Bull Frogs smash records on way to sectional win

Jim Sheridan was running out of fingers trying to count the number of records his Columbus North swimmers set Saturday afternoon.

The final tally resulted in six school records and five sectional records for the Bull Frogs. It all added up to a convincing victory in the North Sectional.

“Today was an amazing day, not just personally, but for the team overall,” said sophomore Grace Haskett, who was a part of five school and four sectional records. “We broke a lot of records today. We were focused on being a team and encouraging everyone, and when we came out here, we wanted to pump each other up.”

The 15th-ranked Bull Frogs led by only one point after the diving competition, but finished with a flurry to outscore runner-up Bloomington South 491-386. Columbus East, which landed its first state qualifier in 20 years, finished fifth with 195 points.

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North set the tone for the meet in the opening 200-yard medley relay when Haskett, Marah Bieger, Maddie Wyke and Karen Wildemann swam a school- and sectional-record 1 minute, 43.15 seconds.

Haskett also set school and sectional records in winning the 50 freestyle (23.07) and 100 backstroke (54.20). Bieger won the 200 individual medley (2:03.44) and set school and sectional records in the 100 breaststroke (1:03.61).

“I was happy with my times,” Bieger said. “My breaststroke, I had talked to (coach Jim Sheridan) about breaking the record this weekend, and then going past it next weekend (at state).

“My IM, I was actually very surprised,” she said. “I wanted to be at 2:06 this weekend, so I could be down to 2:04 next weekend, and I went way past that.”

The Bull Frogs finished off the meet with Haskett, Mackenzie Fry, Darby Coles and Bieger swimming a school and sectional record 3:29.54 in the 400 freestyle relay. Haskett’s opening leg of 51.55 is a school record for the 100 freestyle.

North also had wins from Fry in the 200 freestyle (1:55.18) and Wyke in the 100 butterfly (56.01). Wyke, Fry, Coles and Wildemann made the state cut, finishing second in 200 freestyle relay (1:37.64); and Alex Nusawardhana made the state cut with a second-place finish in the 100 backstroke (58.00).

“I think all of our relays did awesome,” Bieger said. “I think we have set up ourselves for very good position at state. Grace talked about top four (as a team), and that’s a definite goal for us.”

The state swimming preliminaries are Friday, and the finals and consolation heats are Saturday at IUPUI’s Indiana University Natatorium.

“These girls have put in the time all year long with the goal of going to the state championships,” Sheridan said. “This season is not over yet. They needed to learn for themselves how fast they could be to set up some great seeds for next week.

“That’s the kind of work and mentality they put into this,” he said. “I asked them to look inside their own faith as an athlete today, and they did that and came away huge. These young women are throwing the gauntlet down for next weekend.”

Meanwhile, sophomore Cortney VanLiew became the first East girl to qualify for state since 1995 when she made the state cut in the 50 freestyle. VanLiew finished third in a school-record 23.78.

“I still can’t believe it,” VanLiew said. “I probably won’t believe it until practice on Monday when I have to come in and swim some more. I’m very excited and very blessed to be able to go.”

East senior Emily Clancy, a first-year diver, qualified for Tuesday’s Bloomington North Diving Regional with a fourth-place finish with a school-record 346.85 points.

“Just practicing really helped me hit all my dives and be able to hit in the competition,” Clancy said. “It’s exciting.”

VanLiew also finished third in the 100 butterfly (58.58), and Maggie Frazier, Abby Frazier, Brooke Statler and VanLiew took third in the 200 freestyle relay (1:37.64).

“We had a lot of great swims, a lot of personal bests,” East coach Jill Arnholt said. “The divers did great. The girls came together. They’re so tight, and they support each other so well, I’m really proud of them.”