With the IHSAA Boys Swimming and Diving State Finals getting underway tomorrow, competitors from two Hancock County schools will be looking to cap off great seasons with different goals in mind.

Greenfield-Central looks to put an exclamation point on their growth as a team this season, while Eastern Hancock’s Gus Upchurch looks to prove that a small school can compete on the biggest stage.

Both will get a chance to do so tomorrow night in the state prelims at the IU Natatorium in Indianapolis.

“It’s tremendous for our program. We’re going to be a solid competitor, so it’s exciting. We had a window put in our natatorium this summer and it’s like kids were surprised that we had a pool. We’re a small school, it’s all about baseball, basketball and football. I’ve seen a lot more kids now think about swimming club over the summer,” Eastern Hancock head coach Mike Dolence said. “Being able to have a state finalist out there is really going to help the program in the future even more. Regardless of how the IHSAA sets things up, this proves that small schools can go and compete there, you just have to put in the hard work.”

Upchurch enters the prelims coming off of a record-setting day at the New Palestine Sectional where he qualified in two events.

His first state-qualifying swim came in the 500-yard freestyle and put him in the Eastern Hancock record books as the first boys swimmer in school history to qualify for the state meet.

His swim in the event set two school records as well. Over the first 200 yards of the race, he set the Royals 200 freestyle record and his full time of 4:44.84 broke the 500 free record.

The swim was nearly 18 seconds faster than his sectional prelim time and has him seeded 19th out of 32 swimmers going into tomorrow.

“We want to see him continue to drop time and we’d love to see him come back on Saturday. I think he’s capable of doing it, but we’re just focusing on it being fun,” Dolence said. “He swims club year-round and travels to big meets. This is just another one of those big meets. There’s going to be a lot of fast swimmers there, and it’s going to be exciting being at the same pool as them.”

Along with the 500 free, Upchurch will be swimming in the 100-yard backstroke. He shaved off three seconds in the event at the sectional to win as the fifth seed with a time of 53.87 seconds.

He enters the event tomorrow seeded 29th.

“The pressure that he felt initially about prelims we were kind of able to get rid of that. We just told him to go swim his race and do what he knows how to do. With that in his head, it has helped,” Dolence said. “He’s going to just go swim his race and what he gets he gets. The entire school is proud of him whatever he does.”

While Upchurch hopes to set individual goals, Greenfield-Central will look to set goals of their own as a team.

The Cougars are competing in one event at tomorrow’s meet, the 200-yard medley relay.

A mid-season switch to the relay lineup led to a state-qualifying swim for the Cougars at the sectional meet.

After losing to New Palestine in the event at the Hoosier Heritage Conference meet, the Cougars went with a new lineup at the sectional and overtook the Dragons who came in seeded tied with G-C as the favorite.

“We looked at the results after the conference meet and what the other teams were doing. We saw the stroke times from our four guys and thought we would have a coin-flip chance to take the medley relay,” Greenfield-Central head coach Ben Felver said. “At that point, we decided to make the switch, and when I announced it to the guys they were all about it. They wanted to give it a shot.”

The switch paid off, with the team of Aiden Michael, Colten Mayberry, Jonathon Grimes and Isaac Johnson swimming a 1:40.74 to give the Cougars the narrow edge over the Dragons time of 1:41.13. The winning time has them seeded 29th in the prelims.

“The boys are really focused. The goal is to try and win that first heat and see where that lands them overall,” Felver said. “It’s a hard turnaround after being fully rested for the sectional to state on only a couple of days rest. They’ve had a really good mindset though, and that’s one of the keys. They’re not just completely satisfied to be there, they want to go out and have their best time and best swim.”

They’ll look to continue the growth that they’ve shown since the beginning of the season, something the first-year head coach has been preaching to the team all year long.

“It’s really good for the program. We had a diver the last couple of years, but we haven’t had a swimmer in three years,” Felver said. “The expectation of our program is to swim at the highest level, so it’s good to get back there. Hopefully, this is a jumping-off point for the guys moving forward.”

The state prelims begin tomorrow at 6 p.m. with the top 16 competitors in each event advancing to either Saturday’s consolation or championship finals.