INDIANAPOLIS — Heading into Friday’s boys swimming state championships at the IUPUI Natatorium, Matt Kruse allowed himself to dream.
The Mt. Vernon coach knew none of his Marauders would be contending for a state title, but he had a more realistic aspiration in mind: Everybody improves.
It’s not a rule set in stone, but if a coach can coax a swimmer’s best time out of him in his last race, they consider it a job well done.
Mt. Vernon competed in eight events Friday night, and in five of them, the Marauders bested their sectional qualifying times. What’s more, one relay team and two individuals, Cole Case and Dixon Tierney, advanced to today’s consolation heats by finishing in the top 16 in their events.
The first-year coach should feel free to pat himself on the back, though he probably won’t.
“To be honest, it’s up to the kids if they want to swim fast or not,” Kruse said. “I try to give them a good plan, but it’s the kids who have to execute. … These guys are just competitive. If they get a chance to hop in the water and race, they’re going to swim fast. Tired or not.”
Despite swimming the sectional Monday, the Marauders looked fresh. So fresh, in fact they did not bother saving their best for last. They got their best out of the way early.
The 200-yard medley relay team of Case, Tierney, Zane Smith and Bryce Gray clocked a 1:36.06, nearly 0.6 seconds better than the New Palestine Sectional milestone they set on Monday.
They finished 11th, the best finish any Marauder team or individual would register on the day.
Tierney followed up the relay with a dazzling performance in the 200-yard individual medley. He came in fourth in his heat by producing a 1:53.73, more than three seconds better than his sectional time.
“All year, Kruse kept telling me sectional is just the first of three steps,” Tierney said afterwards. “So I did well enough to make it to state. That was the first step. Step two was swim fast in prelims and get to Saturday. Now I get to do step three (today).
Case was the final qualifier for the Marauders. He entered Friday as the team’s highest seed at No. 12 in the 100 backstroke, and therefore the most likely to advance.
He did not disappoint. Despite a 14th-place finish overall, he shaved 0.2 seconds of his sectional record-breaking time and moved on to Saturday.
“Live to fight another day,” the senior said. “It’s just feels awesome to be coming back.”
Unfortunately for Mt. Vernon’s Hancock County compatriot, Greenfield-Central, that is not a feeling any of their swimmers will get to experience.
The Cougars went 0-for-5 in their attempts to qualify for Saturday, though they were attempting to overcome much more than opponents in the pool.
The Cougars, coach Mark Logan said, were robbed of a fair fight.
“I think we did well considering half my guys were in a hospital or were sick this week,” Cougars coach Mark Logan said.
Logan explained that Allen Forbes (200 medley relay, 100 backstroke), who was coughing up blood during Monday’s sectionals, swam through a sinus and ear infection. Jared Tomer (200 and 500 freestyle) also had a sinus infection, and Jordan Cermak (200 medley relay, 50 freestyle) was fighting off bronchitis.
The only two state qualifiers who avoided the bug, Logan said, were freshmen Ethan Kile and Zach Cook.
Perhaps not coincidentally, Cook delivered the Cougars’ best performance of the evening. He swam a 51:50 and secured a 19th-place finish in the 100 butterfly. He came within 0.43 seconds of qualifying for today’s consolation heats.
Though frustrated that after so much hard work, many of kids did not get to compete in the biggest event of the year at full strength, Logan knows there is a silver lining. None of his state qualifiers will graduate this year.
“They were a little down immediately after the meet,” Logan said. But now we’re all in good cheer. They all know they have next year. They know where they want to be, and they know the times they need to get there. We just have to get back to work.”
More than 500 swimmers, representing 76 schools, flocked to the IUPUI Natatorium in Indianapolis Friday to compete in the IHSAA boys state championships. Each was competing for the right to swim today in either the consolation or championship heats. Here is a quick recap of how to advance as well as today’s diving information.
The top 16 in each swimming event during Friday’s preliminaries return for competition today. The top eight individuals vie for state championship honors, while those finishing nine through 16 on Friday will make up the competitors in the consolation heats. Racing begins at 1 p.m.
All diving takes place today with the top 20 of 32 competitors advancing from the 9 a.m. prelims to the semis after five dives each. After three dives each in the semis, the top 16 will advance to the final round at 1 p.m. for another three dives each.
Friday results for Hancock County swimmers
200 yard medley relay
11. Mt. Vernon 1:36.06
23. Greenfield-Central 1:39.74
200 yard freestyle
31. Jared Tomer, Greenfield-Central 1:51.29
200 yard individual medley
12. Dixon Tierney, Mt. Vernon 1:53.73
50 yard freestyle
31. Jordan Cermak, Greenfield-Central 22.99
100 yard butterfly
17. Dixon Tierney, Mt. Vernon 51.30
19t. Zach Cook, Greenfield-Central 51.50
100 yard freestyle
25. Cole Case, Mt. Vernon 48.40
500 yard freestyle
30. Jared Tomer, Greenfield-Central 5:01.19
200 yard freestyle relay
30. Mt. Vernon 1:33.05
100 yard backstroke
14. Cole Case, Mt. Vernon 52.07
21. Allen Forbes, Greenfield-Central 53.37
100 yard breaststroke
21. Zane Smith, Mt. Vernon 59.06
400 yard freestyle relay
23. Mt. Vernon 3:17.69