For most of the season, the Columbus North girls swimmers were ranked with very few, if any, state meet points.
But Saturday afternoon at the Chick Newell Natatorium, the Bull Frogs put themselves in position to finish much higher than their final regular-season ranking of No. 38. They swam numerous season-best times in capturing their 29th sectional title in the past 30 years and their state-leading 33rd overall.
North won 10 of the 12 events in racking up 509½ points. Bloomington South finished second with 427½ and Bloomington North was third with 368.
“A lot of people thought this young group of kids wouldn’t withstand what some people call ‘pressure,’ what we here at Columbus North call ‘fun,’” North coach Jim Sheridan said. “Ten out of 12 events today; 1-2 in a couple races — are you kidding me? These young ladies have earned the right to be called champions here today.”
Winners in each event, plus any others meeting the state-cut times qualified for next weekend’s state finals at IUPUI. If those numbers don’t reach 32 in an event, swimmers with the next-best times from around the state are added to the field.
Sophomore Marah Bieger led the Bull Frogs with wins in the 200-yard individual medley in 2 minutes, 7.51 seconds and the 100 breaststroke in 1:07.01. Both are personal bests.
“I’m excited for next weekend because I’ll be fully tapered and shaved,” Bieger said. “I think we’re going to be able to go even faster next weekend.”
Freshman Mackenzie Fry outdueled sophomore Maddie Wyke 1:55.47-1:56.11 to win the 200 freestyle. Sophomore Karen Wildemann took the 50 freestyle in 25.10, Maddie Wyke captured the 100 butterfly in 56.64 and senior Rachael Sollman and Wildemann went 1-2 in the 50 freestyle in 53.57 and 55.02. Senior Emma Wyke, who finished fifth in the state as a sophomore but didn’t make it last year in the 100 backstroke, won that event in 58.16.
“We’re right on top of some pool records here with sophomores and freshmen winning events today for us,” Sheridan said. “They just stood up and took the philosophy of ‘This is our home. We’re going to get there. We’re going to go to the championships, and then we’ll let the rest of the state know we’re coming back.”
Emma Wyke, Bieger, Maddie Wyke and Sollman won the 200 medley relay (1:48.20). Fry, Wildemann, Maddie Wyke and Sollman took the 200 freestyle relay (1:39.54). Fry, Wildemann, Bieger and Sollman captured the 400 freestyle relay (3:36.18).
Emma Wyke also finished second in the 200 IM (2:12.53). Sophomore Kelcie Davie (5:25.24) and freshman Cori Taylor (5:31.48) took second and third in the 500 freestyle. Also finishing third were Fry in the 100 butterfly (59.38), senior Marie Wildemann in the 100 backstroke (1:03.25) and senior Mackenzie Coles in the 100 breaststroke (1:10.47).
Columbus East finished ninth with 109 points. The Olympians’ top finishes were a sixth place in diving from senior Lauren Brunn (207.00) and a sixth from freshman Gracie Webb, sophomores Abbie and Maggie Frazier and senior Lauren Wirth.
“A lot of our swimmers had personal bests on Thursday, so we set ourselves up for a really good meet today,” East coach Jill Arnholt said. “They did really, really well. They came back and pushed, and we’re really proud of them. The girls are excited for next year.”