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After winning the school’s third consecutive and state-leading 34th overall sectional title, Columbus North girls swim coach Jim Sheridan couldn’t help but look ahead to next year.
It’s not that Sheridan was discounting this season by any means. His Bull Frogs racked up 501 points to 413 for runner-up Bloomington South in Saturday’s North Sectional and qualified swimmers to state by winning 10 events.
“The neatest thing with this is every one of these girls will be back next year,” Sheridan said. “We are so heavily talented with freshmen, sophomores and juniors, to get 10 out of (11) races to this (state) meet shows them that hard work works, and the kids that worked hard got through and will get to swim next weekend.”
North’s lone senior to compete in the sectional, Tierney McAlister, qualified to Tuesday’s Bloomington North Diving Regional with a fourth-place finish. Swimmers go straight from sectional to state.
The Bull Frogs set two sectional records. The first came in the opening event, when freshman Grace Haskett and juniors Marah Bieger, Maddie Wyke and Karen Wildemann won the 200-yard medley relay in 1 minute, 47.20 seconds.
Haskett swam a sectional-record 56.20 in the 100 backstroke. Earlier in the day, she won the 50 freestyle in 24.13.
“This team has been pushing me,” Haskett said. “Everyone swam an amazing race today, and to be part of that is awesome.”
Bieger and Wyke also won two individual events. Bieger took the 200 individual medley (2:08.71) and 100 breaststroke (1:08.99), and Wyke captured the 200 freestyle (1:55.99) and 100 butterfly (56.72).
“I’m a little disappointed, but I’m looking forward to state next weekend and improving on my times,” Bieger said. “I have certain goals in mind for state, and to get there, I had certain times in mind for today, and I wasn’t where I wanted to be.”
“It’s a fun meet, and it’s fun to watch everybody go fast, including myself, and it feels good to see all of our hard work pay off,” Wyke said.
The surprise of the day may have been junior Kelcie Davie’s breakthrough in the 500 freestyle. Davie took seven seconds off her previous personal best and 15 seconds off her time from Thursday’s preliminaries to win in 5:18.07.
“I didn’t have a strategy,” Davie said. “I kept descending each of my 50s to go faster so I wouldn’t completely die. I knew it was going to be a close race. I wasn’t going to be overconfident about myself going into it. I just wanted to go out and have fun and do my best.”
“It was not a surprise in terms of how she races,” Sheridan said. “She likes to get after it. She likes to put a big grin on her face. The toughest part for me was to go, ‘Congratulations, you have another race in about 30 minutes. Go get ready.’”
Bieger, Haskett, Wildemann and Wyke won the 200 freestyle relay in 1:39.17. Wildemann, sophomore Cori Taylor, freshman Darby Coles and sophomore Mackenzie Fry took the 400 freestyle relay in 3:39.90.
North didn’t have any non-winners achieve state-cut times but did have a couple of swimmers position themselves for possible call-backs. If not enough non-winners from around the state swim state cuts, the best non-winning times are added until the field reaches 32 in each event.
Fry finished second in the 200 freestyle (1:57.36) and 100 butterfly (59.40), while Coles took second in the 100 freestyle (54.37) and freshman Alexandra Nusawhardana was second in the 100 backstroke (1:01.06). Finishing third for the Bull Frogs were Coles in the 200 freestyle (2:00.35), Taylor in the 200 IM (2:18.68) and freshman Jennifer Gutman in the 500 freestyle (5:22.05).
Meanwhile, Columbus East made a huge improvement, jumping from a ninth-place team finish last season to take fourth with 187 points. Bloomington North took third with 322, and Greensburg was fifth with 158.
“We’re very excited,” East coach Jill Arnholt said. “The kids did great. We had a lot more girls in the finals swimming. They swam well on Thursday, dropping time that got them into position where they could score points for us today.”
Freshman Cortney VanLiew led the Olympians with third-place finishes in the 50 freestyle (25.15) and 100 butterfly (1:01.36). Juniors Maggie Frazier, Raegan Bradley and Abby Frazier, along with VanLiew, took third in the 400 freestyle relay in 4:00.82.
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