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.”