Champions Again: Mt. Vernon wins sectional for second straight year

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Mt. Vernon’s Brady Gray is lifted atop by his teammates after Mt. Vernon captured the IHSAA boys swimming and diving sectional title on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2022.

Tom Russo | Daily Reporter

NEW PALESTINE — After waiting 16 years between sectional titles, Mt. Vernon is now a back-to-back champion of the New Palestine Boys Swimming and Diving Sectional.

Led by champions in seven events, Mt. Vernon scored 348 points to finish ahead of its closest competitor, New Palestine, which wrapped up the day with 294, Saturday inside the New Palestine High School Natatorium.

“It’s a huge feat to go two years in a row with graduating the senior class that we had. Those boys were fantastic and paved the way,” Mt. Vernon coach Brad Grieshop said. “These boys fought from beginning to end. There wasn’t one swim where we didn’t improve in either time or place. It was a total team effort today to retain the title.”

Last year’s team was led by a senior class that included Aiden Tierney, the state runner-up in the 100-yard breaststroke.

This time the Marauders were led by a trio of juniors, Matthew Garey, Brady Gray and Ethan Murphy.

Garey and Gray won two individual events. Murphy won one. All three were part of two victorious relay teams.

Garey took top honors in the 200 IM and 500 freestyle.

The longest race of the day was one of the closest and most exciting.

Garey touched the wall in 4:54.23, edging Shelbyville’s Tyler Harker, who finished in 4:55.15.

“It didn’t disappoint today. I think that was, by far, the race of the meet,” Grieshop said. “We haven’t seen a 500 that close since I’ve been here. To see two kids just fight and not give up. My hats off to both Matthew and Tyler Harker.”

“The race strategy going in was about the same, but towards the end (Harker) wasn’t letting go,” Garey said. “It was a really good race. I gave it all I had on the last 100 and I just ended up touching first. The confidence was really high after that.”

Garey won the 200 IM earlier in the meet with a time of 1:58.70.

Sprinter Gray swept the 50 and 100 freestyle races, winning the 50 in 21.59 seconds and the 100 in 48 seconds flat.

“It’s a very special thing,” Gray said of winning back-to-back sectional team titles. “This year we were able to do it with fans here. There was a lot more energy than last year that we were able to go off of.”

Murphy added his victory in the 100 backstroke with a time of 56.94 seconds.

Senior Jack Champion joined the trio of juniors in the 200 freestyle relay. The Marauders won in 1:31.45.

Senior Caleb Strege was part of the victorious 400 freestyle relay team that finished its race, the last of the meet, in 3:20.69.

All sectional champions — other than divers who compete in regional competition tonight — advance to Friday’s IHSAA state prelims at Indiana University Natatorium in downtown Indianapolis in hopes of moving on to Saturday’s state finals.

Gray and Garey will each compete in four events. Murphy will compete in three.

Gray is going to the state meet for the third straight year. He qualified for the 50 as an individual and was part of the 200 medley relay team, which placed 13th in the state, and 200 freestyle relay team last year.

“I’m very excited about the opportunity to swim in four events at state,” Gray said. “There are a lot of very good swimmers who have never gotten to do that in their life and I get to do it as a junior. I’m very thankful for my experience on the relays as a freshman and sophomore. I feel experienced enough and I’ll be ready to go.”

Garey was part of the 200 freestyle relay team last year.

“I’d have to go back and check but I think this is our biggest year in terms of swims at state,” Grieshop said of qualifying for seven events. “We talked at the beginning of the year we really thought this could be our number to get down there this year. We hit a goal that we had talked about from the get-go.”

Though none secured state spots on Saturday, it was still a special day for Hancock County’s other representatives.

Along with the Dragons placing second, Eastern Hancock, one of the smallest schools in the 11-team field, placed fifth. Greenfield-Central had a sectional champion in diver Alexander Jahrsdoerfer.

Jahrsdoerfer will compete today in the Brownsburg Diving Regional. First through eighth-place participants will qualify for the state finals.

Eastern Hancock head coach Michael Dolence couldn’t have been happier with his team’s performance. The fifth-place finish is the best the Royals have ever done at the meet.

Senior Matthew McDaniel was runner-up to Harker in the 200 freestyle. The Royals 200 freestyle relay group of Luken Edwards, Joey Blocher, Ryan Dagley and McDaniel were second to the Marauders. The same quartet was third in the 400 relay.

“This year we had a group of seniors that absolutely came together as a group and decided they wanted to do amazing things at this meet,” Dolence said. “We’re a small school and we’re competing against these schools that are five times our enrollment. It’s tough to be able to have a small team and do what we did.

“We’re a team of 12 and every event you can enter three kids. We can’t enter three kids. We don’t have that many kids to enter. To be able to come in fifth with what we have is amazing. I’m proud of them and their resilience, effort and positive attitude.”

New Palestine coach Chris Kingery, in his first year as head coach, had a lot to be happy about.

The Dragons got some of its top finishes on relays, too. Dawson Lynch, Aiden Kingery, Liam Fuller and Quincy Shirk placed third in the 200 medley relay. Dontae Thompson, Eli Kleine, Liam Fuller and Chase Martin were third in the 200 freestyle relay.

Lynch, a freshman, added a third in the 100 backstroke.

“Everybody stepped up today,” Kingery said of his young group that includes 10 freshmen. “We have four or five more coming up (next year) from the junior high.

“I thought we would finish second. It was going to be tough to beat Mt. Vernon. They’re a tough team and deep. We took a chance and really fought with them. We were close, more fuel for next year.”

2022 New Palestine Boys Swimming and Diving Sectional

Team scores: Mt. Vernon 348, New Palestine 294, Richmond 255, Shelbyville 235, Eastern Hancock 221, New Castle 197, Greenfield-Central 190, Centerville 139, Hagerstown 125, Connersville 78, Seton Catholic 32.

Individual winners

Event;Champion;Time/Points

200 freestyle;Tyler Harker, Shelbyville;1:46.20

200 IM;Matthew Garey, Mt. Vernon;1:58.70

50 freestyle;Brady Gray, Mt. Vernon;21.59

1-meter diving;Alex Jahrsdoerfer, Greenfield-Central;380.70

100 butterfly;Will Rife, Shelbyville;53.56

100 freestyle;Brady Gray, Mt. Vernon;48.00

500 freestyle;Matthew Garey, Mt. Vernon;4:54.23

100 backstroke;Ethan Murphy, Mt. Vernon;56.94

100 breaststroke;Cayden Lindahl, Richmond;1:00.57

Relay winners

Event;Team;Time

200 medley relay; Shelbyville;1:41.06

(Will Rife, Tyler Harker, Juan Gonzalez-Gallego, Trey Carrell)

200 freestyle relay; Mt. Vernon;1:31.45

(Brady Gray, Ethan Murphy, Jack Champion, Matthew Garey)

400 freestyle relay;Mt. Vernon;3:20.69

(Brady Gray, Caleb Strege, Ethan Murphy, Matthew Garey)