NEW PALESTINE — After watching the girls squad complete another successful postseason run, Greenfield-Central boys swim coach Mark Logan and his Cougars are anxious to see what the annual state tournament has in store for them as well.
Greenfield-Central, which will be in search of its sixth straight sectional crown, is coming off another memorable season after winning the Hoosier Heritage Conference meet and finishing with a 7-1 record.
Last season at the New Palestine Sectional, the Cougars won the championship with 482 points. Connersville was second with 385 points, while Mt. Vernon was third with 381. New Palestine finished sixth (156) and Eastern Hancock finished in eighth (98).
“It is pretty easy for the guys to get excited about the postseason after watching how well the girls swam,” Logan said. “We are planning for some great swimming and taking a large team to the state meet this year.
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“Our focus has been on getting as many swimmers qualified by bettering the state qualifying time.”
Senior Jared Tomer won the 200- and 500-yard freestyle races last year at the sectional and is seeded first in Saturday’s competition too. Sophomore Ethan Kile, who finished second in the 100 breaststroke last year, is the top seed in the event this season. He is seeded second in the 200 individual medley.
Sophomore Chris Joven, according to Logan, adds depth in multiple events and is due for a competitive meet.
“Unlike most of our top swimmers who started swimming at a younger age, Chris started swimming his eighth grade year in our Fit and Technique group,” Logan said. “Within a year of swimming, he was fourth last year in the 100 freestyle in :49.9, which is fast for any freshman and fifth in the 100 backstroke.”
Also expected to have solid contributions are senior Jordan Cermak (50 and 100 freestyle, relays), sophomore Zach Cook (100 butterfly, relays) and junior Allen Forbes (100 backstroke, relays).
In the diving competition, Greenfield-Central senior Jacob Keener and sophomore Ben Rader, who finished in second and third last year, respectively, could make return trips to regional competition. New Palestine senior Connor Page, who finished sixth last year, could also move on.
And although the Dragons do not have any “heavy hitters,” according to head coach Steve Maxwell, New Palestine should have all the guys back for a second swim on Saturday.
“The New Palestine swimmers and divers are looking forward to this week’s sectional tournament,” Maxwell said. “They feel they have worked well this season and have kept their focus on a strong sectional performance.”
Names to keep an eye on, aside from Page, will be seniors Joseph Rogers and Luke Reed and juniors Chase Crowder and Michael O’Leary.
“While we are realistic that, as a team, we should finish in fifth or sixth, we are going into the meet simply trying to improve our seeded positions and see where that takes us,” Maxwell said. “For New Palestine, a ‘big meet’ will be our guys coming back for Saturday swims, having personal best times, seeing their team exceed expectations or, for the seniors, closing out a career proud of what they’ve accomplished and glad they stayed with it.”
Mt. Vernon won all three relays last season at New Palestine and is expecting standout performances from seniors Dixon Tierney and Matthew Bauchert and junior Bryce Gray.
Tierney and Gray were a part of the first place 400 freestyle relay and 200 medley relay teams last year while Tierney also won the 200 individual medley and finished second in 100 butterfly.
Gray was third in the 200 individual medley last year and fourth in the 100 backstroke.
Bauchert finished second in the 50 freestyle and teamed with sophomore Timmy Broaders and two others who graduated to win the 200 freestyle relay.
For Eastern Hancock, which saw the girls team score over 100 points for the first time in school history at the sectional meet, head coach Derek McCormick is expecting a similar finish from his boys team this weekend.
However, with only five boys on the team, the challenge will be mighty, to say the least.
“For the boys, we are looking to accomplish our season goals we set back in October,” McCormick said. “We are very limited on the variation we can make to the lineup, as well as the poor swims we can have. We are looking for all five boys to score in an individual event and have both of our relays swim in the top eight.
“One of our major goals as a team was to score over a 100 points. To many, that may seem impossible with five boys, but we are looking at it as a challenge.”
Sophomore Chris Walton, who owns almost every school record at Eastern Hancock, is expected to lead the Royals this weekend. At the sectional last year, he finished 15th in the 500 freestyle and 16th in the 100 backstroke.
“I am looking for Chris to be our leader and score top eight in both of his events (500 free and 100 back),” McCormick said. “Right now he is practicing well and putting the final touches on some race strategies.
“After looking through the psych sheet, there are definitely some areas where some of my guys can move up if they swim smart.”
Who: Centerville, Connersville, Eastern Hancock, Greenfield-Central, Hagerstown, Mt. Vernon, New Castle, New Palestine, Richmond, Rushville Consolidated.
When: Swim preliminaries today at 5:30 p.m. at New Palestine, Saturday dive preliminaries at 9 a.m. followed by swim and dive finals at 1 p.m. at New Palestine.
Advancement: First place sectional winners in each swim event will qualify for the state meet. Any contestant who equals or betters the state time standard in their respective event will also qualify. First through fourth place sectional winners will qualify for the diving regional.