INDIANAPOLIS | Every time a Chesterton swimmer touched the wall of the pool at the IUPUI Natatorium to signify the finishing of a race, a large cluster of maroon and gold-clad Trojans fans roared loudly in approval.
Seven students even painted "TROJANS" across their bare chests.
In an environment like this, there was simply no way the Trojans were going to disappoint anyone.
In fact, the Trojans swam better than expected in a few events, and the end result was racking up 238.5 points to hold off second-place North Central (203.5) and claim their third state championship in school history and the first since 2009.
Defending champion Carmel finished third (173), breaking a three-year state championship streak.
“It was a great feeling for people from our team to come down and cheer us on,” Chesterton's Aaron Whitaker said. “It's nice to be around family, friends and teammates that took their time to come down.”
Whitaker set a state record in the 100-yard butterfly (47.33) just a day after breaking brother Kyle's record by swimming a 47.84 at the preliminaries, one-hundredth of a second faster than the old record.
He repeated that performance with a 47.29 in the 100 back, beating his prelim record of 47.37.
The records were nice, but tasting a team state championship was sweeter for Whitaker.
“After watching Kyle and his team get their state titles, it made me want to work hard for it,” he said. “The whole year, this is what I wanted.”
Teammate Blake Pieroni also had a stellar meet, setting a record in the 100 free (44.28), besting the old state record of 44.36, set in 2001.
Pieroni also won the 200 I.M. (1:48.86), and along with Whitaker, helped the 200 medley relay win in 1:32.45 and the 400 free relay win in 3:04.77.
“It's beyond words,” Pieroni said. “Every reporter keeps trying to tell me to put it into words, and it's tough. All the hard work has paid off, and this is where we are.
“These are all my friends, and we've all worked towards this goal, and we deserve it.”
Ethan Whitaker placed second in the 200 free (1:39.58) and third in the 500 free (4:30.09).
“We had such a great prelim night which set us in position,” Chesterton coach Kevin Kinel said. “The kids just didn't back down today and kept at it. We had tough swims up and down the line.”
LaPorte brought just one competitor to state in Josh Arndt, but the senior went off on a high note, winning his second consecutive diving title with 484 points despite a weak final dive.
“This one is sweeter, because they made me work for it today,” Arndt said. “It's the greatest feeling ever.”