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G-C swimmers fast when it matters most


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INDIANAPOLIS — For three Greenfield-Central seniors, their upcoming race in heat three, lane seven of the 400 freestyle relay was potentially the last time they would represent the blue and gold.

And since the Cougars missed out on advancing to the championship round of the boys swimming state finals in their preceding six events Friday night, the 400 free relay was the last opportunity for G-C to extend its streak of Saturday appearances at the state finals to three years in a row.

So, in Bailey Willoughby’s terms, he and his fellow relay mates Patrick Stutz, Cody Wilburn and junior Drew Logan “got their minds together” and ended up saving their best for last, lowering their school record from 3:14.75 to 3:13.68, good enough for an 11th-place finish and a slot in the ‘B’ final today.

Places one through eight qualify for the championship round or ‘A’ final. Nine through 16 make the consolation or ‘B’ finals.

“We knew it was our last chance to make it to (today), so we had to put it all on the line,” said Willoughby, set to swim at Franklin College next year. “I think we accomplished that.”

Asked what the relay’s goal was for the consolation final, Willoughby — who also placed 21st in the 100 backstroke and lowered his G-C record — was straightforward.

“Swim fast,” he said with smirk.

The state swimming finals are as taxing mentally as they are physically for the teenagers that race up and down the one million gallons of water that consume the main competition pool at IUPUI Natatorium.

Stutz, who was making his fourth trip to state but swimming in individual races for the first time, confessed to feeling the pressure Friday night in the 50 and 100 freestyle.

“I tried to clear my mind before my race, but I felt like I still kind of psyched myself out. I was intimidated going in,” explained Stutz, who tied for 19th in the 50 and placed 18th in the 100 — .06 away from 16th. “With the sprint freestyle events, there’s really no room for error. I gained time in both my events.

“It was pretty disappointing, but I was glad we were able to finish with a relay that makes it back to (today).

The Cougars began their night in the 200 medley relay. Willoughby, Stutz, Josh Cummins and Wilburn were seeded 23rd, but were hopeful for a top-16 finish.

The senior quartet clocked in at 1:38.39 and placed 17th, .14 short of 16th and .07 off the sectional record it established last Saturday at New Palestine.

Though that mark was barely behind the sectional record, Wilburn — who first appeared at state in 2012 with the 200 and 400 freestyle relays — counted himself “bummed” after the 200 medley, but the relay specialist managed to turn his frown upside down for the 400 free relay.

“Toward the end of the meet I just stopped thinking about it. I got in the water, warmed up for my last relay and felt great,” Wilburn offered. “I just went out and gave it my all. Now we’re coming back and it feels great.”

The only non-senior member of G-C’s contingent, Logan claimed the school record in the 500 freestyle (4:56.36) despite fighting illness for the past week and a half.

“It feels great,” Logan said of his feat in the 500 freestyle. “I feel like all the hard work paid off.”

Greenfield-Central wasn’t the only Hancock County school to compete Friday, as New Palestine’s Grant Gish realized a long-held goal of reaching the state finals as an individual.

Gish, who had previously raced with the 200 and 400 freestyle relays as a freshman in 2011, placed 29th in the 200 freestyle.

“Grant was positive about his performance and truly enjoyed the opportunity to swim on such a stage,” NP coach Steve Maxwell said. “He is already looking forward to his chance to return to state next season, and has more defined plans on what he wants to do when he returns.”

Gish cited smoother streamlines — the act of a swimmer pushing off a wall and staying underwater as long as possible — as the primary cause of his success this season.

The junior has additional upgrades in mind for his final go-around with the Dragons next winter.

“I want to work on starting races faster. I was a little tentative this year,” Gish noted. “Part of that is getting my strength up for better endurance.”

Cummins, Stutz, Wilburn and Willoughby represent the core of the senior class that will leave behind a streak of three straight Hoosier Heritage Conference championships and three consecutive sectional titles. They’ve also combined for nine trips to state.

Afterwards, the foursome spent as much time talking about the future of the program as they did recalling its past.

“I feel as a team, we’re growing to the point where coming to state feels natural,” added Cummins, who finished 19th in the 100 butterfly Friday. “As the years progress, more of our underclassmen should just feel more and more comfortable here, and we should actually get more people to score higher.”

Cummins, Stutz, Wilburn and Willoughby will depart having broken seven school records, one HHC meet mark and four sectional records.

“When we first came here as freshmen, we would look up at the records and say, ‘Those records are untouchable. They’re so fast, we could never get to that,’” Wilburn revealed. “But we’ve got a lot faster.

“Now our underclassmen, they’re even better than we were when we were young. They’ve got a lot of potential.”

First-year G-C coach Mark Logan dyed his sideburns and the tip of his hair blonde back on Feb. 14 for sectional prelims — he even dyed those same areas blue for the sectional finals because some parents mistook his blonde hair for his forehead — in a show of solidarity with his team.

Logan called the seniors “a pleasure to coach all season long,” adding he didn’t mind his new haircut — Logan was only disappointed that his blonde streaks didn’t get rid of his grey patches.

“I really didn’t have expectations coming in, because when you’re working with new kids and a new training philosophy, you don’t even know how they’re going to respond,” Logan said of his seniors. “They made the decision that they were going to make this the best year for them. And we talked about leaving a legacy.

“This is for them — it’s not about me. They’ve raised the bar for those underclassmen, not to say, ‘We’re great,’ but, ‘We did this, you can do it too.’”

Stutz fastened a bow on the night by recounting the journey taken by the 2013 seniors.

“We’ve had a large group of seniors this year and the past four years have been a roller coaster. New coaches come in, new pool — so many changes that we had to adapt to,” he said. “I think we responded really well and we made so much progress in the past four years.

“It’s been a really successful four years and a season to remember.”

Notes: Cummins, Stutz and Wilburn are undecided about their college swimming plans. … Chesterton’s Aaron Whitaker set state records in the 100 butterfly, 100 backstroke as well as swimming the anchor leg for the 400 freestyle team that eclipsed the state mark.

***

Swim Standouts

A career recap of Hancock County’s six swim state finalists.

Greenfield-Central

Patrick Stutz, senior

School records (4)

-200 medley relay, 1:38.32

-50 freestyle, 21.46

-100 freestyle, 47.41

-400 freestyle relay, 3:13.68

Hoosier Heritage Conference Meet Wins (8)

2013: 200 medley relay; 100 freestyle; 200 freestyle relay; 400 freestyle relay, new record time of 3:17.32

2012: 200 freestyle relay; 400 free relay

2011: 200 freestyle relay

2010: 200 freestyle relay

Sectional Wins (8)

2013: 200 medley relay, new record time of 1:38.32; 50 freestyle; 100 freestyle; 400 freestyle relay, new record time of 3:14.75

2012: 200 freestyle relay; 400 freestyle relay in record time of 3:15.71

2011: 200 freestyle relay in new record time of 1:28.38

2010: 200 freestyle relay

State Finals

2013: 17th in 200 medley relay; tied for 19th in 50 freestyle; 18th in 100 freestyle; 11th in 400 freestyle relay*

2012: 11th in 200 freestyle relay; 17th in 400 freestyle relay

2011: 12th in 200 freestyle relay

2010: 200 freestyle relay (disqualified)

 

Drew Logan, junior

School Records (2)

-500 freestyle, 4:56.36

-400 freestyle relay, 3:13.68

Hoosier Heritage Conference Wins (4)

2013: 200 freestyle; 500 freestyle; 200 freestyle relay; 400 freestyle relay, new record time of 3:13.68

Sectional Wins (2)

2013: 500 freestyle; 400 freestyle relay, new record time of 3:14.75

State Finals

2013: 27th in 500 freestyle; 11th in 400 freestyle relay*

Cody Wilburn, senior

School Records (2)

-200 medley relay, 1:38.32

-400 freestyle relay, 3:13.68

Hoosier Heritage Conference Meet Wins (5)

2013: 200 medley relay; 200 freestyle relay; 400 freestyle relay, new record time of 3:17.32

2012: 200 freestyle relay; 400 freestyle relay

Sectional Wins (4)

2013: 200 medley relay, new record time of 1:38.32; 400 freestyle relay, new record time of 3:14.75

2012: 200 freestyle relay; 400 freestyle relay in record time of 3:15.71

State Finals

2013: 17th in 200 medley relay; 11th in 400 freestyle relay*

2012: 11th in 200 freestyle relay; 17th in 400 freestyle relay

 

Josh Cummins, senior

School Records (2)

-200 medley relay, 1:38.32

-100 butterfly, 51.97

Hoosier Heritage Conference Meet Wins (4)

2013: 200 medley relay; 100 butterfly; 200 freestyle relay

2012: 200 medley relay

Sectional Wins (2)

2013: 200 medley relay, new record time of 1:38.32

2012: 200 medley relay in record time of 1:39.62

State Finals

2013: 17th in 200 medley relay; 19th in 100 butterfly

2012: 25th in 200 medley relay

 

Bailey Willoughby, senior

School Records (4)

-200 medley relay, 1:38.32

-200 individual medley, 1:58.99

-100 backstroke, 53.74

-400 freestyle relay, 3:13.68

Hoosier Heritage Conference Meet Wins (5)

2013: 200 medley relay; 200 individual medley; 100 backstroke; 400 freestyle relay, new record time of 3:17.32

2012: 200 medley relay

Sectional Wins (3)

2013: 200 medley relay, new record time of 1:38.32; 100 backstroke, new record time of 53.76; 400 freestyle relay, new record time of 3:14.75.

State Finals

2013: 17th in 200 medley relay; 21st in 100 backstroke; 11th in 400 freestyle relay*

 

New Palestine

Grant Gish, junior

School Records (3)

-200 freestyle, 1:47.01

-200 freestyle relay, 1:29.19

-400 freestyle relay, 3:19.07

Hoosier Heritage Conference Meet Wins (1)

2011: 100 freestyle

Sectional Wins (2)

2013: 200 freestyle

2011: 400 freestyle relay

State Finals

2013: 29th in 200 freestyle

2011: 26th in 200 freestyle relay**; 28th in 400 freestyle relay

*Not final placement. 400 freestyle relay competes today in the consolation finals.

**The 200 free relay was “picked-up,” meaning it didn’t win sectional or make the state standard time, but was fast enough to fill out the required 32 slots at state.

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