Bull Frogs falter early, rebound to claim title

When Columbus North was disqualified in the opening 200-yard medley relay Saturday afternoon, the Bull Frogs’ chances of defending their Conference Indiana title took a major hit.

No. 28 North was already going to have a huge meet to have a chance to upset No. 16 Bloomington South, and now, the Bull Frogs were spotting the Panthers 40 points at the beginning.

But then North coach Jim Sheridan gave his team a history lesson. He told the Bull Frogs about his 1999 squad that won a state championship after losing its medley relay team in the sectional.

Just as it did 15 years ago, North regrouped Saturday. The Bull Frogs took the lead midway through the meet and went on to win convincingly with 441 points to Bloomington South’s 367.

“When we lost the medley relay, I went around and reminded the guys, back in ’99, we lost our medley relay at sectional and won state by over 40 points,” Sheridan said. “There was nobody in that group that was saying ‘Oh, we should have been good.’ I said ‘Don’t be griping. Let’s get ready for the next race and start bringing it back.’”

And that started with freshman Michael Brinegar, who swam a meet-record 1 minute, 42.23 seconds to win the 200 freestyle and send North on its way to the lead.

“At first, we were a little bit doubtful, but then we realized that we still had a chance, so we went for it,” Brinegar said.

Brinegar came back later and broke meet and school records with a 4:31.93 in the 500 freestyle, unofficially the fastest time in the state this season.

“I was hoping to break those records,” Brinegar said. “Everyone else did really well, so that helped us win.”

“He’s only going to continue to get better,” Sheridan said. “He has swimming passion. He can do the relays, and as a freshman, there’s some tough doubles out there, but he’s ready for it.”

The Bull Frogs’ also got a win and a school record from sophomore Kaemon Jiles in the diving competition. Jiles a 436.15, breaking the 22-year-old record of 433.85 by Ryan Brand.

“All these mental blocks feel cleared,” Jiles said. “I feel like I can perform a lot better at sectional going into it knowing that everything is kind of lifted off my shoulders. Now the only thing I have to worry about is making it past that sectional cut and making it to state.”

North’s Matt Freudenthaler, Chase McQueen, Kevin Zhang and Brinegar won the 200 freestyle relay in 1:28.66. Freudenthaler, McQueen, Jared Imlay and Brinegar also took the 400 freestyle relay in 3:15.58 after Bloomington South was disqualified in that event.

But by that time, the Bull Frogs already had wrapped up the title.

“They stood up and kept the trophy here at home,” Sheridan said. “They did the work.”

McQueen also finished second in both the 50 freestyle (22.11) and 100 freestyle (48.56). Freudenthaler took second in the 100 butterfly (52.59) and fourth in the 200 freestyle (1:47.82).

Angel Torres Martinez was third in the 200 individual medley (2:05.54), Kevin Zhang finished third in the 100 breaststroke (1:03.53) and Imlay (4:58.03) and Thomas Goble (5:04.34) took third and fourth in the 500 freestyle.

“These guys stood up and did some racing, and they know they have more in the tank,” Sheridan said. “I’m very proud of them for doing the racing and getting after it. The passion that was shown on the deck today was, if we continue to show, we can make some noise at the top level of the state championships.”

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Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.