ELKHART — Two weeks after the Concord girls swim team won a sectional title, the Minutemen’s boys team followed suit.
Concord scored 384 team points to win a sectional championship Saturday at the Elkhart Aquatics Center in Elkhart. It was the second-straight sectional title and third one of the last four years for the Minutemen.
“They’ve come a long way from where we had been,” said Concord coach Tom Johnson of his boys’ program. “Really proud of our men. It was really a team effort. Everybody performed well. I’m proud of them.”
All swimming event winners automatically qualify for next weekend’s state meet at the IUPUI Natatorium, and Johnson hoped to be sending all three relay teams with wins. Two of the three won, as the 200-yard medley relay and 200-freestyle teams each won races. It would be the Minutemen's only two victories of the day.
The final relay, the 400-free, was won by Northridge in one of the more dramatic races of the day. The Raiders won with a time of 3:19.14, with Concord second at 3:19.56 and Wawasee third at 3:19.98.
It was a competitive meet throughout, with five different schools producing an individual champion. Northridge and Elkhart led the way by winning four events each, Concord won two and both Wawasee and Goshen won an event. Elkhart finished second in the team standings with 314 points, followed by Wawasee at 310, Goshen at 306 and Northridge at 267.
Goshen was within three points of Concord heading into the 500-yard freestyle relay, but that is the event where the Minutemen would pull away from the pack. While Northridge senior Luke Dibley won the race, Concord sophomore Thomas Brunner was second, junior Ben Ramer third and sophomore Caleb McDonald sixth.
“We knew that it would be tight,” Johnson said. “The 500 was our best event … then we had three in the top 16 in both the (backstroke) and (breaststroke), plus a good 200-free relay. So, we felt like we had four of our best events there in the back half of the meet.”
For the first time since Zac Herschberger in 2013, the Wawasee boys swimming program has an individual sectional champion. Freshman Nathan Harper was victorious in the 100-yard backstroke, edging Concord junior Ethan Davies by 0.6 seconds with a time of 53.34 to claim the victory.
After having a strong overall showing in the Northern Lakes Conference meet three weeks ago, Harper was confident coming into the sectional.
“I came into the race hoping I would win it, and so I got a little too comfortable during prelims,” Harper said. “I kicked it into gear for the finals, though, and it was a good race. The Lord has helped me and gave me the strength to swim it. … My goal this whole season was to be the sectional champion.”
The Warriors finished third as a team Saturday, which is also the highest finish for them since the 2013 season.
“We swam really good,” Harper said. “We had fun doing it. We’re a really close team. I’ve never been on a team this close. This is my first high school team and I’m really happy with how it turned out.”
ZEHR'S DREAM COMES TRUE
Goshen junior Nick Zehr said he’s dreamed about making it to the state meet since he was in sixth grade. Now, the RedHawk swimmer will get to live out that dream next week in Indianapolis.
Zehr won the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 52.88 seconds, sending him to the state prelims Friday at the IUPUI Natatorium.
After trailing through the first 50 yards, Zehr kicked it into overdrive to close the gap on Wawasee sophomore Nathan Kryder. The Goshen junior won the race by 0.87 seconds.
“I can’t explain how extremely happy I felt,” said Zehr of winning the race. “I just felt like exploding. It was like a dream come true.”
Goshen’s 306 team points was 34 points better from last year’s sectional total.
“I think we did great,” Zehr said. “We definitely improved over the past couple of years. This year is definitely the year that we’ve contended the most. Next year, I think we can be even better, though.”
2021 IHSAA BOYS SWIMMING SECTIONAL FINALS — EVENT WINNERS
All swimming event winners automatically qualify for next weekend’s state meet. The top four divers advanced to Tuesday’s regional diving competition at Valparaiso. Full results can be found at ihsaa.org.
200-yard medley relay: Derek Angel, Brayden Sollars, Braeden Messenger and Austin Zimmerman, Concord, 1:39.53
200-yard freestyle: Luke Dibley, Northridge, 1:42.60
200-yard individual medley: Tristin Bratt, Northridge, 1:57.02
50-yard freestyle: David Welles, Elkhart, 22.12
100-yard butterfly: Nick Zehr, Goshen, 52.88
100-yard freestyle: Lucas Byrd, Elkhart, 46.32
500-yard freestyle: Luke Dibley, Northridge, 4:41.35
200-yard freestyle relay: Brayden Sollars, Ethan Davies, Austin Zimmerman and Thomas Brunner, Concord, 1:30.30
100-yard backstroke: Nathan Harper, Wawasee, 54.34
100-yard breaststroke: Lucas Byrd, Elkhart, 57.01
400-yard freestyle relay: Luke Dibley, Caleb Kauffman, Jacob Sullivan and Tristin Bratt, Northridge, 3:19.14
1-meter diving: Nick Hardy, Elkhart, 451.30 points
- Also advancing to the diving regional: Ethan Smith, Concord; Nick Jones, NorthWood; Owen Fleck, East Noble
Final team standings:
1. Concord, 384 points
2. Elkhart, 314
3. Wawasee, 310
4. Goshen, 306
5. Northridge, 267
6. Angola, 213
7. NorthWood, 146
8. East Noble, 135
9. DeKalb, 36
10. Jimtown, 5
11. Fremont, 2