INDIANAPOLIS | One by one, Chesterton swimmers and coaches jumped off the awards podium and into the pool at the IUPUI Natatorium.
Even some school administrators were pushed in for a dip.
All the back flips and cannon balls off that podium were the result of pure euphoria. The Trojans amassed 240 points, picking up their second consecutive state crown and fourth title in seven seasons.
“There was so much expected all year,” Chesterton coach Kevin Kinel said. “These guys really handled it well.
"There’s so many good teams and good coaches in this state. We knew we really had to be ready on Friday (during preliminaries). These kids performed wonderfully and came back and did even better (Saturday). I’m awfully proud of them.”
A day after setting the national public school record with a 400 free relay preliminary time of 2:59.36, the Trojans started off Saturday with the second-fastest national time of 1:29.64 in the 200 medley relay, also a state record. Chesterton also repeated in the 400 free relay.
“That was amazing,” Chesterton’s Blake Pieroni said of the medley relay. “We wanted to get that medley so bad. We really did with the help of Gary Kostbade (freestyle leg), who anchored the medley with his best time. It was just perfect.”
It wouldn’t be a state swim meet without the Trojans setting multiple state records. Aaron Whitaker broke his own state records in the 100 back (47.06) and the 100 fly (46.61), ending his swimming career at Chesterton on the best note possible.
“This is all just incredible,” said Whitaker, who will swim at Michigan next season. “I couldn’t ask for a better way to end my high school career, especially with these guys.
“I’m happy for what I did. I’m really happy for my coach. He’s just a die-hard coach and it’s nice knowing we can end our senior year with a bang.”
Pieroni, who will swim at Indiana next year, repeated in the 200 individual medley and 100 free. He knew the team had confidence coming in to hold off second-place Avon, which amassed 198 points. The Trojans scored the preliminary meet and found themselves about 30 points ahead of Avon on Monday.
“We knew we had to swim how we could to get it done, and that’s what we did,” said Pieroni, who was the meet’s Herman F. Keller Mental Attitude Award winner.
Though Pieroni, Aaron Whitaker, Ethan Whitaker, Jack Wallar and Patrick Curley will all graduate and will certainly be missed, the cupboard isn’t bare. Kostbade and Wesley Slaughter are just freshmen, and will be important for future success at Chesterton. Kinel said Chesterton is by no means in a rebuilding phase.
“It’s really big for those guys to get this experience,” Kinel said. “We’ve got a lot of kids in lower grades that didn’t make it here but are awfully good. Some of them didn’t swim (in) our sectional lineup, so they’re really going to get their turn next year. We’re really looking forward to it.”
INDIANAPOLIS | Going up against Chesterton’s Aaron Whitaker, the state record holder in the 100-yard backstroke, is never an easy task to undertake.
However, Munster junior Wilson Beckman did the best he could, finishing tied for runner-up honors with Lawrence North’s Adam Noens in 49.82 seconds.
Beckman’s finish was the best among any local swimmer not from the state-champion Trojans.
“That was my goal coming in, and I accomplished that goal,” Beckman said. “I wasn’t in position to do that off my third turn, but I kind of just thought ‘I’m not going to lose this,’ and I pulled through.”
Beckman also placed fifth in the 100 free (46.37).
Teammate Joey Gardner placed sixth in the 100 breast (56.62). The duo also helped the 200 medley relay (10th, 1:35.76) and 400 free relay (16th, 3:14.03) in the consolation heats.
“I felt pretty good during my swim,” Gardner said. “I’m happy I’m under 57 (seconds). I came in seeded sixth, and I got sixth.”
The Seahorses are ready to come back and improve on their 13th place team showing at state next season.
“We can’t wait for next season,” Gardner said. “Individually, Wilson and I should place even higher in our events. We’re just stoked for it.”
Capping a busy day: Valparaiso’s Andrew Antonetti participated in four events Saturday. He was ecstatic about placing fourth in the 200 free (1:40.07), helping him cap a busy day and a successful prep swimming career.
“I felt like it was a good race,” he said. “It didn’t feel like last year where I did the first three 50s strong and then died. It felt like it was a good curve the whole way.
Antonetti also placed eighth in the 500 free (4:37.80) and helped the Vikings place 11th in the 200 free relay (1:27.59) and 13th in the 400 free relay (3:11.24).
Diving to a strong finish: Portage’s John Fannin finished sixth in diving with 447.40 points, ending his senior season on a strong note.
“My goal was to place, so getting sixth place was what I wanted,” he said. “I was coming in ranked ninth, so getting sixth made the end of my senior year end on a great note.”
Highland’s Mitch Mastey placed 13th (400.80) and Crown Point’s Sage Chiaro was 16th (380.15) to round out the local divers.
Getting a taste of the competition: Lake Central’s Connor Homans made a splash in his first-ever state finals competition. The junior finished ninth in the 100 free (46.71) and 10th in the 50 free (21.28). Homans came in seeded just 16th after his preliminary time of 47.33.
“I was so happy after (the 100 free),” he said. “It was a really fun time. The competition was really intense. Next year, I want to come back and make my statement.”
Rebounding from disappointment: Crown Point’s Andrew Kvachkoff didn’t qualify for last season’s state finals, so the senior knew he had to work for that this season.
Kvachkoff did just that, placing 12th in the 100 breast (57.79).
“With as fast as this state is, it’s just a great experience, especially for my senior year,” he said.
Kvachkoff also helped the Bulldogs place 15th in the 200 medley relay (1:37.86)
Chesterton's boys swimming team asserted their influence early, middle and late at Friday's state prelims.
The defending champions ignited the session with a state record in the 200 medley relay (1:30.65).
Aaron Whitaker and Blake Pieroni kept up the pace, besting their own records in the 100 fly (46.61) and 100 free (43.52), respectively.
The Trojans punctuated the night, breaking the national public school record in the 400 free relay (2:59.35).
"We set ourselves up pretty well to try to go after a repeat," said Chesterton coach Kevin Kinel, whose program is aiming for its fourth state title. "We started out aggressive, and we were able to keep it going. We ended with a pretty big bang."
The top eight seeds qualified for the championship heat, while the next eight will swim in the consolation heat in the Indiana University Natatorium at IUPUI.
Seniors Aaron Whitaker, Jack Wallar, Pieroni plus freshman Gary Kostbade broke the Trojans' 2009 mark in the 200 medley (1:32.01). The 400 free team of twins Aaron and Ethan Whitaker, Pieroni and classmate Patrick Curley bested their mark from last year (3:01.05).
Pieroni and Aaron Whitaker are equally set to defend their titles in the 200 individual medley (1:46.78) and 100 back (47.31), respectively, both earning the top seeds.
Ethan Whitaker is seeded second in the 200 free (1:38.23) and third in the 500 free (4:29.02). The 200 free relay team is seeded fourth.
The Trojans have an entry in every swimming event today, including two in the 200 IM, 100 fly, 500 free and 100 breast.
"We had really good swims up and down (the lineup)," Kinel said. "Some of our kids bumped up and got us in a scoring position.
"It's still going to be a battle. There's still work to do."
Valparaiso senior Andrew Antonetti will be extremely busy in the finals. He's seeded fourth in the 200 free (1:40.44) and eighth in the 500 free (4:35.93). He also helped the Vikings qualify in the 200 free relay (10th, 1:27.04) and 400 free relay (13th, 3:12.92), school records in both events.
"He swam kind of right where we thought," Valpo coach Adam Nellessen said of Antonetti, who's been a state finalist the last three seasons. "I still think his best is yet to come.
"I think it's a boost to be in the relays. He's made it very clear that this isn't all about him. I think it's more of a positive for him. He has teammates to swim with."
Wilson Beckman knew he had a lot left in the tank after an impressive performance in Saturday's Munster Sectional.
Beckman followed up wins in the 100-yard freestyle and 100 back with strong finishes in Friday's state meet preliminaries in Indianapolis.
Going up against Chesterton's Aaron Whitaker -- who holds the state record in the backstroke (47.29) -- Beckman knocked nearly a second off his sectional time of 50.17 with a 49.2-second swim, leaving him as the No. 2 seed for today's state finals.
"That was a really great swim," Beckman said. "It was probably my best of the night. I came in with the confidence I never really had during the season. I think I can drop more (time) tomorrow."
Beckman also captured the No. 5 seed for the finals in the 100 free, finishing in 46.12.
Beckman's teammate Joey Gardner will be back today in the championship heat of the 100 breast, earning the No. 6 seed after finishing in 56.06 seconds. Gardner also finished 10th in the 200 individual medley (1:52.45) and will return in the consolation heat. Gardner hopes to break Joe Wulf's breaststroke team record of 55.85 seconds in the finals.
"I didn't do as well as I had planned (in the IM)," Gardner said. "In the 100 breast, I blew away my expectations. I just wanted to beat my time, and I dropped more than I thought I would."
Munster's 200 medley relay will be in the consolation heat after finishing ninth (1:36.13). The Seahorses' 400 free relay finished 16th (3:12.92) and will compete in the consolation heat.
Munster coach Matt Pavlovich was pleased with the swims overall.
"They were good swims," he said. "Our relays did really well at sectionals, so we knew it was going to be a bit of a challenge to repeat those times."
No other Lake County swimmer or relay team will compete in championship heats. Crown Point's 200 medley relay finished 15th (1:37.64). Andrew Kvachkoff was 12th in the 100 breast (57.02).
Lake Central's Connor Homans will return for consolation heat competition in the 50 free (11th, 21.36) and 100 free (16th, 47.33).
Three years ago, veteran Chesterton coach Kevin Kinel already noted the eye-popping results being produced by his freshman boys class.
"It's been way beyond my expectations," Kinel said in December of 2010.
Since then, the class led the program to its third state title, and they're primed this weekend to win another.
"This class has been amazing with what they have accomplished," Kinel said Tuesday. "More kids keep emerging every year. That's what makes it special."
The list includes two individual event state-record holders. Aaron Whitaker broke records in his wins in the 100-yard fly (47.33) and 100 back (47.29) last season. Blake Pieroni has three individual state crowns, setting the 100 free mark (44.28) last season.
Aaron's twin brother Ethan has three top-eight finishes, including a second in the 20 free and third in the 500 free last season. Jack Wallar placed fifth in the 100 breast as a sophomore and seventh last year.
Aaron Whitaker and Pieroni have been on two state relay winners, joining with Ethan Whitaker and Patrick Curley to break the 400 free mark (3:01.05) last year.
Andy Hurst was a part of the 200 medley winning team last season. Jack Kurfman helped the 200 free relay team place fifth last year. Antonio Kincaid has qualified for state the last two seasons. Brent Vondra served as a relay alternate last year, and Nate Rodriguez is a relay alternate this season.
"The whole team has come so far," said Pieroni, who leads the group with five event wins. "It's been awesome that everyone has been coming on, some of those that don't always get the recognition.
"I just never imaged it would be like this."
Hurst said that a majority of the class has been swimming together for several years, helping to build a strong bond.
"I really like that we have a strong age-group program (Duneland Swim Club)," said Hurst, who qualified for his first individual state event this year (100 back). "It allows you to compete with a large class. We've swam for almost 10 years together."
That strong tie has made things less contentious in the pool.
"It's not like someone is jealous because someone had an article did on them," Hurst said. "(Tuesday) I asked Blake about my starts, he looked and gave me feedback."
Aaron and Ethan's older brother Kyle is arguably the best swimmer in program history. Kyle Whitaker is tied with Carmel's Jason Lancaster with 12 event titles.
It's the depth of this class that turns heads. One that has continued to develop each offseason.
"I'm not a swimmer like Blake or Aaron," Curley said. "I had to step into spots and work my way up the ladder. Now, I'm playing with the big boys. They've helped me to get this point."
"Big boys" like Aaron Whitaker showed his desire to help teammates at the LaPorte Sectional. Whitaker broke his own marks in the 100 fly and back, but his quick pace also pushed his teammates. Freshman Gary Kostbade and Whitaker's classmates Kincaid and Hurst met the state-cut times.
"It makes me feel better knowing that I'm helping get guys down," Whitaker said. "That increases our chance to do better at state."
In the end, this class appears to be more about lasting relationships.
"I wouldn't trade this for anything," Curley said. "I've made friends I'll have for the rest of my life. They mean the most to me."
When Munster junior Wilson Beckman was in middle school, he always looked up to the 2009 and 2010 Seahorses boys swimming teams.
Those teams were state runners-up, and included top swimmers Kevin Behrens, Dillon Thompson and Joe Wulf.
"It was cool just to see small-town Munster make a name in the state meet," Beckman said. "We've always been a small town, but we make a big name for ourselves in the state meet."
After that class graduated, it was time for Munster to bring in a new group of talented swimmers.
Fast forward four years, and the Seahorses are poised to have another strong showing at state.
That's largely due to Beckman, who is seeded second in the 100 back (50.17) and seventh in the 100 free (46.43), while the 200 medley relay is fourth (1:34.32) and the 400 free relay is 13th (3:11.18).
"I think I'm seeded second with a bunch of different guys," Beckman said of the parity in the 100 back. "It's going to be a really competitive race for second. Individually, I just want to drop more time. I think about just improving that."
Beckman said his biggest improvement from his sophomore year to now has been his leg kick, which he described as simply being bad last season. He worked on it over the summer, improved it and his times in the backstroke have dropped.
Munster coach Matt Pavlovich said he thinks Beckman still has a lot left to give. Beckman wasn't shaved during the Munster Sectional when he posted his seed times, so time drops are expected.
"He's happy, and it's good to see him happy because he has high expectations of himself," Pavlovich said. "He's always looking for that little extra something to always make himself better. He's the type of kid who will stay after practice and work with coaches or himself if there's something he thinks he needs to improve on. He's in a good spot, and I'd like to see him up there with the top dogs, obviously."
Beckman's teammate, Joey Gardner, is seeded seventh in the 200 IM (1:51.97) and third in the 100 breast (56.37).
"It's obviously really exciting," Beckman said. "I always wanted a really great state team, and I think we have that now. I think we should be top 10 (as a team), and we should be even better next year, competing for a state title."
Where: Indiana University Natatorium at IUPUI, 901 W. New York St., Indianapolis.
When: Swimming preliminaries, 5 p.m. Friday; diving preliminaries and semifinals, 8 a.m. Saturday; consolation and finals in all events, noon Saturday.
Tickets: $8 per session or $12 season pass.
Webcast: www.ihsaatv.org (live on Saturday).
Favorite: Chesterton. Darkhorse: Avon.
Top seeds and local qualifiers
200 MEDLEY RELAY — 1. Avon 1:33.61, 4. Munster 1:34.32, 5. Chesterton 1:34.43, 15. Crown Point 1:37.12, 22. Lake Central 1:38.28.
200 FREE — 1. Parks Jones (Avon) 1:39.16, 7. Ethan Whitaker (Chesterton) 1:41.51, 10. Andrew Antonetti (Valparaiso) 1:42.04, 30. Christopher Dabrowski (Highland) 1:47.53.
200 I.M. — 1. Cody Taylor (Columbus North) 1:48.99, 5. Blake Pieroni (Chesterton) 1:51.7, 7. Joseph Gardner (Munster) 1:51.97, 14. Josh Barajas (Lake Central) 1:53.81, 21. Patrick Curley (Chesterton) 1:54.86.
50 FREE — 1. Sam Loescher (Columbus North) 20.64, 11. Connor Homans (Lake Central) 21.38, 25. Jack Wallar (Chesterton) 21.95.
DIVING — 1. Kevin Frebel (Homestead) 548.1, 9. John Fannin (Portage) 437.15, 17. Alex Morgan (Lake Central) 387.05, 21. Drake Hunt (Lake Central) 366.25, 22. Mitch Mastey (Highland) 365.9, 23. Sage Chiaro (Crown Point) 358.45.
100 FLY — 1. Aaron Whitaker (Chesterton) 48.73, 15. Gary Kostbade (Chesterton) 51.4, 16. Barajas (Lake Central) 51.41, 17. Joey Karczewski (Crown Point) 51.56, 24. Timothy Schoof (Michigan City) 51.83, 27. Tony Kincaid (Chesterton) 51.95.
100 FREE — 1. Pieroni (Chesterton) 45.26, 7. Wilson Beckman (Munster) 46.43, 11. Homans (Lake Central) 46.81, 16. Curley (Chesterton) 47.23.
500 FREE — 1. Jones (Avon) 4:28.33, 9. Antonetti (Valparaiso) 4:39.37, 11. E. Whitaker (Chesterton) 4:40.35, 23. Josh VanNevel (Chesterton) 4:44.82, 25. Dabrowski (Highland) 4:45.4.
200 FREE RELAY — 1. Columbus North 1:25.3, 9. Chesterton 1:26.83, 18. Valparaiso 1:28.5, 20. Crown Point 1:28.56, 24. Lake Central 1:28.79.
100 BACK — 1. A. Whitaker (Chesterton) 49.8, 2. Beckman (Munster) 50.17, 17. Andy Hurst (Chesterton) 52.98, 19. Karczewski (Crown Point) 53.14,
100 BREAST — 1. Taylor (Columbus North) 54.55, 3. Gardner (Munster) 56.37, 7. Andrew Kvachkoff (Crown Point) 56.87, 12. Kostbade (Chesterton) 57.78, 14. Wallar (Chesterton) 57.79.
400 FREE RELAY — 1. Chesterton 3:06.13, 13. Munster 3:11.18, 22. Valparaiso 3:14.25.
Advancement: The top 16 in each swimming event from Friday's prelims will return for competition Saturday, with the top eight individuals vying for state championship honors. Those finishing nine through 16 on Friday advance to the consolation heats. Diving takes place Saturday, with the top 21 competitors advancing from the prelims to the semis after five dives each. After three dives each in the semis, the top 16 advance to the final round for another three dives each.
Fast fact: Chesterton is defending champion, and the program has three total titles.
Directions: Take I-65 south to Exit 114 (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street/West Street). Turn right onto W. Michigan Street, left on N. University Boulevard, then left on W. New York Street.
MISHAWAKA | It’s safe to say Northwest Indiana will be well represented in the diving event at Saturday’s IHSAA state meet.
Portage’s John Fannin got a taste of what competing at state was like last season as a junior. However, after winning Tuesday’s Penn Regional with a final score of 437.15 points, Fannin is ready to utilize some increased confidence at state.
“I’m speechless,” said Fannin, who relied on his reverse two and a half somersaults dive. “It will probably hit me on the way home on the bus. It’s two years in a row now. Last year was just getting used to state. Now, I’ll get out there and actually compete with the top competitors. There’s still some improvement for Saturday.”
Lake Central sophomore Alex Morgan placed third (387.05), and freshman teammate Drake Hunt finished sixth (366.25), allowing the Indians to add two competitors to an already well-represented team at state.
“It’s a lot better with a teammate,” Morgan said. “I was worried one of us wouldn’t qualify. It’s going to be a lot better bus ride, especially with a friend.”
Hunt is ready to test his skills among the state’s elite divers.
“I’m very excited, especially because I’m only a freshman,” he said. “I’m pretty skilled at (diving), so I’m very excited to see how much competition there is.”
Highland junior Mitch Mastey will make his first trip to state after placing seventh with 365.90 points. He joins Chris Dabrowski, who qualified in the 200 free and 500 free after winning both events in Saturday’s Munster Sectional.
“It feels great just to go down there (for Highland),” he said. “It’s just me and Chris. I’ve worked really hard, and it just feels awesome.”
Crown Point senior Sage Chiaro has never felt the rush of competing at state. Chiaro finished a heartbreaking ninth place at last season’s South Bend Riley Regional. This time, Chiaro punched his ticket with an eighth-place finish (358.45).
“It’s great to be down there with the swimmers this year,” Chiaro said. “It’s fantastic and I’m excited. I just missed it last year. I’m just ecstatic right now. I’ve been working four years for this, and I’m finally doing it.”
When: 5 p.m. today.
Advancement: Top eight qualify for Saturday's IHSAA state finals.
Favorite: Wayne Zhang, Penn. Darkhorse: Alex Morgan, Lake Central.
Divers to watch: Taylor Berkey, Northridge; Sage Chiaro, Crown Point; Brandon Crosby, Portage; John Fannin, Portage; Drake Hunt, Lake Central; Mitchell Mastey, Highland; Alex Morgan, Lake Central; Hudson Kay, Goshen; Wayne Zhang, Penn.
Fast fact: Fannin, Berkey and Zhang all qualified for last year's state meet.
ST. JOHN | Lake Central's spanking-new Olympic-sized pool is fast.
How so, you might ask. Is it filled with high-octane H20?
Not necessarily, but motors are involved.
"They are installed in the filtration system," Lake Central swim coach Jeff Kilinski said. "They help draw the water down the drains faster, making the surface more smooth and less choppy.
"It's also real deep at the turns causing less water resistance coming up from the bottom of the pool."
Kilinski is the head coach for the varsity boys team and the LC Swim Club. He's also the aquatics director at the new pool, which he says should be aptly referred to as the "Lake Central Aquatics Center."
"This is more than just for Lake Central students and age-group swimmers," Kilinski said. "This is open to the whole community."
Both high school and age-group teams started their fall-winter seasons at the old pool.
"We held our first practice in here on Dec. 23," Kilinski said. "We held our first (high school) meet on Jan. 14."
Everything went almost "swimmingly" from the starting block.
"We had to learn how to operate the scoreboard and new timing system," Kilinski said. "There was a lot to take in during a short period of time. Due to the weather canceling all these school days, we didn't get much of an opportunity to get back in here to practice what we learned.
"Things were a little hectic right before the first meet, but we managed to figure things out in time."
When it comes to realizing the full potential of the state-of-the-art "center," Kilinski said he and his staff are still getting their feet wet.
"It's going to be interesting to see when we switch our lanes over to 50 yards (from the winter-season length 25 yards)," he said. "I don't anticipate much of a problem in adjusting the timing system, but we'll see for sure when we make that change."
Challenges aside, Kilinski loves the aquatics center so much he seems completely drained of any nostalgia harbored for the old pool where he emerged as Lake Central's first All-American swimmer in 1986.
"When I first saw this, I was blown away," he said. "I heard how great this was going to be, but to tell you the truth, I wasn't letting myself get too excited. I know how most everything falls short of great expectations.
"But this was everything and more that what I expected."
In addition to high school, age-group and community open swims, the aquatics center is the home of the fledgling Lake Central Masters Association, a swim club for ages 19 and over.
"For our opening sign-ups, we had more than 40 show up," said Abby Homans, the LCMA head coach who also teaches Spanish at the school.
Homans was a star swimmer for Munster, graduating in 2006. Soon after, she starting swimming for a masters program at Munster.
"I still love swimming competitively," she said.
The U.S. Masters Swimming program, which the LCMA is a part of, holds state and national meets throughout its winter and summer seasons.
"But some swimmers do it just to stay in shape ... to become more healthy," Homans said. "Some triathletes do it to improve their swimming times."
The LCMA club practices Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, and Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings.
"We modify our practices and programs to skill levels," Homans said. "We also help people learn new strokes like the butterfly and breaststroke."
MUNSTER | Joey Gardner's performance in the 100-yard breaststroke was but a microcosm of how Munster would fare at its own sectional meet on Saturday.
Gardner, who finished his breaststroke in 1:00.17 in Thursday's preliminaries, shattered that time by winning the event in 56.37 seconds, eclipsing both a pool and sectional record.
"I can't say I was saving it (for the finals)," Gardner said. "My mind just wasn't in the right place. I knew, come finals, I would do a lot better."
It was just one of many stellar swims the Seahorses would execute in the meet, as they earned their state record-extending 29th consecutive sectional championship after compiling 470 points.
"We're happy -- it was a total team effort," Munster coach Matt Pavlovich said. "We had a lot of kids step up on Thursday to get in that top eight. That's what it's about -- trying to win another championship."
Gardner also won the 200 individual medley in 1:51.97, setting a new pool and sectional record while trimming more than six seconds off his preliminary time.
Munster also took the 200 medley relay (1:34.32) and 400 free relay (3:11.18). Wilson Beckman won the 100 free (46.43) and 100 back (50.17).
"We hope to get top 10, maybe top eight (at state)," Gardner said. "Individually, me and Beckman should definitely be top eight in our events. We can't wait for state."
Lake Central's Josh Barajas had one of the biggest time drops of the day in the 200 individual medley, finishing in 1:53.81, under the state cut. Barajas' prelim time was 2:03.08.
"I wasn't really expecting to go 1:53, so when I saw that I was ecstatic," Barajas said. "I felt good during the whole race and came out with a great time."
Barajas won the 100 fly (51.41). Connor Homans won the 50 free (21.38) and the Indians also will send divers Alex Morgan (first, 433.08 points) and Drake Hunt (fourth, 400.53) to Tuesday's Penn Regional. The Indians placed third with 360 points.
Crown Point's lone win came in the 200 free relay (1:28.56). In that race, Andrew Kvachkoff swam a 50 free split of 21.63, which helped the Bulldogs place second with 414 points.
"We weren't supposed to come close in that relay," Crown Point coach Doug Norris said. "We really planned it well because we put our two fast guys (Joey Karczewski and Kvachkoff) in the middle. We had to get that lead."
Highland's Chris Dabrowski won both the 200 free (1:47.53) and 500 free (4:45.70), the latter of which was a little more than a second off the pool record. His performance helped the Trojans place fourth with 311 points.
"I was really happy with that," Dabrowski said of his 500 free. "I was shooting for that pool record. I thought to myself 'Maybe if I went a little faster I could have got it.' I'm really happy with a 4:45."
LAPORTE | Chesterton senior Aaron Whitaker broke his own LaPorte Sectional records in the 100-yard fly with a time of 48.73 and 100 back in 49.8, and came up with a straightforward plan for teammates Saturday afternoon.
"I told them to stay up with me," Whitaker said. "I was feeling confident (about qualifying for state), and I wanted to make sure they would hang with me."
Teammates Gary Kostbade (51.4) and Tony Kincaid (51.95) broke the state cut in the fly, finishing second and fourth, respectively. Teammate Andy Hurst broke the state cut in the back (52.98), finishing second.
"It makes me feel better knowing that I'm helping get guys down," Whitaker said. "That increases our chance to do better at state."
Defending state champion Chesterton captured its 16th consecutive sectional crown, scoring 548 points. The Trojans broke meet records in all three relays; Blake Pieroni won both the 100 free and 200 IM; Jack Wallar won the 50 free; Ethan Whitaker won the 200 free and Kosbade won the 100 breast. They also qualified at least two swimmers for state in five events.
"Having that is huge; we need to go down and score," Chesterton coach Kevin Kinel said. "The best is yet to come. ... We have a bunch of kids who are unshaved or not in their (fast) suits, so that's a good sign."
Valparaiso senior Andrew Antonetti was also not fully tapered, but that didn't him stop him from massive time drops. He knocked over 16 seconds off his prelim time to win the 500 free in 4:39.27. He took close to eight seconds of his prelim time in the 200 free to beat the state cut and finish second (1:42.04).
"I felt pretty bad Thursday, but I felt much better (Saturday)," said Antonetti, who also helped the 200 free relay finish second and qualify for state. "It has a lot to do with the atmosphere. It's just so much different for the finals."
Portage senior John Fannin scored a career-best 487.8 to win diving. Fannin qualified for state last year, and he feels pretty confident heading into Tuesday's Penn Diving Regional.
"I have some dives that I'm still working on, and I was still able to get pretty high scores," he said. "That tells me I can do better."
MUNSTER | It’s no secret to fans of Indiana high school swimming that Munster’s tradition of success in sectional competition dates back a long time -- well before any of the Seahorses swimmers were born.
Therefore, it’s no surprise the Seahorses will head into Saturday’s Munster Sectional finals the favorite to win their 29th consecutive championship after earning No. 1 seeds in five of 11 events in Thursday’s preliminaries.
“We saw some really great swims pretty much throughout,” Munster coach Matt Pavlovich said. “I’m really pleased with the way they swam. We’re set up to have some nice races (Saturday). It’s going to be tough to repeat those times again.”
Munster’s Wilson Beckman led the way in the 100 back, where he eclipsed his old pool record by finishing in 51.25 seconds. Beckman also will be seeded first in the 100 free (47.44) and helped the 200 medley relay and 400 free relay to a No. 1 seed, as well.
“Sectional finals, I think I’ll swim a lot faster,” Beckman said of his backstroke. “I wasn’t expecting it at all. Saturday, I think we need to just get the job done. I think we’ll have a lot more state qualifiers than people thought we would.”
Joey Gardner was Munster’s other No. 1 seed in the 200 individual medley (1:58.27). Teammate Jack Wulf took second in 1:59.06.
It came as no surprise that Highland’s Chris Dabrowski -- the favorite to emerge as Saturday’s No. 1 seed in both the 200 free and 500 free -- did so in both events in 1:48.44 and 4:51.06, respectively. However, teammate Matt Byquist set a personal record in the 100 fly, and will be seeded first Saturday with a 52.45 finish.
“I was feeling confident, but I definitely didn’t expect to bust out what I did or come in first,” Byquist said. “I was relatively surprised to come in first.”
Lake Central’s Connor Homans will be the No. 1 seed in Saturday’s 50 free after finishing in 22.04 seconds. Homans also helped the 200 free relay to a No. 1 seed, swimming a 21.5- second split.
“I had a lot more adrenaline going in me,” Homans said of his relay split compared to his 50 free. “My teammates were getting me going. I was ready for that swim.”
Crown Point’s Andrew Kvachkoff earned a No. 1 seed for the Bulldogs in the 100 breast (58.88).
LAPORTE | It's a proven fact that telling kids there is a monster in the pool makes them swim faster.
At this time of year many monsters in Chesterton swimsuits hang out in the middle lanes and hasten the pace of all of the aquatic action.
“When you’ve got the defending state champion -- and a team who I think will turn around and win it again next week -- it's tough with them looking to go 1, 2, 3 in every race,” Valparaiso coach Nellessen said. “You just try to make a state cut and worry about it when you get down (to Indianapolis).”
In a meet that was as quick as it was packed -- in both cases, very -- Chesterton earned the top spot in all 11 races and the top three spots in five of the eight individual races at the preliminaries of the LaPorte Sectional on Thursday night at the LaPorte Natatorium, which had its snazzy brand-new scoreboard on display.
The defending state champion Trojans are seeking a 16th consecutive sectional championship, and coach Kevin Kinel is always seeking perfection.
“On prelim nights, especially when you’re seeded high, it’s really hard to get the kids motivated, and we swam that way,” Kinel said. “We made a lot of fundamental errors, things that at this stage we shouldn’t be having.
“Overall we got the kids in position, but we’ve got to come to play on Saturday.”
Ranked No. 1 in the state in the 100-yard freestyle, Blake Pieroni might have needed extra enticement, so a coach bet him $1 he couldn’t break his sectional record in his marquee race.
The Indiana University recruit broke his old sectional record of 45.74 seconds with a time of 45.15. He also earned the top seed in the 200 individual medley. The senior is defending sectional and state champ in both races.
At press time he had yet to receive his dollar.
“Tonight is all about getting situated for the sectional finals and also seeing how we do in the prelims versus everyone else,” Pieroni said. “For me, more personal bests are on the way.”
Teammate Aaron Whitaker re-established his sectional record in the 100 backstroke with a time of 50.87. Whitaker also earned the top seed in the 100 fly. The senior is also the defending sectional and state champ in both races.
In addition to earning the No. 1 seeds in the three relays, Chesterton is set up to have four double winners as Ethan Whitaker earned the top seed in the 200 and 500 free, and Jack Wallar swam fastest in the 50 free and 100 breast.
That left swimmers such as Michigan City sophomore Timothy Schoof looking for an upset or at least a state-cut time on Saturday. Schoof had a big night, qualifying second in the 100 fly and fourth in the 50 free. He also helped the Wolves qualify second in both the 200 medley and 400 free relays.
“I knew I needed to come to race, and I did that today,” Schoof said. “My freshman year, I was disappointed I didn’t make the state cut, but I came back and won age group state (in the 100 free), so I’m hoping to be back at state next week.”
Wheeler’s Jack Fekete qualified second in the 50 free, and LaPorte freshman Ben Klimczak qualified third in the 100 back. All the other top-three qualifying spots went to Chesterton.
Even the most casual of prep sports fans around the area will immediately associate Morton High School with its now-traditionally successful football team.
Connor Davidson is trying to add his sport into the mix: boys swimming. The Governors have already begun to make a name for themselves in that scene, as Davidson placed fourth in the 50 free and fifth in the 100 free at last season's Munster Sectional. Teammate Ben Daniels finished sixth in both the 200 free and 500 free at the same meet.
However, one glaring piece of history stands out for Davidson. The Governors have not had a state qualifier since 1983, when coach Brian Rycerz' former teammate Chris Kansfield placed fourth in both the 50 and 100 free.
Davidson hopes to end that streak Saturday in the sectional finals. His best shot is in the 50 free, where he is seeded second at 22.18 seconds, behind Lake Central's Connor Homans.
"It feels really good," Davidson said of bringing Morton's program back. "Thirty-one years without getting to state or anything big; it's a really good feeling bringing something back to Morton."
Davidson, who has a season-best of 22.1 seconds, isn't just trying to hit the state cut time, he's aiming to win the 50 free. And why not? Davidson has yet to lose in the event this season and is going into the sectional feeling quite confident.
"He doesn't think he's going to lose at all," Rycerz said. "He's on cloud nine, and he knows what he has to do. All you've got to do is due what you normally do. Get in the pool and swim fast. I've never had a guy who is basically right there. He's pretty close to the standard and is swimming at the fastest pool in the state at Munster. That's going to give him confidence right there."
Davidson hasn't always had the type of confidence he now exudes. As a freshman, Davidson was basically new to competitive swimming. A short program in middle school at least gave him the ability to learn all four strokes.
"When he was a freshman, he didn't believe in himself at all," Rycerz said. "Now, he knows he's fast and he's got the confidence and knows where he needs to be."
Davidson, who will head to IUPUI for college, major in political science and possibly swim there, is ready to make his impact at Thursday's Munster Sectional preliminaries and Saturday's finals.
"I feel like I can easily drop (half a second) from the 50 just being in that pool," he said. "It's going to be a good swim."
Chesterton coach Kevin Kinel describes senior swimmer Nate Rodriguez as someone whose "cup is always full."
No matter the situation, Rodriguez routinely finds a way to accentuate the positive.
He has never qualified for the state meet, and his final opportunity comes in just one event, the 100-yard back, at the LaPorte Sectional. Prelims are at 5:30 p.m. today, and the finals start at 1 p.m. Saturday.
"I look at it that the past three years have (set me up) for this last, final shot," Rodriguez said. "I feel like I'm prepared."
Rodriguez was an age-group swimmer in Lansing, Ill. He moved to Chesterton as a fifth-grader and pulled away from the sport.
"I had moved. A lot of stuff was going on," he said. "I didn't feel comfortable swimming."
Rodriguez began to miss the sport, so he returned as a freshman. His first impressions were eye-opening, considering the pool included several future members of the 2013 state championship squad.
"I had no idea just how fast everyone was," Rodriguez said. "It was very overwhelming at first."
But he never thought about giving up, just moving up.
"I just became friends with everyone on the team," he said, "and I was just trying to get to their level."
Rodriguez made varsity last season. He competed at last year's sectional, finishing third in the 100 breast and fourth in the 50 free.
Chesterton's incoming freshman class included several talented swimmers, including Gary Kostbade (free, breast) and Wesley Slaughter (sprints). To qualify for state this year, Rodriguez would have to switch to the 100 back.
"I'd always swam breast and the individual medley, and I hadn't paid (total) attention to back," he said. "I started getting decent times and picking up my technique. I saw it as a challenge, and I was going to overcome it no matter what."
Rodriguez finished third in the Duneland Athletic Conference meet in the back. His 54.64 is his personal best, and it's more than a second off the state-cut time (53.11). Because he'll be competing against teammate and defending state champion Aaron Whitaker, the state-cut time is the realistic goal.
"I get the cut time or that's it," said Rodriguez, who will swim for Carthage College next year. "I'll have a championship suit on, and I'll be fully tapered.
"All of this is a complete shock to me. I feel lucky and thankful to have coach (Kinel). He's really helped me a lot to get to this point."
Kinel said Rodriguez had a lot to do with his own development.
"He was always just driving to continue to improve," Kinel said. "He's just been a pleasure to be around -- a great attitude. The fact that he's got to this point is a credit to him, because he didn't start here."
(Previous ranking in parentheses)
1. Chesterton (1)
2. Munster (2)
3. Crown Point (3)
4. Lake Central (4)
5. Valparaiso (5)
6. Portage (6)
7. Highland (7)
8. Rensselaer (8)
9. Michigan City (9)
10. Morton (10)
On the bubble: Bishop Noll, Kankakee Valley.
When: Preliminaries -- 5:30 p.m. today. Diving, 9 a.m. Saturday. Swimming and diving finals, 1 p.m. Saturday.
Favorite: Chesterton. Darkhorse: Valparaiso.
Participating teams: Calumet, Chesterton, Hobart, Knox, LaPorte, Merrillville, Michigan City, Portage, South Central, Valparaiso, Wheeler.
Individuals to watch: Chesterton -- Patrick Curley, Sr., IM, fly; Andy Hurst, Sr., sprints; Tony Kincaid, Sr., fly, sprints; Gary Kostbade, Fr., free, breast; Jack Kurfman, Sr., sprints; Blake Pieroni, Sr., IM, free; Nate Rodriguez, Sr., back; Wesley Slaughter, Fr., sprints; Jack Wallar, Sr., free, breast; Aaron Whitaker, Sr., back, fly; Ethan Whitaker, Sr., distance. Michigan City -- Tim Schoof, So., fly. Portage -- John Fannin, Sr., diving. South Central -- Kane Klimczak, Jr., back, fly. Valparaiso -- Andrew Antonetti, Sr., distance. Wheeler -- Jack Fekete, Jr., sprints.
Fast fact: Defending state champion Chesterton has won 15 consecutive sectional titles.
When: Swimming preliminaries, 5:30 p.m. today. Diving, 9 a.m. Saturday. Swimming and diving finals, 1 p.m. Saturday.
Teams participating: Bishop Noll, Clark, Crown Point, E.C. Central, Gavit, Griffith, Hammond, Highland, Lake Central, Lowell, Morton, Munster, North Newton, Rensselaer, South Newton.
Favorite: Munster. Darkhorse: Crown Point.
Swimmers to watch: Crown Point -- Andrew Kvachkoff, Sr., breast, IM; AJ Huls, Jr., back, free; Joey Karczewski, So., all-around; Nick Morin, Sr., fly; Sage Chiaro, Sr., diving. Highland -- Jeff Schroeder, Sr., free; Chris Dabrowski, Jr., distance; Matt Harnisch, Sr., sprints; Matt Byquist, Jr., all-around. Lake Central -- Connor Homans, Jr., sprints; Josh Barajas, Jr., IM, fly, distance; Mike DeYoung, Sr., sprints. Lowell -- Nolan Cook, Sr., distance. Morton -- Connor Davidson, Sr., sprints; Ben Daniels, Sr., distance; Mike Beatty, Sr., IM, distance. Munster -- Wilson Beckman, Jr., back, free, fly; Joey Gardner, Jr., IM, back; Collin Sroge, Sr., distance; Matt Specht, Sr., breast, free; Jacob Comanse, Jr., diving.
Fast fact: Munster has won a state-record 28 consecutive sectional championships.
— Jim Hunsley, Matt Douthett, The Times
INDIANAPOLIS | Crown Point accomplished its goal -- a second-place finish Saturday at the Girls Swimming and Diving State Finals at the IU Natatorium at IUPUI.
Junior Aly Tetzloff in the 100 fly and Hannah Kukurugya in the 500 free were crowned state champions in the process.
“It’s the best feeling,” said Kukurugya, just a freshman.
After finishing sixth last year, C.P. set a goal to finish second in the state this season, knowing what swimmers it had coming back and its incoming freshmen.
“To come down here and achieve a goal of second -- in our mind -- it’s like wining a state championship,” coach Bryon Angerman said. “And we did it with just six swimmers. We only had six athletes that were actually participating today.”
Tetzloff set a state record in the 100 fly in 52.70 -- the fourth-fastest time in the history of high school girls swimming.
“My legs, everything felt good,” Tetzloff said. “I think that’s what you need to feel in swimming.
“In the fourth 25, I knew, it looked like I was ahead so ‘Let’s just take it to them.’ I tried to go fast. I don’t know if I really did.”
After finishing second in the 200 IM, Tetzloff swam the race of her young life to win the 100 fly.
“That was amazing,” said Angerman, adding Tetzloff has the talent and desire to be a state champion.
“As a coach you can put limits on a swimmer. Between her and Hannah Kukurugya, I will never put a limit on their abilities.”
Carmel won its 28th consecutive state title with 399 points, while C.P. overcame Fishers in the final two events to finish state runner-up with 209 points. Fishers finished third with 203.
Chesterton was sixth (133.5), Munster ninth (99) and Lake Central 17th (36).
Kukurugya, who also placed second in the 200 free, just wanted to get ahead of the pack in the 500 free.
“I wanted to be really focused on my race and give it my all, and that’s exactly what I did,” she said.
Also contributing to C.P.’s high finish were the 400 free relay and 200 medley relays that placed second, while the 200 free relay took eighth.
Kelsi Artim was sixth in the 100 breast and Holly Schuster seventh to give C.P. a two-point lead over Fishers with one event left. Rachael Bukowski was ninth in the 50 free.
“In the pool when I was cooling down, I had to look up at (the board at) least five times,” Tetzloff said. “I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, that’s me.’ It was crazy.”
INDIANAPOLIS | Ten state records were broken at the state swimming and diving finals over the weekend at the IU Natatorium at IUPUI in Indianapolis.
It’s something veteran Chesterton coach Kevin Kinel hadn’t seen before.
“Never, ever,” he said.
Nine records fell during Saturday's championship and the 50 free record was broken during Friday's prelims.
“It was one of the fastest meets in history,” Highland coach Ryan Harrington said.
“It’s a tough meet and very fast,” Lake Central coach Todd Smolinski agreed.
YOUNG GUNS: Chesterton freshman Cara Kroeger placed fifth in the 100 back and sixth in the 200 IM. Sophomore Vanessa Krause was third in the 100 fly and fifth in the 50 free. The 200 free and 400 free relays, made up of freshmen and sophomores, placed fifth and sixth, respectively.
“I’m real pleased,” Kinel said. “Our kids got some really good experience that will pay off next year. We had a lot of freshmen here that really performed well.”
REGION STRONG: Outside of Carmel, Northwest Indiana is second to none. Three teams finished in the top nine with Crown Point second, Chesterton sixth and Munster ninth. Lake Central was 17th.
“They were swimming phenomenally -- Crown Point, Munster, Lake Central -- all having great meets,” said Harrington, whose squad scored four points when Jacklyn Smailis finished 12th in the 100 back.
“It’s exciting to see Northwest Indiana really represent down here”
Harrington was proud of Smailis’ effort.
“She had a great swim,” he said. “It leaves us a little motivation going into next year.”
Munster got great swims from Nikki Smith and Mary Beth Blocher. Smith was fourth in the 100 fly and took sixth in the 500 free.
“All the touches were so close,” said Smith of the 100 fly that saw C.P.’s Aly Tetzloff take gold and Krause also place in the top three. “It was just a phenomenal race from everyone.
“One-three-four, that’s amazing. It just shows the strength that the region has. It’s a pleasure being able to race those girls. Not just in the postseason, but in the regular meets that we had “
Smith also doesn’t second guess her decision to drop the 200 IM for the 500.
“I knew that was going to be a challenge,” she said. “I was close on time. I just made the most of it. I know I made the right choice. I’m ready for more next year.”
Blocher, a senior, placed eighth in the 50 and 100 free.
“Top eight has been a goal of mind since my freshman year,” she said. “I’m happy with the places I got, but the times could’ve been a little bit better. Overall, I’m happy.”
Lake Central’s Holly Spears was 12th in the 100 free, while the 200 and 400 free relays each placed 11th.
“We had a good day,” L.C. coach Todd Smolinski said. “We got two relays that scored, we got three individuals, one of our divers and our 50 and 100 girls scored.”
Flu symptoms weakened Vanessa Krause the last few weeks, but she appeared to be much healthier in Friday's state finals prelims.
The Chesterton sophomore swimmer took the top seed in the 100-yard fly (53.74) and she's seeded fourth in the 50 free (23.05).
A few weeks ago, Krause sparkled at the Duneland Athletic Conference meet, setting records in the 50 free (23.17) and 100 fly (53.88). She hadn't been able to surpass -- or even meet -- those times in the postseason.
"She's a racer and she's been looking forward to this," Kinel said of Krause, who placed fourth in the 50 free and 100 fly at last year's state meet. "It's the state meet. That's what made her step up.
"She just has to get a good night's sleep."
Today's final round begins at noon at the IUPUI Natatorium in Indianapolis.
Freshman Cara Kroeger has also been sick recently, and she also seemed to have recovered. Kroeger placed sixth in the 200 individual medley (2:02.48) and 100 back (55.56).
"She had some great swims; she's a freshman swimming in two (individual) finals," Kinel said.
Krause and Kroeger needed to be strong, since the competition was fierce in every event. Carmel's Claire Adams broke the state record in the 200 free (1:46.96) and 100 back (53.38), while teammate Amy Bilquist broke marks in the 50 free (22.15) and 100 free (49.06. Carmel also tied the meet record in the 200 medley relay (1:41.17).
"It's an incredibly fast meet," Kinel said.
Chesterton sophomore Kelly Craig qualified for two consolation heats, placing 15th in both the 200 free (1:52.24) and 100 breast (1:05.48).
Trojans freshman Caylee Casbon placed 14th in the 100 back (57.68).
Chesterton also qualified for two relay championship heats. Krause, Kroeger, Craig and Amy Socha placed sixth in the 200 free (1;36.02), while Krause, Andrea Hanas, Soccha and Craig finished fifth in the 400 free (3:29.01).
The 200 medley relay team of Casbon, Kroeger, Socha and Marita Banta-Long were ninth (1:46.8).
"The mood is good," Kinel said. "I think everyone still understands that (today) is the day (to perform)."
It was an exceptional night for Crown Point at the preliminaries of the state swimming and diving finals Friday at the Indiana University Natatorium in Indianapolis.
C.P. will have swimmers in six events and all three relays in finals with another three in consolations. Freshman Hannah Kukurugya led the way with a first in the 500 free and a second in the 200 free, while the 400 free relay of Rachael Bukowski, Aly Tetzloff, Kukurugya and Mackenzie Artim took second.
“The girls will go out and swim for some medals (today), and hopefully they can come home with some rings,” Crown Point coach Bryon Angerman said. “We set six school records.”
The top eight will vie for the state championship honors today, while those finishing nine through 16 will compete in the consolations. The diving prelims and semis begin at 8 a.m., and the finals for all events start at noon.
Munster also had a good night and advanced four swims and two relays to the finals and one in the consolations, while Lake Central got two swims and a relay on to the consolations.
“We were real happy,” said Munster coach Matt Pavlovich, whose team set five school records. “We’re real excited to see how well they can do.”
Kukurugya turned in a 4:51.76 in the 500 free, while Munster’s Nikki Smith was fifth.
In the 200 free, Kukurugya was second, and C.P.’s 200 medley relay of Tetzloff, Kelsi Artim, Kukurugya and Bukowski placed second. Tetzloff was second in the 200 IM and fourth in the 100 fly.
Munster’s Smith was second in the 100 fly, while Mary Beth Blocher advanced to the finals in both the 50 free and 100 free. She placed eighth in each to advance. Allison Cunningham finished 16th in the 200 free to advance.
“It was a real fast meet,” Pavlovich said. “The top two places in the 50 broke the state record. That’s a sign of how tough it is and the type of competition.”
C.P.’s Bukowski was 10th and L.C.’s Holly Spears was 12th in the 50 to get to the consolations. Spears placed ninth and C.P.’s Mackenzie Artim was 14th in the 100 free.
Blocher also helped Munster’s 200 free relay place fourth with Megan Wimmer, Cunningham and Smith. C.P. was seventh in the event with Bukowski, Kelsi Artim, MacKenzie Artim and Holly Schuster.
L.C’s 200 free relay of Victoria Springman, Spears, Jessica Lopez and Tracilyn Muszalski took 10th to advance to the consolations, while Springman, Muszalski, Hailey Garlich and Spears took 13th in the 400 free relay to move on.
“We swam well,” L.C. coach Todd Smolinski said. “We were hoping a few others would’ve fallen our way. It’s a chance where you get the opportunity to score some points in the events and finish as high as you can.”
Munster’s 400 free relay of Cunningham, Smith, Wimmer and Blocher was seventh.
Highland’s Jackie Smailis placed 13th in the 100 back to advance to the consolations.
“We’re really excited to have an opportunity to swim even faster (Saturday),” Highland coach Ryan Harrington said.
Aly Tetzloff, whose name is all over the record wall at the Crown Point High School pool, is going to the state finals for a third consecutive year.
You wouldn’t know it by talking to the effervescent Tetzloff about all the records she has set at Crown Point.
“Records are made to be broken,” said Tetzloff, who qualified for the state meet in the 200 IM (2:02.10) and 100 fly (54.26). Her name is on at least a half a dozen pool and school records each, which are constantly changing for the sectional champion Bulldogs.
“I think it’s cool,” she said. “I don’t know. They’re just records. Hannah (Kukurugya) broke a lot (Saturday), and other people broke a lot. The relay ones are coming down. It’s just good to see new people getting up there.”
Records aside, Tetzloff, a junior, is the top seed in both her individual events at this weekend’s state meet at the Indiana University Natatorium in Indianapolis. Preliminaries begin at 5 p.m. Friday.
She’s also part of the 400 free relay with Rachael Bukowski, Kukurugya and Mackenzie Artim and the 200 medley relay with Bukowski, Kukurugya and Kelsi Artim that are both top seeds.
“She’s a key component on our relays to get us out there,” coach Bryon Angerman said of Tetzloff. “She split a .49 on that last relay (Saturday) which is like unheard of, so she’s going to be a very key element for us at the state meet on relays and her individual events.”
Tetzloff said she has a goal to finish in the top two spots in her individual events and help the relays place at the top also.
“If we get second, I think that is great, and that will definitely build up our team’s confidence for next year,” she said. “And next year I hope we do a ton better.”
Tetzloff’s times and work ethic have attracted the attention of the top college swim programs in the country. The University of Southern California and Indiana top her list of potential schools.
“She’s been recruited by pretty much three or four schools that are in the top 10 in the nation,” Angerman said. “IU, USC, Georgia, Stanford — these are schools that are looking at her, and obviously, when you get those kind of times that are close to state records, that’s what the colleges are looking for.
“They like the fact that she trains year around. She’s very diversified from sprinting to distances. That’s essential to her as a swimmer and as an athlete.”
Angerman said Tetzloff is a leader in and out of the pool.
“She leads by example for what she does in the pool,” he said.
Aubrey Wing did enough waiting at Saturday's Chesterton Sectional, so she wanted to avoid repeating that process the next day.
The Trojans freshman swimmer competed in just one race, the 100-yard breast finals, and it was 11th of 12 events. She matched the state-cut time of 1:07.08 in the 100 breast and advanced to Friday's state prelims.
Instead of pacing at home and waiting for Sunday's calldown non-automatic-qualifier list to be released, Wing could relax — something she had some difficulty doing at the sectional.
"I knew it was my one chance, and I really wanted it," said Wing, who swam her personal-best time by almost a second. "I was pretty nervous ... I had the whole meet (to wait)."
She fought off some tension listening to music, visualizing her race and cheering on teammates.
"Everyone was also cheering for me, and that really helped me," Wing said. "I knew the (state-cut) time before I even started the race, and then I got it. It was amazing."
She credits sophomore Kelly Craig for providing a lift. Craig broke the sectional record in the race (1:05.86).
"I understood that she was probably going to beat me, because she has more experience," Wing said of Craig. "She pushed me so much."
That boost might have been the difference. The state field in the 100 breast is comprised solely of automatic qualifiers, and she claimed the last spot by two hundreths of a second.
"I was mostly tapered; I had to give it my all," said Wing, who is seeded 24th. "At the beginning of the season, I wasn't sure that I would be able to qualify."
She started the year in the 1:10s, then she placed fourth at the Duneland Athletic Conference meet (1:08.9).
"We needed every point in that meet, so the pressure was on," said Wing, who helped the Trojans edge Crown Point. "That helped me go pretty fast."
Wing has been swimming since she was in first grade, and Chesterton coach Kevin Kinel already knew she had big-meet experience in age-group meets.
"She's definitely a racer," he said. "Part of me is amazed, but then part of me isn't because that's just the way she is. She's stepped up in big meets and started to believe in herself."
Kinel also thinks that confidence comes through working with many of her teammates. The Trojans have five freshmen and two sophomores in individual prelim heats at the IUPUI Natatorium.
"No doubt seeing her peers (qualify for state) helps," Kinel said. "Seeing people who you practice with drop times has got to make you feel like you can do it."
Only the top 16 times qualify for Saturday's finals, and Kinel isn't counting Wing out.
"It's a good bet not to bet against her," Kinel said. "I'm sure she's happy and excited to make it to state, but I'm not sure she's satisfied — and we wouldn't want her to be."
Where: Indiana University Natatorium at IUPUI, 901 W. New York St., Indianapolis.
When: Swimming preliminaries, 5 p.m. Friday; diving preliminaries and semifinals, 8 a.m. Saturday; consolation and finals in all events, noon Saturday. (All times region)
Tickets: $8 per session or $12 season pass.
Webcast: www.ihsaatv.org (live on Saturday).
Favorite: Carmel. Darkhorse: Chesterton.
Top seeds and local qualifiers
200 MEDLEY RELAY -- 1. Crown Point 1:43.81, 10. Chesterton 1:47.17, 19. Munster 1:50.25, 24. Lake Central 1:51.77.
200 FREE -- 1. Hannah Kukurugya (Crown Point) 1:48.8, 6. Allison Cunningham (Munster) 1:51.93, 14. Kelly Craig (Chesterton) 1:52.97, 20. Mackenzie Artim (Crown Point) 1:54.11,
200 I.M. -- 1. Aly Tetzloff (Crown Point) 2:02.1, 6. Cara Kroeger (Chesterton) 2:03.5, 9. Kelsi Artim (Crown Point) 2:05.37, 16. Tracilyn Muszalski (Lake Central) 2:07.8.
50 FREE -- 1. Amy Bilquist (Carmel) 22.8, 3. Vanessa Krause (Chesterton) 23.36, 10. Holly Spears (Lake Central) 23.82, 15. Mary Beth Blocher (Munster) 24.02, 17. Racheal Bukowski (Crown Point) 24.18, 22. Victoria Springman (Lake Central) 24.48, 24. Andrea Hanas (Chesterton) 24.51.
DIVING -- 1. Sarah Bacon (Indianapolis Ritter) 522.3, 16. Kallie Higgins (Lake Central) 395.15, 19. Abigail Prince (Lake Central) 386.5, 22. Caitlyn Gilbert (Munster) 360.6.
100 FLY -- 1. Aly Tetzloff (Crown Point) 54.26, 2. Nikki Smith (Munster) 54.57, 5. Krause (Chesterton) 54.95, 26. Holly Schuster (Crown Point) 58.02.
100 FREE -- 1. Bilquist (Carmel) 50.18, 7. Spears (Lake Central) 51.87, 9. Blocher (Munster) 52.02, 11. M. Artim (Crown Point) 52.16, 22. Hanas (Chesterton) 53.14.
500 FREE -- 1. Abbegayle Schneider (Fishers) 4:52.12, 3. Kukurugya (Crown Point) 4:53.69, 6. Smith (Munster) 4:57.72, 15. Cunningham (Munster) 5:02.83, 16. Amy Socha (Chesterton) 5:03.69, 18. Muszalski (Lake Central) 5:05.48,
200 FREE RELAY -- 1. Carmel 1:35.93, 2. Munster 1:36.17, 5. Crown Point 1:36.42, 7. Chesterton 1:36.91, 8. Lake Central 1:37.14.
100 BACK -- 1. Breanna Robinson (Wawasee) 54.65, 5. Kroeger (Chesterton) 56.16, 13. Jacklyn Smailis (Highland) 57.58, 14. Caylee Casbon (Chesterton) 57.63, 23. Audrey Mayer (Munster) 59.47.
100 BREAST -- 1. Lillia King (Evansville Reitz) 1:00.8, 5. K. Artim (Crown Point) 1:04.05, 10. Schuster (Crown Point) 1:04.63, 17. Craig (Chesterton) 1:05.86, 24. Aubrey Wing (Chesterton) 1:07.08.
400 FREE RELAY -- 1. Crown Point 3:24.39, 4. Munster 3:29.11, 8. Chesterton 3:32.23, 10. Lake Central 3:33.47.
Advancement: The top 16 in each swimming event during Friday's prelims will return for competition Saturday with the top eight individuals vying for state championship honors. Those finishing nine through 16 on Friday advance to the consolation heats. All diving will take place Saturday with the top 21 of 32 competitors advancing from the prelims to the semis after five dives each. After three dives each in the semis, the top 16 will advance to the final round for another three dives each.
Fast fact: Top-ranked Carmel has 27 consecutive state titles, the longest active streak in the nation.
Directions: I-65 south to Exit 114 (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr St./West St.). Turn right onto W. Michigan Street, left on N. University Boulevard, then left on W. New York Street.
MISHAWAKA | Lake Central was less than single point away from sending three divers to state at the Penn Regional on Tuesday.
Kallie Higgins and Abigail Prince placed third and fourth, respectively, to advance. Teammate Hannah Leyba just missed the cut, falling 0.9 points shy of South Bend St. Joseph's Lindsey Staszewski for the eighth and final spot.
"We certainly wanted to get that three-for-three, but it is a wonderful learning experience for Hannah," Lake Central diving coach Tommy Slivka said. "Hannah has never been to this meet before, and will be committed year-round to try to pull it off next year."
Samantha Reese of South Bend St. Joseph won the regional for the second consecutive year, posting a 405.95 and edging Concord's Lauren Boone (403.65).
Lake Central and South Bend St. Joseph were the only two schools to send a pair of divers to the Satuday's state final at the IUPUI Natatorium.
Higgins finished with a 395.15, while Prince followed with a 386.5.
"Kallie is a monster competitor," Slivka said. "She works so hard and it was an unexpected finish for her to do so well."
Prince, Slivka says, is Lake Central's most-consistent diver.
"Every dive in practice is on the money and that is the key for these competitions," he said.
Also qualifying for state were Penn's Danielle Forbes (377.15), Munster's Caitlyn Gilbert (360.6), Northridge's Jenna Denlinger (342.15) and Staszewski (340).
Slivka's expectations for Higgins and Prince are sky high.
"I'm looking for them both to make the state final (round)," he said. "They are both strong competitors and the goal is to get them both in the top 16."
Chesterton Sectional champ Taylor McBride of Valparaiso placed 14th (227.1).
MUNSTER | Munster’s Joey Gardner had plenty of time to get himself mentally and physically prepared for Monday’s Northwest Crossroads Conference swim meet.
Gardner swam the 200 individual medley in 1:56.03, eclipsing the old NCC record of 1:56.56, set in 2011 by former Seahorse Dillon Thompson.
Even though the meet took place nine days after the original date due to two weather postponements, Gardner was still able to lock into the task at hand.
“I always looked up to Dillon ever since I started swimming,” Gardner said. “(It feels great) to beat one of my idol’s records. I knew I had a chance at beating the meet record, so I started getting really pumped.
"I knew what I wanted to do, and I had that motivation, so I went for it.”
Gardner also won the 100 fly (52.76) and swam a leg on both the winning 200 free and 400 free relays for the Seahorses, helping lead Munster to 414 points and another NCC championship.
The Seahorses won nine of the 12 events, including freshman James Svolos’ personal-best 57.60 seconds in the 100 back.
“I thought Svolos looked very strong from the get-go,” Munster coach Matt Pavlovich said. “He had good underwaters off the start and good turnover. He has a very pretty stroke, and I’ve been trying to stress to him all year the capabilities he has in the backstroke.
"Over the next year or two, he’s going to get faster and faster.”
Other individual wins for Munster were Wilson Beckman in the 50 free (21.80) and 100 free (47.81) and Jack Wulf in the 100 breast (1:03.32). The Seahorses also won the 200 medley relay (1:45.65).
Highland placed second with 314 points, getting wins from Chris Dabrowski in the 200 free (1:50.78) and 500 free (4:59.17).
“I felt like I could have done better, but I’m still happy,” Dabrowski said. “It’s promising to see those times, because sectionals will be a lot better.”
Highland’s other win came from Mitch Mastey in diving (404.70). That score gives him hope for a strong performance at the Munster Sectional.
“I felt confident,” he said. “I trained really hard this summer. I just wanted to dive hard. I’m going to keep training.
"There’s a lot of tough guys in our sectional, but I’m going to try hard.”
When: 5 p.m. today.
Advancement: Top eight qualify for Saturday's IHSAA state finals.
Defending champion: Samantha Reese, South Bend St. Joseph.
Favorite: Reese, South Bend St. Joseph.
Darkhorse: Abigail Prince, Lake Central
Divers to watch: Lauren Boone, Concord; Jenna Denlinger, Northridge; Danielle Forbes, Penn; Kallie Higgins, Lake Central; Hannah Leyba, Lake Central; Taylor McBride, Valparaiso; Prince, Lake Central; Reese, South Bend St. Joseph; Alexandria Roskos, Elkhart Memorial; Lindsey Staszewski, South Bend St. Joseph; Emily Yoder, Goshen.
Fast fact: Reese is the lone top-five finisher returning from last year's regional.
CHESTERTON | Cara Kroeger realized early on that this would be a special day in the pool.
"In the first relay, I saw my split," the Chesterton freshman said. "I thought it would be a good day."
Kroeger helped the hosts set a sectional mark in the 200-yard medley relay (1:4717) on Saturday afternoon, just the beginning of a record performance for the state-ranked No. 3 Trojans.
Chesterton picked up its 15th consecutive sectional crown in dominating fashion, scoring a program-record 571 points. The Trojans broke seven meet marks and five pool records.
In the eight individual swimming events, the Trojans took all of the top two spots and swept the top three positions six times.
"That was a heckuva meet today," Chesterton coach Kevin Kinel said. "We've been dealing with sicknesses the last couple of weeks. With the (bad) weather, we haven't been able to practice.
"I was pleased up and down (the lineup). We set ourselves up for the state meet."
Kroeger broke sectional and pool marks with her times in the 200 individual medley (2:03.5) and 100 back (56.16). Sophomore teammate Vanessa Krause broke her own pool and sectional records in the 100 fly (54.94) and also set pool and sectional marks in the 50 free (23.36).
Both Kroeger and Krause have been dealing with flu-like systems. The times were somewhat unexpected by the freshman.
"I was doing everything I could (to get healthy), and I was out of the pool a couple of days," Kroeger said. "I'm a little surprised."
Krause, junior Brittany Borzych, freshman Andrea Hanas and sophomore Kelly Craig teamed up to break the sectional and pool record in the 200 free relay (1:36.91).
Craig broke a 20-year-old sectional mark in the 100 breast, finishing in 1:05.86. She also won the 200 free (1:52.97).
Hanas won the 100 free (53.14). Freshman Caylee Casbon bettered the state-cut time in the 100 back (57.63), while classmate Aubrey Wing matched it in the 100 breast (1:07.08).
"I feel like we can go faster," Kinel said.
After an up-and-down regular season, Valparaiso diver Taylor McBride won the title with a personal-best 367.3. She is one of four qualifiers for Tuesday's Penn Regional.
"It feels pretty good, all of the hard work paid off," she said. "This definitely gives me some confidence."
CROWN POINT | Crown Point didn’t want to leave the festive pool deck -- six years is a long time.
No. 1 Crown Point wrapped up its first sectional title since 2008 in dramatic fashion Saturday, dethroning five-time defending champion Munster 489-477.
“Amazing” said senior Holly Schuster, who qualified for state in the 100 fly and played a key role with her second in the 100 breast. “We worked toward this our whole season. All four years we’ve wanted this, and finally my last year, we got this.”
Entering the 100 breast, the 10th event, No. 3 Munster led CP by seven points. CP swam to its seeds, as Kelsi Artim and Schuster finished 1-2 and Alex St. Amour took fifth to put the hosts up by six points with just the 400 free relay left.
“We knew we could hold our seeds, and we knew Alex could pull through and get us more points today,” Schuster said.
CP led 449-443 after the 100 breast and won the 400 free to wrap up the coveted title.
“The girls had a goal at the beginning of the year. They wanted to be undefeated in dual meets, they were. They wanted to win sectionals, and they did,” coach Bryon Angerman said.
“Now, the goal is to be in the top three at the state meet. At this point now, I’d like to not wait (six) years to win the next sectional title.”
Munster coach Matt Pavlovich knew going in that Crown Point was going to be tough to beat.
“I can’t get over how well our girls did today,” he said. “They really fought. They have a lot to be proud of. They really responded through a lot of adversity today, and they swam like sectional champions today.”
The Seahorses showed their mettle as Allison Cunningham (200 free), Mary Beth Blocher (50 free, 100 free), Nikki Smith (100 fly, 500 free) all made the state cut. The 200 free relay won to advance, while the 400 free relay made the state standard as well.
“Every pool record is gone except for the 100 back,” Angerman said.
Lake Central’s Holly Spears won the 50 and 100 free to advance, Abigail Prince won the diving title, while its 200 free and 400 free relays made the state cut.
Tracilyn Muszalski will also make the trip to Indy in the 200 IM and 500 free.
Highland’s Jackie Smailis won the 100 back to advance to state. K.V.’s Madison Babicka fell short of her goal to qualify in the 50 free but set school records in the 50 and 100 free and as part of the 200 and 400 free relays.
But it was Crown Point’s day, as freshman phenom Hannah Kukurugya won the 200 and 500 free in stunning fashion, while Aly Tetzloff took the 200 IM and 100 fly and all three relays advanced to state.
“Munster put in a good fight,” Tetzloff said. "Everyone did really good actually.”
CROWN POINT | Thursday’s preliminaries at the Crown Point Sectional served as a dress rehearsal for Saturday’s finals.
The host Bulldogs gabbed the top billing with eight of the 11 No. 1 seeds.
“We got ourselves set up for Saturday,” said Crown Point coach Bryon Angerman, whose Bulldogs are looking for their first title since 2007.
Diving preliminaries are at 9 a.m. and the swimming and diving finals are at 1 p.m.
Crown Point’s Aly Tetzloff and Hannah Kukurugya each won two No.1 seeds in individual events. Tetzloff won the 200 IM and 100 fly, while Kukurugya won the 200 and 500 frees.
“I added time from my personal bests, but it’s the first day of sectionals and I have another day to go,” Tetzloff said. “I think I’ll improve. I hope I improve at least.”
Holly Schuster was the top seed in the 100 breast for Crown Point, which also took the top spot in all three relays.
“They swam really, really good today, and there was a lot of time drop,” Tetzloff said of her teammates. “I’m really excited how we’re going into Saturday.”
Angerman said everyone will take it up a notch in the finals.
“Come Saturday, you’re really going to see some fast swimming up and down from all the teams,” Angerman said. “I think Lake Central, Munster, and Highland had a couple girls in there. It’s really going to be a fast meet.
“There’s going to be three or four girls going down to state in some events, and normally you get one or two. This is one of the fastest sectionals in the state.”
Angerman said the ultimate goal is the state meet, but the girls really want to win the sectional.
“We’re in a position now to be right there with Munster.” he said.
Munster’s Mary Beth Blocher was the top seed in the 50 free, while Highland’s Jacklyn Smailis was No. 1 in the 100 back. Lake Central’s Victoria Springman was first in the 100 free.
Angerman said all his 14 swimmers set out what they wanted to do in the prelims.
“We treated today with some of those just like a practice for them, and then Saturday is our big meet,” Angerman said.
CHESTERTON | Chesterton has won 14 consecutive girls swimming sectional championships, a streak dating back to 2000.
Thursday’s Chesterton Sectional preliminaries left little doubt on the table that 15 straight titles was firmly set in the Trojans’ minds.
The Trojans own the top seed in every swimming event heading into Saturday's finals.
"The prelims are always difficult because we’re seeded pretty well and you’re not swimming tapered or anything like that, so it’s hard,” Chesterton coach Kevin Kinel said. “We were a little complacent today, but we had some nice swims. We just really have to come to play Saturday.”
Flu-like symptoms have traveled around the team in recent weeks, and sophomore Vanessa Krause was one of the hardest hit. Krause got in just one practice last week and was held out of relays Thursday. The recent weather also has played a factor in practices being canceled.
Despite that, Krause still managed to finish first in the 50 free (23.64), tying the sectional record set two years ago by Chesterton alum Olivia Kabacinski.
Krause admitted to not feeling well in both the 50 free and the 100 fly (56.72).
“Obviously, my times showed that I wasn’t really prepared, and I just kind of doubted myself before both my races today,” Krause said. “I need to learn not to do that.”
Cara Kroeger was also hit by the flu bug. The freshman still took the 200 IM (2:07.66) and 100 back (58.52).
“I felt all right,” Kroeger said. “I’m hoping for some better times on Saturday and just get a little more excitement in the pool.”
Chesterton also holds the top-three seeds in the 200 free, 200 IM, 50 free, 100 fly and 500 free as the Trojans flexed their muscles with their depth.
“It’s exciting,” Krause said of defending the sectional championship on Saturday. “It’s nice to look forward to something, have another championship and have coach (Kinel) go off the diving board.”
MacKenzie Dunlap has yet to have a practice for the Kankakee Valley softball team and coach Brian Flynn. But the power-hitting middle infielder already has her college commitment confirmed.
Dunlap, a member of the Kougars girls basketball team, verbally committed to play softball for coach Kate Drohan at Northwestern.
Some standout performances with the Beverly Bandits 14-and-under travel softball team opened this door of opportunity. Two visits to Evanston was all the ninth-grader needed.
"It was awesome," Dunlap said on Tuesday. "The girls on the team and the coaches were great. I knew this was the place I wanted to play."
Ohio State had also offered Dunlap, and she was high on Michigan's recruiting sheet as well. But the honor roll student wanted to attend a college was a great academic history. -- Steve Hanlon
A simple twist of fate: Bowman Academy wide receiver Laron Golden verballed to play football at Northern Illinois in Sept. of 2012. The goal of playing for one of America's top mid-major programs was realized.
Then, Huskies coach Dave Doeren left to take the position at North Carolina State, and it was time for Golden to start the recruiting process all over again.
"I didn't fit what the new coaching staff was looking for in a wide receiver," said Golden, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound defensive back as well.
Golden, though, became his school's first Division I recruit in football on Wednesday when he signed on at Austin Peay University. He will be a roommate of Morton's David Wall.
"Everything worked out great," Golden said. "If one door shuts another one opens. I'm very excited about this opportunity and can't wait to get to Tennessee." -- Steve Hanlon
Big game cancelled: The Bowman Academy-Chicago Curie game that was supposed to be played in the Windy City last Saturday night never happened. And it had nothing to do with the weather.
"They didn't want to play us, so they dropped out," Bowman coach Marvin Rea said. "They moved up to No. 2 in the nation in some polls and they said playing us was too risky." -- Steve Hanlon
Twin sisters avoid tension: Chesterton freshman Andrea Hanas and her twin sister Alexys each played in the state golf finals last fall.
Things are different this winter. Andrea is swimming in the 50- and 100-yard free for the state No. 3-ranked Trojans this weekend at the Chesterton Sectional. Alexys has been unable to crack the starting lineup.
Andrea said Alexys' pet event is the 100 fly. Sophomore teammate Vanessa Krause owns the state's top-posted time in the fly (53.88).
The twins have an understanding which takes away the friction.
"We're kind of competitive, but we both have our strong and weak points," Andrea said. "(Alexys) does train hard.
"We're there to help each other out." -- Jim Hunsley
When Nikki Smith swam the 500 free in a dual meet with Lake Central two weeks ago, she had no idea it would be a record-setting night.
“Honestly, I wasn’t really feeling too good when I was swimming it,” said Smith, a junior standout.
Smith finished the event in 4:57.85, eclipsing the school record held by Pam Selby-Harmon for 32 years by .06 seconds.
“I was actually surprised when I touched the wall and saw it,” she said. “We had a good idea that it was a record, but we weren’t sure. We just had to confirm it.”
Smith’s outstanding time in the 500 presented her and coach Matt Pavlovich with a dilemma. Smith has been swimming the 200 IM and 100 fly for two seasons and placed ninth in the state in the 200 IM and fifth in the 100 fly last season.
Should she keep swimming the 200 IM at sectional or enter the 500 free instead? Smith and her coach decided to enter her in the 500 free, the 100 fly and two relays.
“It’s a tough decision because she’s the school record-holder in the 200 IM,” Pavlovich said. “The 4:57 is kind of hard to ignore. It will be a little bit of a change. The 200 IM is such a loaded event downstate.”
Smith hated to give up the 200 IM but is pumped for the possibilities in swimming the 500 free.
“We definitely checked out and looked at all the different factors,” she said. “We thought the best decision for me would be the 500 free instead of the IM.”
The winning time in last year’s state meet was 4:53, and only three of the top three finishers were underclassmen, including Lake Central Traci Muszalski. Five of the top eight finishers in the 200 IM will likely return.
“She’s going to swim the 100 fly and the 500 free. Those two events are close together, but she’s a tough kid,” Pavlovich said.
He admits it’s a bit of a gamble, but one worth taking for Smith to become a state champion.
“You never know what people will do,” he said. “Then there’s always the chance that other teams are thinking the same thing.”
Smith believes her training will make for a smooth transition.
“The biggest change is you mindset, and I feel I have a pretty good grasp on that,” she said. “I think that’s the hardest part.”
The quest begins in tonight’s Crown Point Sectional preliminaries.
“We’re just going to go out and give it our all,” Smith said.
When: Preliminaries — 5:30 p.m. today. Diving prelims, 9 a.m.; swimming and diving finals, 1 p.m. Saturday.
Defending champ: Chesterton.
Participating teams: Calumet, Chesterton, Hobart, Knox, LaPorte, Merrillville, Michigan City, North Judson, Portage, South Central, Valparaiso, Wheeler.
Individuals to watch: Chesterton — Kelly Craig, So., distance, breast; Vanessa Krause, So., fly, free; Andrea Hanas, Fr., sprints; Cara Kroeger, Fr., IM, back; Amy Socha, Fr., distance. Hobart -- Kaylee Gubricky, Jr., free, breast. LaPorte -- Lauren McQuarters, back, distance. Michigan City -- Allie Ormsby, Sr., diving. Portage -- Nancy Michko, Fr., distance. South Central — Cameron Klimczak, Fr., sprints, distance. Valparaiso — Taylor McBride, Jr., diving. Wheeler — Rachel Metzger, So., distance, fly; Gabi Gilliana, Fr., breast, IM.
Fast fact: Chesterton has won 14 consecutive titles.
Crown Point Sectional
When: Preliminaries -- 5:30 p.m. today. Diving prelims, 9 a.m.; swimming and diving finals, 1 p.m., Saturday.
Defending champ: Munster.
Favorite: Crown Point.
Participating teams: Crown Point, E.C. Central, Griffith, Hammond, Clark, Gavit, Morton, Bishop Noll, Highland, Kankakee Valley, Lake Central, Lowell, Munster, North Newton, Rensselaer Central, South Newton.
Individuals to watch: Crown Point -- Rachael Bukowski, Sr., 50, 100 free; Holly Schuster, Sr., IM, 500 free; Aly Tetzloff, Jr., fly, back; Hannah Kukuruga, Fr., distances. Highland -- Jackie Smailis, Jr., sprint, frees, back; Jesenia Zendejas, Sr., distances. Kankakee Valley -- Madison Babicka, Sr., sprints, fly: Abbey Sittema, Sr., IM, distances. Lake Central -- Traci Muszalski, Sr., distance; Holly Spears, Sr., sprints; Abby Prince, Sr.m diving. Munster -- Mary Bridget Baeza, Jr., IM, breast; Mary Beth Blocher, Sr., sprints; Allison Cunningham, Jr., distances; Ashley Hwang, Sr., fly, free, breast; Nikki Smith, Jr., fly, IM.
Fast fact: Munster has won 25 sectionals, including the past five years.
— Compiled by Jim Hunsley and Christopher Breach
(previous rankings in parentheses; NR = not rated)
1. Crown Point (1)
2. Chesterton (2)
3. Munster (3)
4. Lake Central (4)
5. Valparaiso (5)
6. Highland (6)
7. LaPorte (7)
8. Michigan City (8)
9. Portage (9)
10. Kankakee Valley (10)
On the bubble: Bishop Noll, Hobart, Lowell, Merrillville.
Whether she's on the golf course or in the swimming pool, Chesterton freshman Andrea Hanas is a quick study.
Hanas started swimming five years ago, golf a year later. She said she's only become serious with golf the last two years. She tied for 69th at last fall's state golf meet.
While others have started at a much-younger age in the water, Hanas is quite competitive. At last year's state age-group long course meet, she placed in the top 40 in five events in the 13-14 year-old division.
She's the top seed in the 100-yard free and a one of the top-three swimmers in the 50 free for today's Chesterton Sectional prelims.
"I'm very determined," Hanas said. "I do feel like I'm a quick learner."
She also receives valuable support at home. Hanas' father Walter played golf at Valparaiso University while her mother, Loree, was a standout swimmer at Merrillville High School. Andrea said her mother set a few school records at the time.
"They both were successful," Andrea said. "They made me understand about the commitments you have to make."
Chesterton swimming coach Kevin Kinel understands that Hanas is a natural athlete, but she has other attributes to help her succeed.
"Being an athlete helps," Kinel said. "She's a pretty smart girl. She understands the strategies and schemes.
"She's also very driven. She's pretty determined."
Though she's a freshman, Hanas already has experience in high-pressure prep situations. She helped the Trojans golf team advance to state.
In the pool, she placed third in the 50 and fourth in the 100 free at the Duneland Athletic Conference meet on Jan. 18, an event that included state No. 2 Crown Point, No. 3 Trojans and No. 18 Lake Central.
Hanas' points proved crucial in Chesterton's 15th-straight meet crown.
"In golf, we were considered the underdog and we had to prove ourselves," she said, "At the DAC meet, we realized that everyone on the team was important."
Hanas is the favorite in the 100 free at the sectional, and she hopes to make state in the 50 — with a little help from teammate Vanessa Krause, who owns the third-quickest time in the state this year (23.16).
"(Krause is) someone that I'm just trying to keep up with," Hanas said. "If I can stay with her, I can still have a good time. She pushes you; it's great competition."
Hanas hopes to swim at the state meet and cap a satisfying initial prep season.
"I realize I'm just a freshman, and I have three more years," she said. "I'm feeling good."
CHESTERTON | Mother Nature could do nothing to derail the Chesterton boys swim team Monday night.
The Trojans broke seven Duneland Athletic Conference records and three pool records while rolling to their 18th consecutive conference championship on Monday night, outscoring runner-up Crown Point 530-342.
The annual meet is normally held on a Saturday, but was postponed to Monday night because of last weekend's weather.
“You could take all of my other 33 years of doing this and I’m not sure I’ve seen the kind of delays and postponements that we’ve seen this year,” Chesterton coach Kevin Kinel said. “There’s a tendency to be a little lethargic on a Monday night in a different atmosphere, but the kids rose to the occasion and did what we needed to do.”
The Trojans set the tone from the jump on Monday night, breaking a six-year old record in the 200 medley relay with a time of 1 minute, 33.66 seconds. It was the first of several meet records that went to for Aaron Whitaker, Blake Pieroni, Gary Kostbade and Jack Wallar. Aaron Whitaker broke pool records in the 100 butterfly (48.20) and the 100 backstroke (49.15). The 100 back record was formerly held by Crown Point’s Paul Schmidt (2002, 52.22) and Whitaker’s win meant the Trojans are in possession of every DAC record.
“It’s nice to see that we have people that cover the whole spectrum,” Whitaker said. “We’re keeping the tradition alive. It gives me gratitude that we’re able to do this for Coach (Kinel).”
Pieroni broke Kyle Whitaker’s 2010 mark (1:40.99) in the 200 free with a 1:39.12 and then added a pool record in the 100 free (44.56), breaking Seth Barry’s (Chesterton) mark of 45.97 in 2002.
“We still have work in front of us,” Pieroni said. “It’s a little tedious getting ready for sectionals, but the state prelims are when things start to get big.”
Ethan Whitaker added wins in the 200 IM (1:57.63) and 500 free (4:41.54), while Wallar won the 50 free (22.07) and 100 breast (58.45). The pair joined Pieroni and Kostbade to win the 200 free relay with a DAC-record 1:25.90. The Trojans capped off the night by setting a conference record in the 400 free relay (3:11.23) as well.
“We’re excited about the end of the season,” Kinel said. “This (process) has been crazy and a little hard, but it’s very rewarding. We had a lot of great swimming tonight.”
SCHERERVILLE | Michaela Spears' favorite swim stroke is the butterfly.
Not because it's the easiest or the one she does the best. Rather, it's because it's not on either front.
"It's a challenge," said the Schererville 10-year-old. "It takes a lot of strength and endurance, and because it's so hard makes me want to improve at it even more."
At the Mid-States Swim Championships held Jan. 4 at the IUPUI Natatorium in Indianapolis, Spears led Team Indiana to a convincing victory over Team Kentucky, Team Ohio and Team Michigan with five individual wins in the 10-and-under girls division.
The wins — the most of any Mid-States competitor — were in the 200 yard individual medley (2 minutes, 23.93 seconds), 50 breaststroke (35.43), 100 breaststroke (1:17.57), 200 freestyle (2:08.85) and 100 backstroke (1:08.94).
Michaela was also part of the winning 200 medley relay team (2:06.64) with Rachel Stange, Madelyn Christman and Adisyn Sawaska.
Aside from the 50-yard leg in 200 IM, about the only stroke Michaela didn't win at Mid-States was the butterfly. But the year before at Mid-States while competing as a 9-year-old, Michaela earned perhaps her most coveted prize in the 50 butterfly.
"I made a deal with her ... if she could get on the podium (top eight) for four events, she could get a dog," Michaela's father, Michael Spears said. "She originally wanted a cell phone, but I thought she was still too young for that, so I figure if I offered her a dog, she would go for that instead."
Early on, Michaela made the top eight in three events, but it looked doubtful she would get her fourth.
"She was ranked 23rd in preliminary times going in the finals of her final event," Michael Spears said, "so I didn't think she had much of a chance."
But Michaela was not to be denied as she finished seventh. Prince, her black-and-white Pomeranian, is the result of her against-the-odds achievement.
Though the Spears family moved to Schererville five years ago, Michaela and her 13-year-old sister Savanna still swim for the Lansing Swim Organization.
"We like the coach," Michaela said of LSO's Art Czarobski, who also helped train Michaela's oldest sister, Holly, a senior at Lake Central.
Like sisters who transfer hand-me-down clothes to their younger siblings, the Spears sisters do that with LSO team records. Savanna had usurped many of Holly's former records, and Michaela has bested most of Savanna's 9-10 age-group marks.
"I doesn't bother me," Savanna said. "I know I helped push her to break those records, and they still stay in the family."
The LSO participates in the Indiana Age Group Championships. At the most recent long-course summer championships, Michaela won golds in the 100 backstroke and 100 breaststroke.
Curiously, Michaela takes greater pride in her state championships than she does from her Mid-States titles, though the latter came against topnotch stringent-qualifying swimmers from four states.
"I like swimming at state more because I swim against people I know," Michaela said. "Going against rivals motivates me."
MUNSTER | Munster is well-known for its age-group swimming program, training countless prospective swimmers from a young age in preparation for the rigors of high school competition at a school known for its storied swimming history.
However, Seahorses junior Collin Sroge is cut from a different cloth.
Sroge grew up playing basketball, baseball and soccer and didn't give swimming a try until his sister, Laine, urged him to jump in the water and compete for the first time at age 12.
Now, Sroge has emerged as one of the best distance swimmers on a Seahorses' squad that hopes to defend its Northwest Crossroads Conference title Saturday.
"I feel really good about my swimming now," Sroge said. "I'm up with the big guys now. I'm up with Joey Gardner and Wilson Beckman. Freshman year, I couldn't even come close to them, and now I'm on their tail."
As a freshman, Sroge typically swam the 500 free in a little less than six minutes. He has since cut that time to a personal best 5:02.
His 200 free has dropped from around 2:10 to 1:51 in that same span. Both of those PRs came in a Jan. 23 dual meet against Lake Central.
"He's having a really good year," Munster coach Matt Pavlovich said. "He's been steadily improving and really stepping up for us. It's a testament to his hard work and his attitude. He's got a lot to be proud of, and we're proud of him, too."
The 500 free is the marathon of swimming.
Swim it too fast, and you'll fizzle out at the end. Sroge's discipline has helped him become a good distance swimmer.
"It's really hard," he said. "You have to know when to push yourself, how hard to push yourself, when too much is, and to be able to stay through the entire time."
At last season's Crown Point Sectional, Sroge placed 11th in the 500 free (5:15.23) and seventh in the 200 free (1:56.99).
His personal bests this season would put him in the top five for both events. He may have a spot on the 400 free relay, as well, an event he has participated in during recent dual meets.
"I obviously want to do better at sectionals and place higher in both of my events," Sroge said. "If I try hard enough, I can be on the 400 free relay and we can possibly take that relay to state and do something with that."
Portage diver John Fannin is no stranger to postseason heartache.
Two years ago, he missed the regional by 16.2 points. Last winter, he missed the last round of the state finals by a mere 3.05 points.
Instead of pouting about the past, the Indians senior has honed his focus even more in his final prep campaign.
"It gives me motivation," Fannin said. "I think it just gives me more fire to keep going and get better."
Fannin made strides as a junior, finishing fourth at the Duneland Athletic Conference meet (395.2), third at sectional (411.5) and sixth at regional (394.65). His reverse 2 1/2 somersault tuck (3.0 degree of difficulty) helped him compete with divers like two-time state champion Joshua Arndt of LaPorte. Unfortunately for Fannin, he faltered on that dive in the semifinal round of state and finished with 259 points.
"That was the dive that was pulling me through, and then I missed it," Fannin said. "I was kind of hesitant to do that dive with everything that happened."
That attitude changed this offeason, and now Fannin is at a point where that is one of his most reliable dives.
"I just had to make sure that everything was there and eliminate the possibility of something going wrong," he said. "I just had to tell myself I could do it, and I also worked on my muscle memory."
Fannin also spent time in front of a television, watching his dives and breaking down the movements.
"It shows you what you're doing wrong," said Fannin, who hasn't lost this season. "I've learned where I need to be patient."
Fannin also learned a new dive for his rotation, a back 2 1/2 somersault tuck (3.0).
"I knew he could do it," Portage diving coach Joe Hulse said. "It's inevitable. He'll have to learn it for college."
Fannin would love to dive at the next level, but his focus is on Saturday's DAC meet. Arndt and a few other of the league's top divers have graduated, giving Fannin a chance to win the title.
With the confidence of a new dive and more consistency with the rest of his lineup, Fannin is looking forward to the final stage of his prep career.
"(The DAC meet) is basically setting up for what sectional and regional might be," Fannin said. "It's just a meet I have to have fun with.
"I know now if I miss a dive, I can just brush it off and do the next one. I've put in the training to be good in the postseason. ... I just need to finish out the season with no regrets. I've done everything I could."
Duneland Athletic Conference
When: 9 a.m. diving, 1 p.m. finals, Saturday.
Darkhorse: Crown Point.
Athletes to watch: Chesterton -- Blake Pieroni, Sr., distance; Jack Wallar, Sr., breast; Aaron Whitaker, Sr., fly, sprints; Ethan Whitaker, Sr., distance; Patrick Curley, Sr., breast, distance; Antonio Kincaid, Sr., IM, fly; Jack Kurfman, Sr., distance; Andy Hurst, Sr., distance, back; Wesley Slaughter, Fr., distance; Gary Kostbade, Fr., fly. Crown Point -- Joey Kardzewski, So., distance; Andrew Kvachkoff, Sr., breast, IM, sprints. Lake Central -- Drake Hunt, diving. LaPorte -- Sage Chiaro, diving. Michigan City -- Tim Schoof, So., fly. Portage -- John Fannin, Sr., diving. Valparaiso -- Andrew Antonetti, Sr., distance.
Fast fact: The Trojans have won a DAC-record 17 consecutive meet crowns.
Northwest Crossroads Conference
When: 10 a.m. diving, 1 p.m. finals, Saturday.
Athletes to watch: Highland -- Jeff Schroeder, Sr., free; Chris Dabrowksi, Jr., distance; Matt Harnisch, Sr., sprints; Matt Byquist, Jr., sprints, distance. Hobart -- Braden O'Kelley, Sr.; Justin Olstead, Sr. Kankakee Valley -- Kristian Cullings, Sr., sprints, relays; Joe Dinga, Sr., 50 free, fly; Brandon Martin, Jr., back, IM. Lowell -- Nolan Cook, Sr., distance; Nickolas Cooper-Garcia, Sr., breast. Munster -- Logan Armagast, So., back, free; Wilson Beckman, Jr., back, free, fly; Jacob Comanse, Jr., diving; Joey Gardner, Jr., IM, back; Nick Lundin, So., sprints; Chris Rhodes, Sr.; fly, free, back; Matt Specht, Sr., breast, free; Collin Sroge, So., distance; Seth Weston, Jr., 200 IM, fly.
Fast fact: Munster has never lost an NCC meet.
(Previous ranking in parentheses)
1. Chesterton (1)
2. Munster (2)
3. Crown Point (4)
4. Lake Central (3)
5. Valparaiso (6)
6. Portage (5)
7. Highland (7)
8. Rensselaer (8)
9. Michigan City (9)
10. Morton (10)
On the bubble: Bishop Noll, Kankakee Valley.
ST. JOHN | Taking a final dip into Lake Central's soon-to-be drained and demolished swimming pool brought back some fond holiday memories for Mike Carlson.
"Yeah, I just loved the three-a-days (coach Jim Tonkovich) used to hold during Christmas break," Carlson said. "They were fun, him throwing a bunch of kickboards at us in the water and telling us to get moving.
They must have been for Carlson, because when he found out about the "retirement pool party" for the 37-year-old watering hole that would feature a semi-competitive alumni meet, he made some drastic lifestyle changes to get ready.
"Eight weeks ago, I quit smoking," said Carlson, a 1987 Lake Central graduate. "I joined a senior swim program (at Munster), and I managed to lose 30 pounds.
"After I left high school, I joined the Navy. When I came home, I got married and raised a family. Naturally, I got away from (swimming). Now, I feel like getting back into it."
He's not the only one.
"That's the feeling of some people here ... me included," said Adam Peters, who — with fellow 1993 graduate Cindy Turnquist — organized the retirement pool party/meet held Dec. 28. "I, like most of the people here, haven't swam competitively for many years. But I can't say I didn't miss it and the camaraderie that went with it."
The event attracted 75 swimmers and nearly twice as many spectators.
"We didn't expect this type of response," said Turnquist, who also swam in the meet. "We just thought this would be an appropriate way to say goodbye to something that affected so many of our lives."
Aside from the pool hosting its final event, history was made that day.
"I finally was able to whip his (butt)," said Mike Blaze, captain of L.C.'s 1987 state championship team, in reference to beating 1986 high school All-American Jeff Kilinski in the 50 freestyle.
"I let him win," said Kilinski, who is the head coach of the Lake Central Barracudas Swim Club and Lake Central's boys varsity team.
"We just moved into the new pool," Kilinski said of school's Olympic-size 10-laner. "It's similar to some of the new pools around here, but better."
Kilinski's son, Ryan, and Blaze's son, Colin, are both freshman on Lake Central's boys team.
"I grew up in this pool; my children grew up in this pool ... there are a lot of great memories here," Kilinski said. "But moving to (the other side of the school where the new pool is located) can only help our program."
"It's definitely going to add to the quality of student life here at the school," said Lake Central principal Robin Tobias, who was a star swimmer for the Indians before graduating in 1994. "I'm happy that the school referendum passed allowing us to go forward with the construction.
"It's important to have a good up-to-date swim program. Not only is it a great sport, learning it can save your life."
Though giving the old pool a farewell toast was the primary reason for the gathering, many of the former swimmers were happy to reconnect with their old coach -- Indiana Swimming and Diving Hall of Famer Tonkovich.
"(The old pool) was sinking every year and the bottom was cracking," said Tonkovich, who coached Lake Central to its state championship as well as two state runner-up finishes. He also coached four high school All-Americans, including Lake Central girls varsity coach Todd Smolinski, who was an NCAA All-American and Big Ten Swimmer of the Year for the University of Minnesota.
Tonkovich retired from coaching 10 years ago, though still teaches at the school.
"It was time for me to move on," said Tonkovich, who managed to stay dry throughout the day despite the threat of being thrown in the pool with his clothes on for an in-water alumni group photo.
"You can't hold on to things forever."
Kankakee Valley’s Madison Babicka couldn't be kept away from the pool for very long.
The senior is determined to qualify for the state meet in the 50-yard freestyle at the Crown Point Sectional next month.
“I have the state cut in my head. I’m always seeing it -- 24.30,” said Babicka, who’s swam varsity all four years for K.V.
Not even a heart ailment last year has deterred Babicka from having a standout senior season in her quest to make it to Indianapolis.
“Out of the four years she’s never missed a practice, always wanting more,” K.V. coach Kevin Stephens said. “She’s one of those girls who just wants to better herself every day.”
This past March, Babicka was diagnosed with SVT (supraventricular tachycardia). It’s a condition where the heart’s electrical system doesn’t work right, causing the heart to beat too fast, according to WebMd.
Babicka underwent a catheter ablation to correct the heart’s rhythm. The procedure entailed taking the catheter through her thigh and up to the heart to destroy, or ablate, the tiny tissues that were causing the problem.
“I had to stay in the hospital overnight and couldn’t swim for a couple weeks,” Babicka said. “It wasn’t anything too invasive, but about a week and a half to two weeks recovery, so that was rough for me to be out of the pool.”
With a clean bill of health, Babicka also played tennis for the Kougars in the spring, taking a short break from swimming.
She then dove back into her swim workouts in the summer, often making a 45-minute drive to the YMCA in Valparaiso, training on her own.
“I also did some cross training,” Babicka said. “I’ve been doing all that I can, working hard in practice, outside practice (and) getting exercise.”
She also worked as a lifeguard at the Spencer Park Pool in DeMotte, where she was also able to do lap swims to save a few trips to Valpo.
Now, Babicka remains focused on 24.30. She just missed the cut last year in the sectional, finishing sixth in 24.97.
“She hasn’t quite had her PR yet this year in the 50 free, so she’s kind of getting anxious a little bit,” Stephens said. “I’m feeling like the stage will be set for the sectionals, and I think she’ll shine there.”
At last Saturday’s Northwest Crossroads Conference meet, Babicka finished second to Munster’s Mary Beth Blocher in the 50 free with a time of 25.09. Her personal best this season is 24.8 after turning in a 24.75 last year.
“I’ve been working real hard, keeping that time in my head,” said Babicka, readying for the sectional. “That’s when I’ve got to do it.”
Babicka is also happy to able to swim with her best friends Abbey Sittema, Jordan Rhoades and Audrey Lewis.
“All my teammates, they motivate me, too,” she said. “They really want to see me go. I’m happy that we’re in it together. We’re like a family. We’re really close.”
Great Lakes Athletic Conference
When: 8 a.m. Saturday.
Where: Morton High School Natatorium.
Schools participating: Clark, Gavit, Hammond, Morton.
Swimmers to watch -- Hammond: Mike Kaminski, Sr., sprints, relays. Morton: Connor Davidson, Sr., sprints; Ben Daniels, Sr., distance; Mike Beatty, Sr., IM, breast.
Fast fact: Davidson and Daniels are two of the top sprinters in Northwest Indiana.
Great Lakes Athletic Conference
When: 8 a.m. Saturday.
Where: Morton High School Natatorium.
Defending champion: Morton.
Individuals to watch: Clark -- Sara Kruzinsky, Sr., sprints; Abby Salazar, Sr., sprints; Haidy Perez, diving. Gavit -- Amber Earl, Jr., sprints, fly. Hammond -- Taz Dixon, Sr., sprints; Alicia Gonzalez, Sr., distances. Morton -- Lillian Mendoza, Sr., distances; Courtney Keilman, Sr., IM, fly; Alyssa Garvey, Sr., breast, 500 free.
Fast fact: Clark seeks its first title in two years.
Wheeler sophomore Rachel Metzger enjoys being a three-sport athlete, because she doesn't have to worry about staying fit.
"The way my sports line up (girls soccer, swimming and track), I've got one every season," she said. "I'm not missing a day, and it keeps me in shape."
This fall, Metzger wanted to devote a little more time to the water. She spent two mornings a week in the pool, then spent her afternoons on the soccer pitch.
"My soccer coach (Bryan Murray) didn't have an issue as long as it didn't affect my play," Metzger said. "I definitely made a commitment to (the soccer team), and I didn't want to let them down.
"It taught me how to manage my time."
Now she's shedding time in the pool. Metzger said she averaged 1:07 in the 100-yard fly last season, and now she's consistently around 1:02.
She broke her own record in the 100-yard fly (1:02.54) at Saturday's Greater South Shore Conference meet. She's posted as low as 1:01.33 this season, which is already 0.55 hundredths faster than last year's sectional time.
She's also less than three seconds from the school record in the 100 fly and 200 free. She won the 200 title at the GSSC in a personal-best 2:03.14.
"She swam in age group (in the offseason), and she wanted to keep what she had gained over the summer," Wheeler coach Adam Klimczak said of Metzger's decision to train in the fall. "She's been in age group (since age 10), and she knows a lot about setting her priorities."
"Drops like this are very exciting in a swimming career."
Metzger, who now trains five mornings a week, believes in being a team player, but that concept has been altered this winter. The Bearcats only have seven members, so team wins are almost impossible due to a lack of depth.
The sophomore sees past the concept of team victories and figures she's gaining wins in other ways.
"It's made the team so much closer," Metzger said. "I'm also able now to focus more on my times and try to get those (school records).
"It's kind of fun in practice with lower numbers, because we can race each other in practice and push ourselves even harder.
"I've learned about being a good teammate. It's not just about being there and showing up to practice. You have to invest time with the other girls, building them up, asking questions and learning how to be there for them."
The postseason is a few weeks away. Metzger was fourth in the 200 IM last year and seventh in the 100 fly. Her career best in the 200 free would have have qualified her for last year's finals. While zeroing in on the school records, she hopes that dropped time could lead to a better postseason finish.
"I'm kind of where I want to be at this point," Metzger said. "I still have to keep pushing, but I'm right on track."
(previous rankings in parentheses; NR = not rated)
1. Crown Point (1)
2. Chesterton (3)
3. Munster (2)
4. Lake Central (4)
5. Valparaiso (5)
6. Highland (6)
7. LaPorte (10)
8. Michigan City (7)
9. Portage (8)
10. Kankakee Valley (9)
On the bubble: Bishop Noll, Hobart, Lowell.
UNION TWP. | If swim meets were scored only on first-place finishes, things would have turned out far differently for the Bishop Noll boys and girls swimming teams at Saturday’s Greater South Shore Conference meet.
Between the two teams, the Warriors won only three of the 23 events, but Bishop Noll placed two or more swimmers in the top-six in almost every event, and that depth helped the Warriors win both GSSC titles.
“We had to make everyone versatile,” Bishop Noll coach Pam Armagast said. “We had to be more well-rounded in order to win things. You have to have depth. You need to fill the lanes.”
The boys won their fifth-straight GSSC meet, while it was the first win for the girls.
Bishop Noll’s girls totaled 339 points to get the win. North Newton finished second, and Wheeler took third.
In the boys’ meet, the Warriors finished with 371 points. North Newton was second, and Wheeler finished third.
After the final results were announced, both winning teams, including Armagast, took a celebratory jump into the pool.
The Warriors finished the meet in style, with each side winning the final event, the 400-yard freestyle relay.
“Winning both the 400 relays was just a nice ending to the day,” Armagast said.
Kaelyn Czuback anchored the winning girls 400 freestyle relay team and also took first in the 100-yard backstroke.
Wheeler’s Rachel Metzger, Gabi Gilliana, Jack Fekete, Brandon Bolde and Nathan Graf were each double-winners individually.
“I was pleased,” Wheeler’s boys coach Rob Gass said. “We swam really well. We had best times all over the place. That’s what matters most.”
Metzger set a new meet record in the 100-yard butterfly (1:02.54), while Gilliana did the same in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:11.48). Graf posted a new meet record in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:06.89).
Cameron Klimczak and Kane Klimczak were each double-winners for South Central. In the girls’ meet, Cameron won the 50-yard freestyle and the 500-yard freestyle, while Kane won the 100-yard butterfly and the 100-yard backstroke in the boys’ meet.
“I was happy to get first,” Cameron said. “They weren’t my best times of the year, but I was happy with winning.”
LAPORTE | Chesterton sophomore Vanessa Krause took this week's history lesson to heart before entering the water for Saturday's Duneland Athletic Conference meet.
"The coaches gave us a lecture and talked about the legacy (of winning 14 straight meet crowns)," she said. "We wanted to give it our all for all of the other teams (in the past).
"We were able to get everyone together."
Krause broke two meet records for the team's lone event wins, and the Trojans also needed every bit of their depth to overcome Times No. 1 Crown Point.
The Bulldogs won nine events, breaking seven meet records in the process, but No. 3 Chesterton still found a way to edge C.P. 499-496 for a 15th straight title.
Chesterton placed three in the top five of six events to overcome the Bulldogs' hardware haul, giving veteran Chesterton coach Kevin Kinel one of his most satisfying wins in the streak.
"Everyone kind of counted us out all year," Kinel said. "We just kept chugging away at it. I cannot say enough about this team."
Krause sparkled in her two individual events. She set personal bests in both the 50-yard free (23.17) and 100 fly (53.88). The 100 fly mark is just 0.47 hundreths off the state record.
"I was definitely surprised; I'm not tapered or shaved," Krause said. "To do it in not one of the fastest pools in the state gives me a lot of confidence."
She also kept her composure as the Bulldogs continued to win races -- and break records.
"I just don't let that stuff get to me," she said. "I just focus on what I have to do."
The Bulldogs made frequent trips to the top of the awards podium.
Junior Aly Tetzloff, who was named the DAC MVP, broke her own record in the 100 back (54.92) and eclipsed the 200 individual medley mark by almost six seconds (2:00.8). She also help the Bulldogs break records in the 200 medley relay (1:45.75) and 200 free relay (1:35.7).
Freshman Hannah Kukurugya had an impressive initial league meet, breaking the DAC mark in the 200 free (1:51.13) and shattering the 500 record by close to eight seconds (4:58.12). She was also part of the record wins in the 200 medley and 400 free relay (3:30.68).
"Our girls didn't lose (Saturday); they got beat," Crown Point Bryon Angerman said. "Coming into this pool and breaking (seven) records says a lot about our swimmers."
Angerman also doesn't feel this decision will sting in the minds of his athletes.
"Sectional and state are the main goal," said Angerman, whose Bulldogs are ranked second in the latest state poll. "The only thing people will remember is how you do at your last meet, and we hope to do well at state."
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