NEW PALESTINE — Connersville won the gold. Greenfield-Central claimed the glory.
Saturday at the New Palestine Sectional, the Cougars acquired their first-ever team championship — without winning a single event.
It was also a story of redemption for two swimmers who will represent Hancock County in Friday’s State Finals at IUPUI Natatorium in Indianapolis.
Mt. Vernon’s Maddie Powell shook off a string of runner-up finishes at past sectional meets to win titles in the 200 individual medley and 100 butterfly. As for New Palestine’s Erin Trimpe, she triumphed in the 100 breaststroke a year after taking second in that event to her older sister.
G-C tallied 395 points in its breakthrough triumph. For the second season in a row, the Marauders (347 points) were second — finishing in the top two for the sixth consecutive year.
Despite winning eight of the 12 events, 2013 champion Connersville took third with 344 points.
New Castle, New Palestine, Centerville, Richmond, Hagerstown, Eastern Hancock and Rushville rounded out places four through 10.
Entering the season, the Cougars were short 2013 seniors Carly Fernandes and Taylor Johnson — a pair of swimmers who garnered nine school records and five sectional crowns between them — off a squad that took fourth at the 2013 sectional.
And three weeks ago at the Hoosier Heritage Conference Meet, G-C didn’t look the part of a sectional contender, finishing sixth.
But Emily Logan knew all along that her group had sectional potential, even if the Cougars didn’t buy what their second-year coach was selling at first.
“At the beginning of the season, we sat down with the girls and said, ‘If you really want to win a sectional title, you guys can go after that.’ I don’t think they really believed it,” Logan said. “They had a winning season as far as their dual record. But not until we got the (sectional) psych sheet and I actually looked at them and said, ‘You guys have a really good chance to pull this off.’ And I said, ‘How many of you really believe this?’ And a couple hands went up.”
It was clear Logan had her team believing Saturday, and she used a familiar strategy from her old job to lead a second school to its initial sectional title.
Back in 2009, Logan guided Mt. Vernon, her alma mater, to its first girls sectional championship. At that meet, the Marauders won just a single event and recorded seven top-3 finishes. Saturday, G-C had no individual or relay victories and picked up six top-3 finishes.
“Those are once in a lifetime things,” Logan said of winning the program’s first sectional. “I’ve explained to them over and over again what that feels like, and for them to get that opportunity and to get that chance for themselves, that’s really special.”
So how did the Cougars end up on top? Quality depth. G-C had 21 girls on its roster Saturday, just one swimmer behind New Palestine for the largest roster. Of the 21 swimmers, 14 recorded at least one top-8 finish.
“They knew they had depth all season long. That’s what they’ve done to win meets,” Logan said. “What I love most is that we didn’t win a single event here today, but we won the whole thing. That is a total team effort, and that’s how you win championships. It was huge for them to come out and lay that foundation and start their own legacy like the boys have done.
“The girls swam out of their minds on Thursday (at prelims) and swam out of their minds (Saturday). They were so ready and so pumped. They had put in the hard work. They trained through conference, but they stayed mentally strong the entire time and there they are at the end of the day.”
Logan owns four of the past six New Palestine Sectional crowns, winning additional championships with MV in 2010 and 2012 before making the move to G-C in June of 2012 with her husband, Mark.
After Tom Moore rebuilt the Cougar boys program and claimed HHC and sectional titles in 2011 and 2012, Mark has kept the juggernaut Cougar boys team running, obtaining a sectional championship last season and winning HHC titles in each of his first two years.
The G-C boys went from doormat to powerhouse by assembling talented, versatile swimmers up and down its high school roster and developing young pool sharks in its youth programs. Emily Logan appears to have done the same with the G-C girls, and only two of the team’s 21 swimmers are seniors.
“We have a lot of young kids on this team. And they’re hungry swimmers. Those freshmen, they are a one-track mind — they just want to swim fast,” Logan said. “This program has got some exciting years ahead because we see what’s coming up through the club in the next couple of years to feed into this group.”
MV’s Powell breaks through
Entering Saturday’s sectional meet, Mt. Vernon senior Maddie Powell owned three second-place finishes at sectional, including back-to-back runner-up placements in the 100 butterfly. At January’s Hoosier Heritage Conference Meet, Powell took second in the 100 butterfly and 200 individual medley.
Saturday, Powell decided she had had enough of being the bridesmaid.
She won the 200 IM in two minutes and 16.64 seconds, over six seconds ahead of New Castle’s Hannah Hawrot. Three events later, Powell outlasted Greenfield-Central freshman Ashley Finney and New Palestine senior Addison Virt to claim the 100 butterfly.
“It was nice to get first,” Powell said of the 100 butterfly victory. “I’ve been second a lot in that event.”
Powell had been to state before, swimming with the 200 medley relay in 2012, but was itching to get back as an individual. She battled a shoulder injury during her junior season, a malady that prevented her from backstroking all season and limited the amount of fly stroke she could do. Following a summer of rehab, Powell was cleared in the backstroke and expanded the amount of fly stroke she could handle.
“It feels good that I get to go in individual events,” Powell said. “I had some injuries last year. I’m happy to be going back.”
The State Finals begin Friday at IUPUI. Powell is seeded 30th in the 200 IM and 36th in the 100 butterfly. The top 16 in each event qualify for Saturday’s championship and consolation finals.
NP’s Trimpe gets her turn
Seventy-five yards into the finals of the 100 breaststroke, New Palestine’s Erin Trimpe was trailing top-seeded Kerrigan Baker of Connersville. Last year, Trimpe found herself in a similar position and wound up losing out on a State Finals spot to her older sister, Emily.
Now, with Emily and her six career sectional crowns competing at Vincennes University (Ind.), Erin found herself in danger of falling just short once again.
But, the junior surged in the final 25 yards to finish in 1:12.63, just ahead of Baker (1:12.99).
“It’s really awesome. I’m excited. I’m happy to be a part of the state meet. It was my goal this year to make it,” Trimpe said, before adding with a laugh: “I settled for second last year.”
Trimpe admitted her State Finals experience is sure to be different on the IUPUI Natatorium pool deck rather than in the stands. Prior to Saturday’s meet, Erin received some encouraging words from Emily that gave her reassurance that her season-long goal could be met.
“I’m nervous, but I’m excited and I guess I’ll just see how it when I get there,” Trimpe said.
Trimpe is seeded 32nd in Friday’s State Finals.
Eastern Hancock qualified three relay teams in Saturday’s final. The 200 freestyle (Shelby Kell, Mara Geisking, Hailey Carlton, Amanda Dickmander) and 400 freestyle (Carlton, Kell, Brittni Fox, Geisking) team each finished ninth, while the 200 medley placed 10th. … Connersville’s Paxtyn Drew broke her own sectional record in the 100 backstroke, and won the 100 freestyle for the fourth straight year. Drew also took the 100 backstroke for the third time; her only loss in that event came to Fernandes in 2012. Drew owns 15 sectional titles. … The Spartans won all three relays for the second year in a row. … Connersville’s Riece Drew won the 200 and 500 freestyle for the second straight season. … Richmond’s Mariam Khamis repeated as the diving champion. … Mt. Vernon’s Laura Cochran was fifth in the diving competition, one spot short of regional qualification. … New Palestine will host the boys sectional championship on Feb. 20 and 22. Greenfield-Central is the three-time defending champion.
Swimming Sectional individual champions advance to State Finals, Friday-Saturday at IUPUI.
200 Yard Medley Relay
1. Connersville 1:52.92
2. Greenfield-Central 1:58.68
3. Mt. Vernon 1:59.83
200 Yard Freestyle
1. Riece Drew, Connersville, 2:00.68
2. Caroline Warner, New Castle, 2:08.83
3. Taylor Young, G-C, 2:09.04
200 Yard Individual Medley
1. Maddie Powell, Mt. Vernon, 2:16.64
2. Hannah Hawrot, New Castle, 2:22.83
3. Hannah Reynolds, G-C, 2:27.24
50 Yard Freestyle
1. Bailie Weiler, Connersville, 24.9
2. Ashley Foster, Centerville, 25.75
3. Tayte Adams, Connersville, 26.40
1. Mariam Khamis, Richmond, 478.05
2. Brooke Madden, Centerville, 471.40
3. Beka Elza, Hagerstown, 361.95
4. Megan Millikan, New Castle, 337.00
100 Yard Butterfly
1. Maddie Powell, Mt. Vernon, 1:01.68
2. Ashley Finney, G-C, 1:03.75
3. Addison Virt, New Palestine, 1:04.95
100 Yard Freestyle
1. Paxtyn Drew, Connersville, 54.13
2. Bailie Weiler, Connersville, 55.34
3. Ashley Foster, Centerville, 56.87
500 Yard Freestyle
1. Riece Drew, Connersville, 5:28.47
2. Haley Moore, Mt. Vernon, 5:41.58
3. Taylor Young, G-C, 5:46.93
200 Yard Freestyle Relay
1. Connersville 1:43.88
2. New Castle 1:46.70
3. New Palestine 1:48.09
100 Yard Backstroke
1. Paxtyn Drew, Connersville, 58.08*
2. Hannah Hawrot, New Castle, 1:04.27
3. Gloria Gonzales, Mt. Vernon, 1:05.28
100 Yard Breaststroke
1. Erin Trimpe, New Palestine, 1:12.63
2. Kerrigan Baker, Connersville, 1:12.99
3. Krista Zornes, G-C, 1:14.26
400 Yard Freestyle Relay
1. Connersville 1:47.42
2. Mt. Vernon 3:55.52
3. New Castle 3:58.25
#Top four advance to diving regional Tuesday at Plainfield
Girls swimming and diving sectional team standings, Saturday at New Palestine.
1. Greenfield-Central 395
2. Mt. Vernon 347
3. Connersville 344
4. New Castle 279
5. New Palestine 262
6. Centerville 175
7. Richmond 165
8. Hagerstown 130
9. Eastern Hancock 50
10. Rushville 46