The Indiana high school girls swimming and diving championships begin Thursday with sectional preliminaries in swimming and continue Saturday with diving and swimming consolations and finals.
Sectional swimming event winners, plus those meeting state standards or having the next fastest times to bring the field of competitors to 32, will advance to the Feb. 12 state preliminaries. The top four divers in each sectional will move on to the Feb. 9 diving regionals. The state finals run Feb. 12-13.
“The metro area is stacked with talent and speed,” said North Central coach Matt Papachronis. “Carmel, Fishers, Hamilton Southeastern, Zionsville and (us are) collectively as strong as ever and will make an impressive showing at the state tournament.”
Here are some things to watch heading into what could be a historic postseason tournament.
Center Grove has long dominated the sectional featuring south-side teams. The Trojans have won 26 consecutive sectional crowns dating back to 1989-90 – the second-longest active streak behind Carmel (31).
Could this be the year the host Grizzly Cubs end that run?
Franklin has been the perpetual bridesmaid in the sectional, finishing second to Center Grove eight straight years. However, the Cubs enter the postseason ranked 11th in the state with a 10-0 dual meet record to go with Mid-State Conference and Johnson County championships.
A trio of freshmen – Carla Gildersleeve, Ali Terrell, and Jessie Fraley – have been the team’s top scorers. Franklin last won a sectional in 1989.
“We’ve only had one state finalist in the last 15 years in swimming,” said fourth-year coach Zach DeWitt. “With no tradition to speak of in recent memory, the girls will have to blaze a trail and compete against some of the most storied programs and cultures in Indiana. Definitely, we’ve put ourselves in a position to win the sectional, but ultimately we’ll be gauging our success on how many girls we can advance to the big show.”
Hamilton Southeastern vs. Fishers
Sure, there are other teams in this sectional, but if history is an indicator, these two teams will battle to the wire for the championship.
The neighboring foes have alternated sectional crowns each of the past four seasons, with Hamilton Southeastern edging the Tigers 507-494 last year. Fishers is ranked third in the state and the host Royals are rated fourth.
Returning All-Americans in senior Maggie Jahns and juniors Lauren Edelman and Lauryn Parrish lead the Tigers.
Seniors Natalie Mudd, Robyn Clevenger, Allie Barnes, and Lauren Blanchard lead the Royals.
“(Hamilton Southeastern) handled us in very close meets three times this season,” said Tigers coach Jay Chambers. “The sectional competition should be fierce and fast.”
Eighth-ranked North Central is gunning for its ninth straight sectional championship in the Lawrence North Sectional … No. 10 host Zionsville is going for its 11th consecutive title … Did we mention this could be a postseason for the ages? Top-ranked Carmel is knocking on the door of its 30th straight state championship. If the Greyhounds stand atop the podium at the Natatorium at IUPUI on Feb. 13, they’ll do so as the only high school program to win championships over three straight decades. Punahou (Honolulu) High School’s boys swim and diving team won 29 straight from 1958-86.