ELKHART — Concord won its third-straight girls swimming sectional championship Saturday in what was a competitive day of racing at the Elkhart Aquatics Center.
The Minutemen were able to automatically qualify in seven of the 11 swimming events for next week’s state meet. They also placed the top three divers, who advance to Tuesday’s diving regionals at Mishawaka High School.
Each sectional event winner automatically advances to state, as well as individuals who hit the “state standard” time of an event.
Concord scored 499 team points, besting second-place Northridge, who had 398 points. Wawasee scored 308 as a team to finish third. Northridge automatically qualified for state in five events, while Wawasee did so in six races.
The diving points helped the Minutemen create the separation they needed in the team standings. Senior Ryleigh Robinson won with a career-best score of 454.30 points across 11 dives. Classmate Delana Trigg was second at 355.70, while junior Kalia Starzyk was third with 343.75.
“It’s exciting for our diving coaches. They deserve it,” Concord head coach Tom Johnson said. “We’ve got really good people coaching diving, and the girls have worked hard. I’m really proud of them.”
NorthWood senior Caleah Kiel was the fourth and final diver to advance to regionals with a score of 298.80.
In the pool, Concord qualified in all three relay races: the 200-yard medley, 200-yard freestyle and 400-yard freestyle, the latter of which they won by 14 seconds.
Freshman Catie Brenneman qualified individually in the 200-yard freestyle and 500-yard freestyle, winning the 200 with a time of 1:49.51 and taking second in the 500 at 5:01.20.
Senior Audrey Lantz won the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 56.33 seconds and also placed third in the 50-yard freestyle, swimming the race in 23.66 seconds to make it to state.
Audrey’s twin sister, Ella, also advanced to state individually in the 100-yard freestyle, posting a time of 52.13 seconds to take third in that event. She then won the 100-yard backstroke event in a time of 56.25 seconds to punch her ticket to next week’s state meet.
Senior Sophia Stutsman joined Audrey Lantz in qualifying for the 100-yard butterfly with her time of 57.30 seconds.
“I thought Audrey Lantz was good; she looked really fast,” Johnson said. “I think she’s got a lot left in the tank for next week. I’m really pleased with how all three of our relays really swam; we only won one of them, but we’re really confident in what they can do at state next week.”
NORTHRIDGE FINISHES SECOND
The Raiders started the swimming championships with a bang, cutting more than 13 seconds off their prelim time to win the 200-yard medley relay. Their time of 1:45.47 edged out Wawasee’s team by 0.07 seconds, which proved to be the closest winning margin of the day.
“I don’t think anyone would’ve expected us to win that,” said Northridge coach Seth Cripe of the medley relay. “It was just awesome. And I know we can be faster in a lot of places in that relay.”
The Raiders then picked up individual wins from senior Sydney Nethercutt in the 500-yard freestyle (4:59.36) and freshman Izzy Melvin in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:04.74). They also automatically qualified their 200-yard freestyle relay team (1:37.84) and Nethercutt in the 200-yard freestyle (1:52.22).
Cripe started getting emotional talking about how Nethercutt’s high school career will be coming to a close next week.
“It’s going to be hard to see her leave,” the first-year head coach said. “She is the definition of what a true athlete and someone of good moral character is. She’s not done yet; she was 0.07 off from our 500-yard freestyle record last year. … It’s going to be an exciting time next week.”
MISHLER’S, BEASLEY LEAD WAWASEE TO THIRD
Three weeks ago at the Northern Lakes Conference championship meet, Wawasee sisters in senior Alexis Mishler and sophomore Julie Mishler swam across multiple different events, winning the majority of them and helping set five meet records along the way.
On Saturday, though, the sisters focused on just two events individually: the 50-and-100-yard freestyle races.
That strategy worked out just as well as the one from the NLC meet, as Julie and Alexis finished first and second, respectively, in those two races, both automatically advancing to the state meet in them.
Both sisters were part of the 200-yard medley relay and 200-yard freestyle relay teams that also qualified for state.
“We wanted to put them in the best positions to perform well at the state level,” said Wawasee coach Jason Scott of the Mishler’s. “We split them out in the conference meet in hopes of winning more events and maybe setting some records, and now we’re gearing for the big races in Indianapolis next weekend.”
Sophomore Addison Beasley also advanced to state in two events, winning the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 2:06.87 and finishing second in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:05.56.
“It’ll be nice having three girls down swimming in two individual events and two relays,” Scott said. “We’re pretty excited. They’ll be ready to fully be tapered for next week.”
2023 GIRLS SWIMMING SECTIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP MEET AT ELKHART — Event winners and automatic state qualifiers
Note: All swimming event winners automatically advance to next week’s state championship meet, plus those who swim the “state standard” time of the event. The top four divers advance to Tuesday’s diving regional tournament at Mishawaka High School.
1-meter diving (regional qualifiers): Ryleigh Robinson, Concord, 454.30 points; Delaney Trigg, Concord, 355.70 points; Kalia Starzyk, Concord, 343.75 points; Caleah Kiel, NorthWood, 298.80 points
200-yard medley relay: Northridge (Izzy Melvin, Tavia Bratt, Sydney Nethercutt and Americis Ingling), 1:45.47; Wawasee (Alexis Mishler, Hayden Neer, Kiah Farrington and Julie Mishler), 1:45.54; Concord (Ella Lantz, Bella Sponseller, Sophia Stutsman and Mya Ernsberger), 1:45.47
200-yard freestyle: Catie Brenneman, Concord, 1:49.51; Sydney Nethercutt, Northridge, 1:52.22
200-yard individual medley: Addison Beasley, Wawasee, 2:06.87
50-yard freestyle: Julie Mishler, Wawasee, 22.87 seconds; Alexis Mishler, Wawasee, 23.23 seconds; Audrey Lantz, Concord, 23.66 seconds; Ella Sears, Angola, 24.04 seconds.
100-yard butterfly: Audrey Lantz, Concord, 56.33 seconds; Sophia Stutsman, Concord, 57.30 seconds
100-yard freestyle: Julie Mishler, Wawasee, 50.46 seconds; Alexis Mishler, Wawasee, 50.72 seconds; Ella Lantz, Concord, 52.13 seconds
500-yard freestyle: Sydney Nethercutt, Northridge, 4:59.36; Catie Brenneman, Concord, 5:01.20
200-yard freestyle relay: Wawasee (Addison Beasley, Alexis Mishler, Kiah Farrington and Julie Mishler), 1:34.78; Concord (Audrey Lantz, Mya Ernsberger, Bella Sponseller and Catie Brenneman), 1:35.31; Northridge (Sam Hunter, American Ingling, Tavia Bratt and Sydney Nethercutt), 1:37.84
100-yard backstroke: Ella Lantz, Concord, 56.25 seconds
100-yard breaststroke: Izzy Melvin, Northridge, 1:04.74; Addison Beasley, Wawasee, 1:05.56
400-yard freestyle relay: Concord (Catie Brenneman, Sophia Stutsman, Ella Lantz and Audrey Lantz), 3:29.26
Final team standings:
1. Concord, 499 points
2. Northridge, 398
3. Wawasee, 308
4. Goshen, 205
5. Angola, 178
T6. Elkhart, 172
T6. NorthWood, 172
8. East Noble, 100
9. DeKalb, 46
10. Eastside, 41
Sectional Coach of the Year: Tom Johnson, Concord