DRIVEN

Grace Haskett has a drive to be great in more ways than one.

First of all, the Columbus North sophomore makes the 59-mile trek from Bedford every day with her father Bryce, who works at Cummins, and her sister Olivia, who is a junior. They get up at 3:30 a.m. so they can make it to North for 5 a.m. swimming practices four days a week.

That drive is paying off for Grace Haskett and her teammates. In Saturday’s North Sectional, she was a part of five school records and four sectional records, and she’s in position to make a run at top-five finishes in all four of her events in this weekend’s state finals.

Haskett is seeded second in the 100-yard backstroke and third in the 50 freestyle and swims on the No. 1-seeded 200 medley relay team and sixth-seeded 400 freestyle relay team going into Friday’s state preliminaries at IUPUI’s Indiana University Natatorium. The top eight from the prelims make Saturday’s championship finals, while the next eight make the consolation finals.

“I think she’ll be right there,” North coach Jim Sheridan said. “I think she can go faster and keep that momentum going in her head that now, she’s broken through.

“Getting out there and competing against the best is what she wants to do now, and she’s learning that she can,” he said. “She wants to be one of the best, and that’s the difference.”

Last year, Haskett finished sixth at state in the 100 backstroke and 16th in the 50 freestyle and swam on the seventh-place 200 medley and 14th-place 200 freestyle relay teams in earning The Republic Athlete of the Year for Girls Swimming honors.

“I think our team can go top-four (overall),” Haskett said. “Individually, I want to drop my time and place, and I think all our girls can place and our relays will place high.”

In Saturday’s sectional, Haskett set school and sectional records in both of her individual events, and the Bull Frogs set school and sectional records in the two relays in which she was involved. Haskett’s time leading off the 400 freestyle relay was also a school record for the 100 freestyle.

Haskett became the first North swimmer to break five school records in a meet since 2003 graduate Leah Retrum did it in the state finals.

“(Retrum) was one of the best swimmers to come out of Indiana, so (Haskett) ranks as one of the best swimmers in the state, and she’s only a sophomore.”

Sheridan sees major improvement in Haskett since last season.

“She totally took her game to another level,” Sheridan said. “She was used to the training. Last year, she re-taught herself how to train, and she found out she can rank with the best in the state.

“She doesn’t just want to rank with them, she wants to run with them, and that’s the big difference this year,” he said. “She knows she can run with them and go.”

Even if that means getting home from after-school practice at close to 8 p.m., eating dinner, finishing homework and getting six to seven hours of sleep.

Bryce Haskett planned to move the family to Columbus last year, but projects keep creeping up at their Bedford home that have kept them from selling the place. They hope that changes before the start of next school year.

“I’m pretty used to it, so it’s not really a big deal anymore,” Grace Haskett said. “But everyone’s been supportive, and just being there for me whenever I need a place to crash. I’m dedicated enough that it keeps me focused.”

If you go

What: Girls Swimming and Diving State Finals

When: 6 p.m. Friday (swimming preliminaries); 9 a.m. Saturday (diving preliminaries and semifinals); 1 p.m. Saturday (swimming and diving finals

Where: Indiana University Natatorium at IUPUI

Admission: $8 per session or $12 for both days

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