By GREG KEIM email@example.com
---- — INDIANAPOLIS — If you would have told Northridge coach Joe Keller at the beginning of the season he had a Top Ten team in the state he might not have believed you.
The reality panned out Saturday as the Raiders totaled 107 points to finish in eighth place in the team standings at the 77th annual IHSAA boys state swimming and diving championships at the Indiana University Natatorium on the IUPUI campus in Indianapolis.
“We are definitely happy with a Top Ten finish,” Keller said. “We messed up in the 200 freestyle relay on Friday night. We didn’t get the job done and that cost us a Top Five placing.
“We brought a lot of youngsters down here and they gained some valuable experience. Our young guys handled this meet really well. This is not the easiest meet to compete in.”
Chesterton totaled 240 points to repeat as state champion. Avon was second at 198, followed by Penn 187, Columbus North 133, Carmel 124, Bloomington South 115, Hamilton Southeastern 109, Northridge 107, Zionsville 105 and Carroll (Fort Wayne) 84 to round out the Top Ten.
Elkhart Central finished in a tie for 43rd with Highland at four points.
Senior Jon Stoller had a great day for Northridge placing third in the 200-yard individual medley (1:49.60) and fourth in 100 breaststroke (55.96).
“Jon had a goal of going under 1:50 in the 200 IM and he did that,” Keller said. “I think he is only about the eighth or ninth high school kid to do that. He also eclipsed the Junior National standard. That is his first Junior National standard.”
Stoller was in sixth place about halfway through the 100 breast.
“He rallied and then had to turn right around and anchor the 400 free relay,” Keller said.
About his rally Stoller said, “I was just thinking about getting under 56 seconds, finishing fourth was just the icing.
“It kind of depends on the situation whether I concentrate on time or placing. It helps me focus on getting better.”
Stoller was pleased with his pair of Top Eight finishes.
“This was a fantastic day,” he said. “I made both of my goals. I could not be any happier.”
One of the Northridge youngsters was freshman Spencer Lehman who took seventh in the 200 freestyle (1:41.59) and fifth in the 500 free (4:34.72).
“It was pretty cool to come down here and place like that,” he said. “I wanted a Top Eight in the 500 and a Top 16 in the 200.
“This was a great experience. I got to talk to a lot of the older guys. They gave me some good advice and a lot of encouragement. I can’t wait for next year. I’m really looking forward to the next couple of years. My goals are to swim faster and place higher.”
As one of the youngsters he felt right at home with the rest of the team.
“Everybody was great,” Lehman said. “We had a lot of guys here cheering us on. I am proud to be a part of this team.”
Also for the Raiders, senior Taylor Berkey was 15th in diving (390.15 points), sophomore Seth Cripe 13th in the 200 freestyle (1:43.76) and 16th in the 500 free (4:44.60) and freshman Camden Koch 12th in 100 backstroke (53.01).
Koch, Stoller, sophomore Jeremy Burbrink and senior Takoda Friesen placed sixth in 200 medley relay (1:35.34). Lehman, Friesen, Cripe and Stoller were 10th in the 400 free relay (3:10.36).
“For Lehman to come in here and have two Top Eight finishes is great,”Keller said. “Koch, Cripe and Burbrink also had good meets.
“Now it is going to be all about doing the hard work and investing the time in the sport. If we do those things we could have a pretty special group here in a couple of years.”
Junior Liuz DeMiranda Leao, junior Liam O’Neill, freshman Erik Kruip and junior Williams Riblet were 29th 200 medley relay (1:40.30) and senior Brad Whitehead, junior Conner Flora, junior DeMiranda Leao and Riblet 15th in 200 free relay (1:28.75) for Elkhart Central.
Seniors Blake Pieroni and Aaron Whitaker each won a pair of individual events and also swam on a pair of winning relays for top-ranked Chesterton. Pieroni collected his third straight 100 freestyle title (43.81) and second consecutive in the 200 IM (1:46.83). Whitaker won the 100 butterfly (46.31) and 100 backstroke (47.06), both times were new state records.
Pieroni was named the Herman F. Keller Mental Attitude Award winner.
Penn had an individual state champion as junior Bowen Anderson captured the 500 free (4:25.01). The foursome of junior Mate Kovacs , Anderson, senior Hudson Bursch and junior Adam Wait finished first in the 200 free relay (1:24.65).
Sally Cripe of New Paris was the head starter at Saturday’s meet.