North in position to challenge for sectional title

The Columbus North boys swimmers know they still have a lot of work ahead of them if they’re going to defend their sectional title.

But the Bull Frogs put themselves in position to challenge Bloomington South for the North Sectional title Saturday with their efforts in Thursday’s preliminaries. The Bull Frogs qualified 21 of a possible 27 swims to the finals with top-eight qualifying times.

“Saturday is going to be a fun meet,” North coach Jim Sheridan said. “We’re going to have to move up in spots where we’re capable of moving up. Bloomington South will be tough, but I think it’s a pretty close meet all the way down the line.”

Freshman Michael Brinegar will take the fastest qualifying times into the finals of both the 200-yard freestyle (1 minute, 44.87 seconds) and 500 freestyle (4:36.18). Matt Freudenthaler has the second-best time in the 100 butterfly (53.88), and Chase McQueen has the second-best time in the 100 freestyle (48.42).

The Bull Frogs also qualified first in the 200 medley relay, using only one of their expected swimmers for Saturday in that event. Matt Vorndran, Ben Thompson, Arturo Contreras and Freudenthaler swam 1:33.7.

With only one of its expected swimmers for Saturday in the 200 medley relay, North qualified third at 1:44.56. The Bull Frogs did not use any of their expected Saturday swimmers in the 400 freestyle relay and qualified fourth in 3:26.62.

McQueen and Freudenthaler will be on all three relays, and Brinegar will swim the 200 freestyle relay and 400 freestyle relay Saturday.

“There will be great races,” Sheridan said. “All the teams come to race. If we get some of our youngsters through to state and the three relays, that will be amazing for this group of young men from where we started at the beginning of the year.”

North beat Bloomington South to win the Conference Indiana title three weeks ago. But Sheridan sacrificed some individual points in the sectional to try to get all three relay teams to the state meet.

“You want to win all the meets, but you want to win conference because it brings the All-Sports Trophy home,” Sheridan said. “If you don’t win sectional, and then we go to the state championships and outscore these guys, that’s the fun part about it because the state is where we want to get our kids.”

Columbus East, meanwhile, qualified one individual and all three relay teams to the finals. Jake Smith qualified sixth in the 100 freestyle in 49.80.

The Olympians qualified fifth in both the 200 freestyle (1:34.72) and 400 freestyle (3:32.41) relays and sixth in the 200 medley relay (1:54.57).

“The guys knew they were going to get through to Saturday, so they held back and absolutely made sure there were no false starts,” East coach Dave Fribley said.

Fribley also praised Austin Smith and James Taylor, who were among a handful of Olympians to qualify for the consolation races Saturday. The top eight in each event made the finals, while the next eight made the consolation heats.

“(Smith) had a fantastic night tonight,” Fribley said. “(Taylor) just came out for swimming this year, and every day, he gives 110 percent. He gets on the internet and studies breaststroke film and how to do it and tries to work on it.

“We didn’t have 100 percent PRs, which you would like at this point in time, but when you look at this sectional and how tough it is, and you consider these kids are swimming three to four months only, I thought they did a great job,” he said.

Diving begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, followed by the swimming finals and consolations at 1 p.m.

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