew Alders holding the middle lanes. Knight kept pace for the first 40 yards, but didn’t have the underwater burst like Adams and Alders did, which created space while Knight was already above water in his stroke. Adams would use the push to take the heat at 54.30 and settle as the top seed while Alders would grab third overall at 55.04. Knight wasn’t far behind at 57.48, but in a fast event that had all eight championship flight times post under 57, Knight will have to settle for a consolation shot in his final high school swim.
“After heat two, the field got a heckuva lot quicker,” DeBrota said. “We said, hey, now you know. You gotta go quicker. Grant was working like a dog for this his whole season and just got edged out. Sometimes it’s just not in the stars.”
Northridge didn’t set the pool on fire like in recent years, but had quite a prelim round flying under the radar. The Raiders only brought seven events to the Natatorium, but have four returning Saturday. Its medley and 200 free relays are both in consolation finals, Luke Dibley will swim in the 500 free consolations, and among all the Warsaw focus in the breaststroke was Joey Garberick, who landed fifth at 55.14 and has a shot at a top-three.
Elkhart Central’s Lucas Byrd is returning for the consoles of the 100 and 200 freestyles and Concord’s Will Harris slipped into the console finals of the 50 free.
NorthWood diver Caden Jenkins will work Saturday morning in the diving prelims.
“It’s all about expecting the training that’s required,” DeBrota said. “You can’t expect to swim just four months out of the year and then expect to come here and be a top 16. Some teams have the talent to do that. We typically don’t. You have to be able to put the work in, and not be upset if you don’t get the results. That said, we still want to come down here and improve. We didn’t score the points we wanted to. We still were able to turn some heads, I think, like the medley relay. I don’t think we’ve placed that high in a relay since the 2015 class. We’ll take that.”