DUNLAP — For the first three years of his high school career, Goshen's Adam Bratten knew how many NBA players felt in the 1990s when the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan were in their prime.
Saturday at the Northridge Boys Swimming and Diving Sectional, Bratten had his moment in the sun, winning the title in the 100 freestyle. “Northridge has always had such great teams and it felt like they put their best swimmers in my race every year,” Bratten said with a smile. “It's been one of my goal to reach the high school state finals in my career and it really feels great to make it.”
Bratten posted a time of 48.03 in the 100 free, beating Central's Brad Whitehead (48.76) and Wawasee's Zac Hershberger (48.89) for the title.
But Bratten's title didn't stop the runaway train known as Northridge, as the fourth-ranked Raiders won their 11th straight team title, rolling up 510 points and winning six individual events and the three relays. Central finished second with 360.5, Wawasee had a great day and finished third, while Concord (320.5) was fourth.
After posting the top time in Thursday's preliminaries, Bratten entered the finals confident and favored to win. But it nearly all came apart for the senior once the championship race got under way.
“When I looked up at one point and saw how close the race was, it surprised me because I didn't expect it to be quite so close,” Bratten admitted. “It kind of threw me a little and I didn't hit a couple of my turns right, but fortunately, I was still able to get the win.”
While Bratten was a favorite, Wawasee's Hershberger was a surprise winner in the 100 breast stroke. Hershberger qualified third for the event, but cut almost four seconds off his preliminary time and won the event with a time of 1:00.57 — beating Northridge freshman Jesse Drake (1:02.07).
“It feels really great that all the time I put in trying to improve during the year has paid off with a trip to the state finals,” Hershberger said. “Coach (Julie) Robinson said that if I came in here and swam my best race that I could win. But I haven't swam a 1:00 since sectionals last year, so to do that and earn a trip to state is just unreal.”
Northridge got a pair of victories from senior Austin Flager (50 free and backstroke) and junior Jon Stoller (200 IM and 100 butterfly). The dynamic duo also swam on two winning relay teams. Freshman Seth Cripe (200 free) and senior Joe Mueller (500 free) were also individual champs for the Raiders.
Flager is the defending state champion in the backstroke.
But veteran coach Joe Keller credits his 200 medley relay team for setting the tone right out of the box, as the team of Stoller, Flager, Austin Bernth and Takoda Friessen broke both the sectional and pool record by swimming a 1:35.12 in the day's first event.
“That was something we really didn't see coming,” Keller said. “They had swam OK in practice this week, but we were expecting a 136.5 to a low 137 from them. So for them to go out and set a sectional record, well, it really set the tone.”
Central had only one winner — diver Nick Ponce — but coach Ryan Bounds and the Blue Blazers are starting to build the kind of depth needed to compete with Northridge.
“We did well in the sectional last year, but that was with an older group of guys,” Bounds said. “This year, we have a bunch of young kids and I feel good about where the program is going. We went into the preliminaries with a lot of kids seeded seventh, eighth and ninth, right on the edge. So when those kids swam well Thursday, it helped everyone's confidence.”
Ponce, Northridge's Taylor Berkey, Sam Bowser of Goshen and Malcolm DeShone of Concord advance to Tuesday's Diving Regional at South Bend Riley.
The IHSAA state finals begin Friday at the IU Natatorium in Indianapolis.
Team scores: Northridge 510, Central 360.5, Wawasee 331, Concord 320.5, Goshen 211, Memorial 133, DeKalb 101, NorthWood 72, East Noble 64, Angola 61, Fremont 29.
Summary of Events
200 medley relay — Northridge (Austin Bernth, Jon Stoller, Austin Flager, Takoda Friessen) 1:35.12 (broke pool and sectional record of 1:35.66 set by Northridge in 2011), Central 1:41.98, Concord 1:44.73, Goshen 1:45.03, Wawasee 1:50.58, Memorial 1:50.74, DeKalb 1:53.66, NorthWood 2:00.46.
200 freestyle — Seth Cripe (Nr) 1:45.75, Tyler Matthews (Nr) 1:51.72, Liam O'Neill (Ce) 1:48.89, Sebastian List (W) 1:49.49, Chayton Friesen (Nr) 1:51.39, Stephen Krecsmar (Co) 1:51.45, Alexander Mark (Co) 1:53.76, Conner Flora (ce) 1:54.73.
200 individual medley — Jon Stoller (Nr) 1:54.67, Austin Bernth (Nr) 1:57.01 (state qualifier), Joe Mueller (Nr) 2:00.74, Erik Huang (Ce) 2:02.32, Luke VanderVliet (C0) 2:05.05, Arman Salim (F) 2:05.71, Andrew Busse (W) 2:09.35, Andrew Hinds (C0) 2:10.62.
50 freestyle — Austin Flager (Nr) 21.21, Brad Whitehead (Ce) 22.38, Trent Chamness (Co) 22.38, Luke Smith (W) 22.43, William Riblett (Ce) 23.09, Nathan Rose (Co) 23.18, Lucas McLain (Nr) 23.44, Conner Sandt (Nr) 23.59.
Diving — Nick Ponce (Ce) 484.50, Taylor Berkey (Nr) 462.45, Sam Bowser (G) 368.21, Malcolm DeShone (Co) 346.10, Hudson Kay (G) 334.05, Andrew Buller (G) 315.35, Tristan Mauk (W) 312.20, Matthew Jarvis (M) 311.75.
100 butterfly — Jon Stoller (Nr) 51.56, Takoda Friesen (Nr) 54.11, Arman Salim (F) 54.72, Jeremy Burbrink (Nr) 55.15, Logan Brugh (W) 55.54, Daniel Swihart (G) 57.76, Samuel Wenzel (Ce) 58.04, John Turner (D) 59.25.
100 freestyle — Adam Bratten (G) 48.03, Brad Whitehead (Ce) 48.76, Zac Hershberger (W) 48.89, Trent Chamness (Co) 49.32, Luke Smith W) 49.62, Luiz DeMirandaleao (Ce) 49.96, Conner Sandt (Nr) 51.09, Jesse Drake (Nr) 51.47.
500 freestyle — Joe Mueller (Nr) 4:41.88, Tyler Matthews (Nr) 4:47.07, Seth Cripe (Nr) 4:50.70, Logan Brugh (W) 4:52.96, Erik Huang (Ce) 4:54.75, Alexander Mark (Co) 5:03.60, Stephen Krecsmar (Co) 5:04.15, Andrew Busse (W) 5:06.97.
200 freestyle relay — Northridge (Austin Flager, Takoda Friesen, Jon Stoller, Austin Bernth) 1:26.15, Wawasee 1:30.35, Concord 1:32.55, Central 1:32.88, Memorial 1:39.14, Goshen 1:39.28, DeKalb 1:1:39.34, East Noble 1:43.60.
100 backstroke — Austin Flager (Nr) 51.55, Adam Bratten (G) 53.70, Luke VanderVliet (C0) 56.36, Jeremy Burbrink (Nr) 57.08, Sebastian List (W) 5.62, Luiz DeMirandaleao (Ce) 57.77, Brandon White (Co) 58.48, Alex Bernth (Nr) 58.50.
100 breaststroke — Zac Hershberger (W) 1:00.57, Jesse Drake (Nr) 1:02.07, Liam O'Neill (Ce) 1:03.79, Philip Keller (Nr) 1:04.06, Chayton Friesen (Nr) 1:04.79, Mason Germonprez (W) 1:06.05, Andrew Hinds (Co) 1:06.14.
400 freestyle relay — Northridge (Joe Mueller, Conner Sandt, Takoda Friesen, Austin Bernth) 3:32.13, Wawasee 3:17.94, Central 3:18.16, Concord 3:24.55, Goshen 3:30.73, Memorial 3:50.36, Angola 3:58.01, Est Noble 4:00.55.