Boys swimming | State preview

Chesterton senior class leaves its mark on boys swimming program

2014-02-26T17:30:00Z 2014-02-26T19:00:09Z Chesterton senior class leaves its mark on boys swimming programJim Hunsley jim.hunsley@nwi.com, (219) 548-4356 nwitimes.com
February 26, 2014 5:30 pm  • 

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."

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