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Hoosier Heritage Conference Swim Meet Preview

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Saturday, 11 a.m.

(prelims were Thursday)

at New Palestine

2013 boys results:

1. Greenfield-Central 450.5

2. Mt. Vernon 306.5

3. Pendleton Heights 305

4. Yorktown 295

5. Delta 287

6. Shelbyville 221

7. New Palestine 162

8. Rushville 22*

2013 girls results:

1. Yorktown 393

2. Mt. Vernon 353

3. Pendleton Heights 330

4. New Palestine 319

5. Delta 244

6. Greenfield-Central 232

7. Shelbyville 126

8. Rushville 74*

*No longer in HHC;

replaced by New Castle



Relays key to G-C boys’ dominance

In losing Bailey Willoughby, Josh Cummins and Patrick Stutz, the Cougars are without four individual wins from last season’s Hoosier Heritage Conference Meet. And going into Saturday’s competition, Greenfield-Central has a top two seed in just one of those vacated event wins.

Cause for concern? Not exactly. G-C is still the heavy favorite to claim its fourth straight conference meet crown. The Cougars have prevailed in the past three HHC gatherings by 54.5, 186 and 144 points. In the first win to begin its HHC rein in 2011, Greenfield-Central won just a single race. The next year, the Cougars won seven events and finished in the top three of all but one race, so they’ve proven they can win with different approaches.

Coach Mark Logan’s crew is especially proficient in the relays — the blue-and-gold haven’t lost a relay at the conference meet since 2011 and have won five of six relay races at the past two sectional meets. G-C has reloaded again this year, as all three of its relays are state-ranked and seeded first headed into Saturday.

Emphasizing the relays is something any swim coach does — placing in the top eight is worth twice as many points as finishing in the top eight of an individual event at the HHC Meet — but Logan is afforded certain luxuries when constructing his relay lineups.

 “The relays are definitely important. Winning a relay gets you extra points, so it’s definitely taken into heavy consideration. Conference is a good warm-up for sectionals. We get to try out different combinations and see what the best one is,” said Logan, whose 400 freestyle relay of Willoughby, Stutz, Drew Logan and Cody Wilburn set the HHC Meet record last season. “Our depth allows us to put guys in three relays and one individual event and come out well. It’s definitely something we talk about and think about.”

The Cougars also boast the returning 1-meter diving champ in Nathan Graber. Graber will be pushed by Pendleton Heights’ Dylan McCammon, who finished second last winter, and by teammate Jacob Keener, who is fresh off a runner-up finish at the Bloomington North Diving Invitational Saturday.

Logan said Graber recently tweaked his shoulder and was held out of Saturday’s competition, but said the senior will be ready to go for diving and swimming duty this weekend after competing in Tuesday’s dual meet with New Palestine.

“For the divers, conference is especially important because it’s their last chance to do an 11-dive lineup before sectional,” said Logan, who added that he’s been happy with Keener’s results this season. “I’d say the conference meet is more important to divers. They’ll need to figure out which dives they need to work on and adjust to the feel of an 11-dive event.”

Girls’ sectionals are Feb. 6-8 while boys’ sectionals are Feb. 20-22.

With Willoughby, Cummins, Stutz and Wilburn gone, look for freshmen Allen Forbes; sophomores Jordan Cermak, Justin Miller and Isaak Tow; and seniors A.J. Shelton and Spencer Young to combine with the aforementioned Graber, Logan and Keener in leading Greenfield-Central to another comfortable victory.

Saturday is an opportunity for the next generation of Cougars to continue the program’s recent streak of excellence.

“We just keep developing and improving those guys,” Logan said. “Every year it’s a little different makeup, but they rise to the challenge and we’ve seen great improvement. It’s fun to see.”

As for the G-C girls, they’ll look to improve upon a sixth-place finish last year with a very young outfit — 14 of the team’s 29 swimmers are freshmen.

The unit’s best chances to win could come in the 500 freestyle, where Taylor Young is seeded second. Krista Zornes and the 200 medley relay are both seeded third.

Marauders bond in Buckeye State

Over past winter breaks, the Mt. Vernon swimming and diving team has traveled to either Indiana or Purdue for a two-day field trip. MV coach Tom Shaver considers the yearly sojourn half-business, half-fun as the Marauders mix intense training with team bonding.

With IU and Purdue both unavailable this winter, Shaver picked out Ohio State as the destination this season. After a morning practice back on Dec. 27, Shaver and the boys team traveled to Columbus, Ohio. They checked into the Blackwell Hotel on the OSU campus, practiced at McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion and ended the day by going out for pizza and laser tag. On the morning of the 28th, Mt. Vernon again practiced at McCorkle, then left for Fortville. It went straight to the pool and practiced with the girls team.

Shaver repeated the process Jan. 3-4 with the girls team.

“It’s a rough two days training-wise, but it’s a memorable experience,” Shaver said.

The Marauder boys will try to parlay their adventures in the Buckeye State — Shaver said some of the boys snuck into Ohio Stadium, the 102,329-seat home of the Ohio State football team, and snapped some photos — into a third straight runner-up finish at the Hoosier Heritage Conference Meet Saturday.

Overtaking Greenfield-Central is probably too much to ask — the Cougars are too deep — but MV should again challenge for second.

The Marauders sport a trio of No. 1 seeds — sophomore Dixon Tierney in the 200 individual medley, freshman Ethan Park in the 100 freestyle and junior Cole Case in the 100 backstroke.

Tierney recorded a pair of runner-up finishes in the 200 IM and 100 butterfly at the 2013 conference meet, while Case was second in the 100 backstroke. All three are also on the roster of the second-seeded 200 medley relay.

In the team’s past four dual meets, Park has won a pair of individual events each time.

“I’m not surprised because I’ve seen the kids come up through the middle school program and the club teams, and so, when Ethan got into the pool at the beginning of the high school season, I knew immediately he was going to be a force to be reckoned with,” Shaver said of his underclassmen, particularly Park. “Dixon and Cole, their sights are set high for the medley relay team.”

The Mt. Vernon girls are searching for their first HHC crown since 2010, and for the second year in a row, are without a No. 1 seed. No matter, the Marauders are built on depth, and will use that strategy to attempt to unseat Yorktown, the two-time conference champions.

Maddie Powell (third in 200 IM, second in 100 butterfly), Haley Moore (second in 50, 100 freestyle) and Gloria Gonzales (third in 200 freestyle) lead MV’s top-seeded individuals.

Shaver, in this second season heading the black-and-gold girls swim program, has made some adjustments after last season’s HHC meet.

“Last year with the girls, I don’t know that I did a great job getting them prepared for conference or sectional. The boys have done well at conference and sectional, and last year was no exception,” he said. “I have changed things up a little bit this year so that the girls will have a better opportunity to perform well.”

Young Dragons realistic about expectations

In the days leading up to the Hoosier Heritage Conference Meet, Steve Maxwell was happy at work setting up for seven other schools to invade New Palestine Natatorium.

At the same time, the veteran Dragon coach couldn’t help but be a bit miffed at Mother Nature for the way she’s wrecked his practice schedule over the past two weeks. Over a recent 13-day period, NP was able to train just twice.

“I’m frustrated by our training the last couple of weeks — or lack thereof. It’s going to impact some kids,” Maxwell said. “If you were an erratic workout kid and lost all that time, it’s going play havoc.”

All three Hancock County schools obviously prioritize the sectional meet because of the state meet advancement that’s directly tied to the event, but each of the programs value the HHC Meet differently. For example, the Dragons would love to walk away with a pair of team titles and a horde of individual victories, but Maxwell has traditionally placed less of an emphasis on the conference gathering in order for his swimmers to get all of their ducks in a row prior to sectional. That’s especially true this year.

Realistically, NP stands little chance of claiming the boys or girls crown. Talent isn’t the problem; it’s the youth on both squads and the training chaos.

“A lot of it is that we’re young. We have a lot of freshmen and sophomores. There’s not a lot of maturity,” Maxwell said of his squad, which has 23 underclassmen between the boys and girls teams. “I think we’ll do well for our boys and our girls, and they’re going to be competitive in the overall sense.”

Two-time state qualifier Gran Gish paces the Dragon boys. The senior is seeded second in the 200 freestyle, the event he won at last winter’s sectional, behind Greenfield-Central’s Drew Logan. Gish is also seeded second in the 100 freestyle behind Mt. Vernon’s Ethan Park. The qualifying times of top five seeds in the 100 freestyle are separated by just 1.66 seconds.

Emily Trimpe headlines the NP girls with a No. 2 seed in the 100 breaststroke.


Returning individual champions:

Lauren Elston, Yorktown, women’s 200 freestyle

Drew Logan, Greenfield-Central, men’s 200 freestyle

Taylor Fiew, Pendleton Heights, women’s 1-meter diving

Nathan Graber, Greenfield-Central, men’s’ 1-meter diving

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