INDIANAPOLIS — Floating on his back with a smile pointed toward the sky, Greenfield-Central junior Zach Cook was unsure of what to do next.
After topping the 100-yard butterfly field Saturday at the IUPUI Natatorium, Cook began his routine cool-down lap with little celebration. What do you do after winning the program’s first state title? Cook didn’t have a clue.
Greenfield-Central’s supporters knew the answer.
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“I looked up at the athletic director from our school (Jared Manning), and he was really happy,” Cook said, who also heard a roar from the Cougars’ fan section. “I didn’t know what to do, it was just so exciting.”
Cook entered the entire meet seeded third but was second moving into the state championship final. Half of a second separated the top-three swimmers in Saturday’s championship race with Bloomington South’s Matthew Jerden clocking the fastest preliminary time.
However, with quick, rhythmic strokes and a promising underwater start, Cook led the whole race and finished in 48.60 — a new personal best and school record. Jurden was second in 48.97.
“(Cook) had a great split in the medley relay, so I knew he was going to be on,” Greenfield-Central head coach Mark Logan said. “His transition, from underwater to his first stroke, (was good). You want to focus on a smooth transition.”
One day earlier, Logan noted Saturday’s final would come down to who would recover the best with one night of rest. It was Cook who proved to have more energy, but the senior said his sharp turns on each wall made a considerable difference, too.
“I would either choke on the wall or be too far away,” Cook said of his issues with turns earlier in the season. “I have had a lot of experience in that pool, which was helpful.”
The 200-yard medley relay team of Cook, senior Allen Forbes and juniors Ethan Kile and Christopher Joven (fifth overall) produced the first of three top-five finishes for the Cougars over the weekend. Cook was also fifth in the 100-yard backstroke — the same spot he finished last season.
His leg in the 200-yard medley relay, however, served as a tune-up for his signature event.
“That was such a great start, we were fired up,” Cook said. “It definitely gets me ready (for 100 butterfly), being with the team before in the relay is motivating.”
Greenfield-Central piled up 107 points to place ninth overall, which was the best finish in school history. Carmel won the meet with 359 points, while Zionsville was second with 229. Fishers was right in front of the Cougars with 111 points.
Despite his win, Cook may have been more excited for Joven’s individual placement in the 100-yard freestyle. Joven is often one of Cook’s training partners in practice. Joven finished sixth overall after missing the 50-yard freestyle final on Friday by .01.
“We went back and forth pushing each other all season (in practice sets),” Cook said. “I was so excited for (Joven’s finish), I actually kept blabbering on about it.”
In the final event, Cook helped the 400-yard freestyle relay team finish in ninth after winning the consolation final. Their time would have been good enough for eighth overall had they made the “A” final cut.
After the 100-yard butterfly, though, Cook spoke with Jerden, a close swim friend, about the race and his future. Jerden, a senior, is attending Indiana University next year. The Hoosiers, who recently won a Big Ten Championship, are also on Cook’s radar, he said.
“I was really happy for him, we congratulated each other after and caught up,” Cook said after swimming in his third-career state meet.
Greenfield-Central at State
200 Medley Relay: 5th (Cook, Joven, Kile, Forbes) 1:34.22
50 Free: Christopher Joven (9th) 21.09
Diving: Ben Rader (16th) 392.30
100 Butterfly: Zach Cook (1st) 48.60
100 Free: Christopher Joven (6th) 46.32
100 Back: Zach Cook (5th) 50.81, Allen Forbes (15th) 52.90
400 Free Relay: 9th (Cook, Joven, Kile, Forbes) 3:09.02
1. Carmel, 359
2. Zionsville, 229
3. Chesterton, 205
4. Bloomington South, 148
5. Northridge, 145
6. Homestead, 140
7. Carroll (Fort Wayne), 128
8. Fishers, 111
9. Greenfield-Central, 107
10. Franklin Community, 102