NEW PALESTINE — It would be easy to become complacent after winning five sectional titles in a row. What’s left in the tank after a half decade of sheer dominance?
Apparently for Greenfield-Central’s boys swim team, the Cougars still had much to prove Saturday afternoon at the New Palestine Sectional.
Behind seven school marks and four sectional records, Greenfield-Central ran away with its sixth straight sectional championship, scoring a program record 506 points on its way — 138 ahead of the next team.
Connersville finished second with 368 points while Mt. Vernon was third with 306. New Palestine was just edged by Richmond 264-263 and finished fifth after a solid day in the pool as Eastern Hancock totaled 89 points and placed eighth.
For the Cougars, six individuals move on to the state finals including all three relays teams. Divers Ben Rader (second) and Jacob Keener (third) will compete today in regional action for a chance to make the state finals this weekend at IUPUI.
“That’s what we talk about, everyone getting better,” head coach Mark Logan said. “It will take us to where we want to go. And that’s the state level, a top-10 team finish is the goal.”
Senior Jordan Cermak, sophomore Zach Cook and junior Allen Forbes each qualified for state in four separate events. Cermak won the 50- and 100-yard (school record) freestyles while Cook won the 100 backstroke and 100 butterfly — setting new school and sectional marks.
The trio paired with Christopher Joven to win the 400 freestyle relay (program, sectional record) while Forbes will also compete at state in the 100 backstroke after finishing second. The three also teamed with Ethan Kile to win the 200 medley relay, also in record time for both the program and sectional.
Cermak even missed the first two weeks of the season after having his appendix removed two days before it started.
Kile took first in the 100 breaststroke (team record) and joined with Austin Payne, Forbes and Joven to finish second in the 200 freestyle relay. They advanced to the state finals. Kile also finished second in the 200 individual medley while setting a new school record.
For Mt. Vernon, senior Dixon Tierney, who battled sickness most of the week, will make his third straight trip to the state finals after qualifying in two events. He won the 200 individual medley and was a part of the winning 200 freestyle relay (sectional record) team with Matt Bauchert, Bryce Gray and Tim Broaders.
The 400 freestyle relay team, with the same individuals, set a new school record, as well, but finished in second behind Greenfield-Central by .41 of a second.
“I think everything went pretty smoothly,” said Tierney, who also finished second in the 100 butterfly. “We just wanted to make sure I was rested enough to make state cuts. It’s looking really good for me, especially with being sick this week, to get some top-eight times at state.”
Gray added a second place finish in the 100 freestyle and placed fourth in the 50 freestyle. Bauchert was fourth and fifth in the 100 and 50 freestyles, respectively.
Jordan Spearman was ninth in diving for the Marauders.
The host Dragons beat personal times left and right en route to a much better than expected day, said head coach Steve Maxwell.
“We had an amazing Thursday of prelims, swims that were just unexpected,” Maxwell said. “We came back today and improved every swim, every relay split except one individual swim. I was shocked. There were swims out of kids I just couldn’t explain.”
New Palestine finished in fifth in all three relays and was led by Joey Rodgers’ third-place finish in the 100 backstroke. He also placed fourth in the 100 butterfly.
Teammate Connor Page, who heads to Anderson University next season, finished fifth in the diving competition with 304.55 points. Carter Stephenson placed just behind him in seventh.
Matt Taylor-Smith was sixth in the 200 freestyle to pace the Dragons.
Eastern Hancock just missed scoring 100 points in the meet for the first time in school history but left head coach Derek McCormick, who started the program’s first swim club last summer, ecstatic about the future.
The Royals set five school records.
“We put up one heck of a fight considering we only had five boys competing,” McCormick said.
The team set records in the 200 and 400 freestyle relays while Chris Walton broke program marks in the 500 freestyle (seventh place) and 100 backstroke (fifth place).
Jacob Stacy also set a school record in the 100 freestyle. He teamed with Walton, Elijah Harris and Lane Coffin in the relay victories.