CHESTERTON – Four sectional records. Two pool records. Four podiums swept. Three relays qualified for state. Eight individuals qualified for state. Fourteen state cuts. A 21st consecutive sectional championship.
Just another day in the pool for Chesterton boys swimming.
“We had some real unbelievable swims up and down the line,” Trojan head coach Kevin Kinel said shortly before his usual celebratory jump off the diving board and into the pool. He’s gotten plenty of practice over the years.
Chesterton won the sectional in its own pool with 530 points. Valparaiso (375.5), Michigan City (282.5), Portage (173.5) and Hobart (166) rounded out the top-five.
Senior Ethan Wing won both the 50- and 100-yard freestyle, setting a pool record in the latter, to stand out among Trojan standouts. Junior Andrew Alders (200 free, 100 fly), sophomore Lucas Piunti (200 IM, 100 free) and senior Declan Tharp (200 individual medley, 100 free) also qualified for state in two events.
Senior Danny Schmiegel, junior Jordan Killosky, sophomore Connor Casbon and freshman Alejandro Kincaid all earned spots in state in one individual event each.
All three Trojan relays are state bound.
“Honestly, this team feels a lot stronger than the good teams we’ve had even in the recent past,” Alders said. “Even Kinel has started to compare us to some of the greats, which is a result of just how hard everyone here is working.”
Valpo’s Schwartz leads divers out to regionals
Valparaiso junior diver Jack Schwartz needed to step away from competitive diving earlier this season due to mental jitters bogging him down when he got on the board.
After Saturday, he can call himself a back-to-back sectional champion.
“This was the best meet that I’ve had by far,” Schwartz said.
Schwartz dominated the diving portion of the event with 475.8 points to LaPorte junior Toy Hayes’s 368.1. Third-place finishing junior Peter Dondeck and fourth-place finishing sophomore Josiah Miller, both of Michigan City, will join Schwartz and Hayes at the diving regionals Tuesday at Penn High School.
Schwartz finished 13th at state and fourth in regionals as a sophomore but started to struggle with the mental aspect of diving randomly earlier this season. He returned from a brief leave of absence to win the Highland Invitational, Duneland Athletic Conference and now sectional meets.
“I’m not going to change anything and feel as good now as ever,” Schwartz said. “I’m really excited to keep things going and feel really good now with where I’m at.”
Smith wins two individuals, helps MC relay to state
Purdue-bound Michigan City senior Jack Smith put in arguably the most impressive individual performance with a sectional record-breaking win in the 100 backstroke and another win in the 100 butterfly.
In the final race of the day, he helped the Wolves’ 400 freestyle relay team to a third-place finish that stayed under the state cut line.
“Seeing the payout for the work that I put in makes it all worth it,’ Smith said. “Just to be here right now and having won two events, it’s really fun because I had not won a sectional event before.”
Viking relays overcome disqualification
A mistake that led to disqualification cost Valparaiso’s 200 medley relay team a spot in the state finals.
But it didn’t wreck the Vikings’ day.
Valparaiso won the 200 freestyle relay and made the state cut in the 400 freestyle relay after judges disqualified its 200 medley relay team in the first race of the day. While it appeared the Vikings’ 200 medley team clocked in with a time of 1:35.83, it was ruled one swimmer took off too early.
Valparaiso head coach Adam Nellessen said he “couldn’t be prouder” of the way his swimmers responded to what could have been disaster.
“We talked about swimming with heart today,” Nellessen said. “That medley, making the state cut and doing exactly what we wanted to do, could have deflated us. It could have ruined our sectional meet. But they decided it was not going to define us and did not let it define us. I couldn’t be happier.”
Trio of others qualify for state
While some swimmers may be added later depending on results statewide, three other competitors finished under the state cut line and will be in Indianapolis next week for the finals.
Valparaiso senior Samuel Behrend and freshman Christopher Holmes finished third and fifth, respectively, under the cut line in the 100 fly.
LaPorte junior Graham Siefker finished third and bested the state cut line in the 100 backstroke.