The state swimming and diving finals are almost a month away, but I don't think it's too early to make a prediction.
Chesterton WILL win the program's third team crown.
The Trojans won consecutive titles in 2008 and '09, and they will return to the top step of the podium thanks to an ever-developing junior class.
The headliners continue to be Blake Pieroni (defending 100-yard state free champ), Aaron Whitaker (third in the 100 fly and back), twin brother Ethan (eighth in the 500 free) and Jack Wallar (fifth in the 100 breast).
The foursome remain dominant in the state coaches polls.
Pieroni has the top posted times this season in the 100 free (45.24) and 200 free (1:39.2). Aaron Whitaker has top times the 100 back (50.3) and 100 fly (49.0).
Wallar is rated second in the 100 breast (57.75) and eighth in the 50 free (21.53). Ethan Whitaker is third in the 500 free (4:38.75) and eighth in the 200 individual medley (1:57.57).
Those numbers will probably rise since Pieroni is ranked higher in both events and his twin brother Aaron is rated higher in the 200 IM -- and neither will probably compete against Ethan at state.
The key component comes from others in the class, who continue to raise their abilities.
Three other juniors are rated in the top 32 rankings for the events: Andy Hurst (500 free, 100 back), Patrick Curley (200 IM, 100 breast) and Tony Kincaid (100 fly).
Hurst is also part of the 200 medley relay team with the top time in the state (1:35.3), and Curley helped the 400 free relay team post the state's best time (3:05.53).
"We've developed some great chemistry," Chesterton coach Kevin Kinel said. "You have to build a total team. Every season, more and more kids in this class step up and become a really big part of the team.
"That depth will pay off, because those kids will be ready to score at the state meet."
Just as important to me is the team's rigorous schedule.
Kinel doesn't allow his team to take a break. The top-ranked Trojans began the season with a meet against No. 4 Northridge, which was ranked as high as No. 2 at one point.
The Hall of Fame Classic, Homestead and Panther invites also included several ranked teams in the field.
Yearly rival Munster is up tonight.
Just two days later, it's the Duneland Athletic Conference meet. A pair of emotionally-charged events in the span of three days is even more daunting than the sectional schedule and just the primer for the state finals.
"We get these guys familiar to racing against the best teams in the state," Kinel said.
And Chesterton's faithful can familiarize themselves with another state title celebration.
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