BEDFORD — Jennings County hovered around the middle of the pack throughout Saturday’s Hoosier Hills Conference boys swimming and diving meet at Bedford North Lawrence.
But going into the final event — the 400-yard freestyle relay — only three points separated Jennings County in fifth place and Seymour in third place. Panthers coach Bill Dillon was excited to see Trever Wilson, Devin Vanosdol, Taylor Eder and Skyler Moore pull together and place third in the relay, boosting them to 163 points and third place out of eight teams.
“I told the boys, I said, if we get third in this relay, I felt like that would get us third for the meet,” Dillon said. “Those guys are the same group that I had in that relay last year, and they are a veteran group, and they knew exactly what they had to do, and they got it done.”
Jeffersonville cruised to its fourth-straight title with 361 points, while Floyd Central was second with 243. Jennings’ finish in the last relay sent them ahead of Seymour and host BNL, which tied for fourth with 160 points. Columbus East was sixth with 118.
The Panthers’ sole winner was Wilson, a sophomore, in the 100 breaststroke, which he swam right before the 400 freestyle relay. He won in 1:03.63.
“I got really tired, but I just kept trying to go because I wanted to win,” Wilson said.
“We knew it would be a dogfight, but it was good to get him a win,” Dillon said of Wilson. “I felt like he did a very good job on that last 25 closing the race. I thought the first 50 were not as sharp as he’s been in a couple other races this year, but the last 25, he really brought it home.”
To open the meet, Wilson was on the 200 medley relay team that placed second. He was the anchor of the 400 freestyle relay.
“I tried to come in the best place as possible so we could come out with third place (as a team), which would be the best we’ve finished in conference before,” Wilson said of the 400 freestyle relay. “We just wanted to win really bad.”
East also had one winner — junior Isaac Walling in the 100 butterfly. He won in 54.33, and the next three swimmers were between 54.59 and 54.89.
“No, I didn’t think I would be first. Probably second because I knew I had to drop a couple seconds to get first,” Walling said. “I saw the kids in the water, and I was like, ‘I need to work my turns.’ I really powered through those turns because I noticed when I started my second 50, I just took off on everybody.”
It was Walling’s first HHC title.
“My brother got one his senior year in the 100 breast, and I kind of wanted to outdo him, brotherly rivalry,” Walling said with a smile. “I got it a year before him, so it was kind of fun.”
Walling was seeded second in the butterfly and won, while he was seeded second in the 200 individual medley and placed third. He also helped the 200 freestyle relay team place fourth.
“He could have placed second in the 500 (freestyle), but we had to make a decision, and he’s got to be able to come back and go to those last two relays,” Olympians coach Dave Fribley said. “Third place in each of those, every 10th of a second made a difference. Therefore, swimming the 500, if that tired him that extra tenth of a second, then we could be in fourth or fifth. So that was the choice we had to go with, and that’s what we did.”
Fribley said he had several underclassmen with personal records.
“We had some really good swims,” he said. “In a meet like this, you just never know what to expect. I thought I had them ready. We had rested a little bit to try to get that extra edge in so they’d really go after it. You hope everybody is going to have these really good times, but it’s hard to judge sometimes how people are going to taper.”
Seymour’s top finishes were by Chris Robinson placing second in diving and third-place showings by Ethan Blacklidge in the 100 butterfly and Noah Bullard in the 100 breaststroke.
“We made some nice improvements today,” Owls coach Dave Boggs said. “I think we’re a little bit better big-meet-scoring team than dual-meet scoring, but the guys did well today, still being a little bit tired. We’re all just stepping up right now. We’re trying to get ready for the sectional. We look to this as our final rehearsal going into sectional in three weeks, and we need to make sure we’ve got everything going in the right direction, which I feel we are.”