IndyStar is recognizing the Indiana high school athletes of the week presented by Defenders. Top Hoosier athletes are nominated by their athletic directors and coaches. For more information about our Indiana Sports Awards, contact Matthew VanTryon at firstname.lastname@example.org or Matthew Glenesk at email@example.com. These athletes were chosen for the week Jan. 28.
It all started with a dance party in October.
Olivia Hoeltke, a swimmer about to begin her sophomore season for Columbus East, was cleaning the house with her aunt April. Music was blaring. She fell off a table. Snap.
Her aunt thought she’d sprained her ankle. April tried to move Olivia’s toes towards her knee to test her range of motion. The bone shifted.
“It was a little bit sickening, to be completely honest, to feel somebody’s bone move,” April said.
Olivia’s first thought?
“I won’t be able to swim.”
She’d suffered a spiral fracture of the tibia in her left leg, a bruised bone and a sprained ankle. Doctors said she wouldn’t be able to swim for at least a month and a half. And that was if she was a fast healer. She wore a cast that went all the way up to her thigh.
Olivia still hung out with the team. She went to practices, kept times and gave a motivational speech to her team before a meet. But as someone who had been swimming competitively for four years, she really just wanted back in the water.
“My family has always said I was a water bug,” she said. “Before I could walk I was in the pool.”
Around Thanksgiving, she was taken out of the leg-length cast and put into a waterproof one. She started practicing right away.
“She was elated and couldn’t wait to get in,” coach Jill Arnholt said. “She didn’t want to go easy. She wanted to go for it. She got in a lane she thought she could keep up with and did a great job.”
The cast made turns difficult – she had to make sure she didn’t go cockeyed by pushing off with just one leg — but it was swimming.
Still, the healing process was slow. Several times she went back to see if the cast could come off, and the doctors would say, “two more weeks.” This happened three or four times. Finally, she was ready to compete in the team’s meet on Jan. 10. But there was a mental block.
“I got ready to get in the pool and couldn’t breathe because I was so nervous,” she said. “My mind was telling me, ‘You can’t do this.’ But I got in the water.”
Olivia swam in three meets before Thursday’s sectionals, building up endurance to compete in the 500 free. She was hoping to finish at or better than where she was at her best a year ago (6 minutes, 17 seconds), but finished prelims in 6:42.
“I’m just really proud of Olivia,” Arnholt said. “She wanted this bad. She didn’t get too down, always came and tried and wanted to be a part of the team the whole time.”
Aaron Frollo, Fishers
A freshman, Frollo won the 500 free at the Hoosier Crossroad Conference Championships last week with a time of 4:49.69.
Mack Smith, Warren Central
Smith scored 33 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the team’s first win over North Central since 2008. The next night, he scored 18 points and grabbed five rebounds in the team’s win over Crown Point. Smith is averaging a team-high 21 points and six rebounds per game and in the mix for the Indiana All-Star team.
Sophia Nolan, Marquette Catholic
Nolan scored 34 points, grabbed six rebounds and had two assists in the team’s win over North Newton last week. Three days later, she scored 37 points, grabbed seven rebounds and had three assists. In the two games combined, she shot 66 percent from the floor and 8-of-14 from behind the arc.
Isaac Dockery, Monroe Central
Dockery led sectional qualifying in Elwood last week with a 746 series and a 247 in the championship game. His regular season average is 198, his high game is 278 and his high series is 752.
Amelia Kiefer, Jasper
Kiefer led sectional qualifying with a 678 total and won her second consecutive sectional title with a 248 in the championship match. Kiefer was the runner-up at state finals last year.
Gleason Mappes, Center Grove
Mappes earned his first sectional title at 160 pounds last week and is 32-1 on the season. Mappes finished fourth in the state finals last year.