INDIANAPOLIS — At least they went down swinging.
That was the message Mt. Vernon boys swimming coach Matt Kruse conveyed after his Marauders 200-yard medley relay team of Dixon Tierney, Cole Case, Bryce Gray and Zane Smith was disqualified in the opening event of Saturday’s IHSAA Boys Swimming and Diving State Finals at the IUPUI Natatorium.
With Mt. Vernon competing in just three consolation races, there was no team title to consider, so Kruse told the relay team to be extra aggressive.
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“We had nothing to lose,” the first-year coach said after one of his swimmers jumped into the pool too early during an exchange. “We were trying to go for it and push the boundaries. Why not? We had nothing to lose. We just pushed it a little too much.”
Unfortunately for the Marauders, they lost out on what would have been a 12th-place finish and 10 points added to their final team score. With those additional points, Mt. Vernon would have tied for 27th with 17 points. Instead, they had to settle for seven points and a 39th-place finish (out of 76 schools).
The differential meant little to Kruse.
“Sure it’s not what you want, but it was last swim: Go for it,” he said. “I’m not disappointed at all.”
On the plus side, the Marauders did not have to wait long for retribution. Just two events later, Tierney, a junior, swam to a 12th-place finish in the 200 individual medley (1 minute, 54.27 seconds), 19 spots and nearly three seconds better than his performance last season.
“I think Dixon still has a lot more left in the tank,” Kruse said. “But that was probably the swim of the day for Mt. Vernon.”
Case wrapped up the Marauders’ events with a 15th-place finish in the 100 backstroke (53.01).
It was not the way the senior swimmer had hoped to end his Marauders career but, he said, he will never forget or fail to appreciate his ascent from average high school swimmer to one of the state’s best.
“It’s really opened my eyes to what I can do,” said Case, who has aspirations of swimming in college. “I’ve attained things I never thought were possible. Being here was a big confidence booster.”
Diver finishes 22nd
The Cougars’ Jacob Keener totaled 151.25 points in five dives during Saturday morning’s diving preliminaries, finishing 22nd overall. The junior came up just 11.05 points shy of qualifying for three more dives in the semifinals.
Homestead’s Kevin Frebel won the state championship with 568.65 points. New Palestine Sectional winner Ike Khamis of Richmond finished third with 448.75 points.
It was the second straight season Greenfield-Central has sent a diver to state. Nathan Graber, a 2014 graduate and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology athlete, finished 14th overall last year with 397.25 points.
The year to come
The Greenfield-Central boys were unable to advance any swimmers to Saturday’s state finals, but that does not mean coach Mark Logan was not keeping tabs with an eye on next season.
While at a middle school conference swimming meet, the Cougars coach watched the day unfold on his phone via the IHSAA webstream, closely studying times, technique and training paces.
He said he was paying particular attention to the 100 backstroke, 100 breaststroke, the 400 free relay and the 100 butterfly.
At least two of those events should come as no surprise to Cougars fans, as Zach Cook and Allen Forbes registered state finals appearances in them.
Forbes was one of just nine underclassmen to qualify for the state finals (in Friday’s preliminaries) in the 100 backstroke, while Cook was one of only two freshman to make it in the 100 butterfly. Greenfield-Central will not graduate any state qualifiers from this year’s team.
Those facts give Logan, whose Cougars have not had an individual swimmer compete on Saturday during his brief tenure, hope for next year.
The Marauders are not in as good a position as the Cougars. They will lose state qualifiers Case and Smith to graduation.
Kruse admits the pair will be difficult to replace, but he expects there will be Marauders ready to answer the call. He cited freshmen Tim Broaders and Brisco Wood (returning from injury) as athletes to look out for.
“Those guys (Case and Smith) are the backbone of the medley relay, so that will be hard to replace,” Kruse said. “But I expect to be back here next year. We should be just as strong, if not stronger, next season.”
Around the state
With 253.50 points, Carmel cruised to its state-leading 15th team championship and fourth in seven years. Despite their recent dominance, the boys still have a long ways to go to catch their female counterparts, who claimed their 29th straight title two weeks ago to tie a national high school record.
Zionsville notched state runner-up honors with 176 points. Senior Kyle DeCoursey led the Eagles with three state championships swims (50 freestyle, 100 freestyle, 400 freestyle relay). His 50 freestyle title was his second in as many years. The honor came a day after he set the new state record (20.08) in the event.
Bloomington South’s Ian Finnerty was the only other swimmer to break a state milestone during the two-day event. His 53.23 is now the benchmark in the 100 breaststroke.
Avon followed the Eagles in third place with 167 points, while Brownsburg (129) and Fort Wayne Carroll (126.5) rounded out the top five.
Zionsville, Brownsburg and Carroll each posted their school’s best finish ever in the state meet.
Hamilton Southeastern’s Joe Young received this year’s mental attitude award. Each year the IHSAA Executive Committee selects a senior who was nominated by his principal and coach and was determined to have best demonstrated mental attitude, scholarship, leadership and athletic ability.
The committee presented $1,000 to Hamilton Southeastern’s general scholarship fund in the name of Young.
On Saturday, the top 16 performers from Friday’s preliminary events returned to the IUPUI Natatorium Saturday to compete in the consolation and championship heats. The top eight raced for the state tile, while nine through 16 swam in the consolation heat. Here are the results from Saturday’s events.
Final team results:
1. Carmel 253.50
2. Zionsville 176
3. Avon 167
39. Mt. Vernon 7
200 yard medley relay
1. Carmel 1:32.30
DQ Mt. Vernon (1:36.87)
200 yard freestyle
1. Parks Jones, Avon 1:31.81
200 yard individual medley
1. Ian Finnerty, Bloomington South, 1:45.71
12. Dixon Tierney, Mt. Vernon 1.54.27
50 yard freestyle
1. Kyle DeCoursey, Zionsville 20.30
1. Kevin Frebel, Homestead 568.65 (11 dives)
22. Jacob Keener, Greenfield-Central 151.25 (5 dives)
100 yard butterfly
1. Gabriel Swardson, Fort Wayne Snider, 49.14
100 yard freestyle
1. Kyle DeCoursey, Zionsville 44.70
500 yard freestyle
1. Mike Brinegar, Columbus North 4:24.92
200 freestyle relay
1. Brownsburg 1:24.20
100 yard backstroke
1. Wilson Beckman, Munster 49.21
15. Cole Case, Mt. Vernon 53.01
100 yard breaststroke
1. Ian Finnerty, Bloomington South 53.19#
400 yard freestyle relay
1. Zionsville, 3:03.55
# State record