MIDDLEBURY — Before his team left the pool area after the Northridge boys swimming and diving sectional Saturday, Feb. 22, Elkhart Central coach Ryan Bounds made sure his team slapped hands with the champion Northridge Raiders.
It was a show of sportsmanship from a coach hoping to build his program to the point where they can compete for sectional championships with one of the best programs in the state.
While Central came home a solid second Saturday, they were still well behind a Northridge program that won its 12th straight sectional title.
The Raiders came home with 540 points, while Central was at 382. Concord was third at 347.
"We know how good Northridge is, but we want to continue building and getting better so we can be right there with them,’’ Bounds said. "This is another step for us, now we have to go out in the off-season and just get better and faster."
Meanwhile, Raider coach Joe Keller was pleased with another title, but he knows his team is almost expected to win championships.
"I don’t want this to not sound humble, but winning sectionals isn’t what our program is about," Keller admitted. "I think this is expected, now we want to go out and swim really well next week and compete for state championships.’’
Next week is the IHSAA state finals at the Indiana University Natatorium in Indianapolis. Swimming preliminaries begin at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 28. All of Saturday’s winners and those who swam under the state standard advance.
Northridge won 10 of the 12 events and even had swimmers finish in the top three spots in four of the events. Central’s Brad Whitehead (100 free) and Concord’s Steven Krecsmar (100 butterfly) were the only non-Raiders to break into the winner’s circle.
In Whitehead's victory, the Blue Blazers almost had a one-two-three finish of their own, as Whitehead just nipped teammate Luiz DeMiranda-Leao (48.99 to 49.33), while Conner Flora was fourth. Only Raider sophomore Logan Elijah came between the Blue Blazer trio.
"That was the most exciting moment of my coaching career,'' Bounds said proudly. "Brad was the sectional runner-up last year and he'll be the first person to tell you that being pushed by his teammates everyday in practice was a big part of his improvement this season."
Krecsmar was the first non-Northridge winner, edging the Raiders' Jeremy Burbrink in the butterfly.
"It's a great feeling and I'm excited to get the chance to go to the state finals, but it's weird being our only qualifier so far," Krecsmar — just a sophomore — said. "I felt really good and really fast and I'm happy with the win. Now I'm hoping some of my teammates will be able to join me when all the state times are released."
Northridge senior Jon Stoller and freshman teammate Spencer Lehman were two-time individual winners, as Stoller won the 200 IM and the 100 breaststroke, while Lehman won the 200 free and the 500 free.
"Stoller was solid, but he's all about next week,'' Keller said. "I'm confident that he'll come out and let his name be known at the finals.''
Perhaps the best moment of the day for Northridge came in the 500 freestyle, where Lehman posted the victory, with Seth Cripe second and Chayton Friesen was third. What made it special was, all three qualified for state with Cripe and Friesen going under the state standard.
Senior Takoda Friesen (50 free) and freshman Camden Koch (100 backstroke) also posted individual wins for the Raiders, while all three Northridge relay teams also won.
"I thought both Central and Concord swam well today,'' Keller said. "When our kids and coaches jumped into the water today to celebrate, I wanted to do it in unity because this was a total team effort. I thought we really raised our game.''
While Bounds will lose a solid senior class, he's hoping Saturday's results will be another part of the foundation for the Central program.
"This is the fourth year in a row we've had kids qualify for state, now we need to go down there and try and compete,'' Bounds said. "I believe our 200 medley relay team will have a fast enough time to advance and they deserve to. They broke a school record today that was set in 1997 and just missed the state mark by .051, so hopefully they'll get to swim next week too.''
In the diving competition, Northridge's Taylor Berkey posted a score of 447.60 to earn the victory. The next three finishers — Hudson Kay, Sam Bowser and Jacob Isnogle — were Goshen teammates.
The top four divers advance to the Penn Regional on Tuesday, Feb. 25, to compete for a spot at the state finals.
Team scores: Northridge 540, Elkhart Central 382, Concord 347, Wawasee 221, Elkhart Memorial 191, Goshen 168, NorthWood 116, DeKalb 80, East Noble 73, Angola 45
Summary of Events
200 medley relay — Northridge (Camden Koch, Jon Stoller, Jeremy Burbrink, Takoda Friesen) 1:35.21, Central 1:38.93, Concord 1:41.23, Memorial 1:44.07, Wawasee 1:49.69, Goshen 1:50.83, DeKalb 1:51.64, NorthWood 1:55.21
200 freestyle — Spencer Lehman (Nr) 1:41.07, #Seth Cripe (Nr) 1:42.58, Logan Elijah (Nr) 1:47.02, Stephen Krecsmar (C) 1:47.17, Liam O’Neill (EC) 1:47.27, Alexander Mark (C) 1:48.55, Logan Brugh (W) 1:48.68, Conner Flora (EC) 1:49.03..
200 individual medley — Jon Stoller (Nr) 1:54.13, #Camden Koch (Nr) 1:56.28, Chayton Friesen (Nr) 1:58.02, Erik Huang (EC) 2:01.39, Luke VanderVliet (C) 2:04.66, Andrew Hinds (CO 2:04.90, Cameron Green (M) 2:07.69, Mason Germonprez (W) 2:11.78..
50 freestyle — Takoda Friesen (Nr) 22..01, Nathan Rose (C) 22.06, Brad Whitehead (EC) 22.28, William Riblet (EC) 22.45, Conner Sandt (Nr) 22.72, ?Lucas McLain (Nr) 22.89, Payton Phelps (EC) 22.96, Seth Gillespie (D) 23.67.
Diving — Taylor Berkey (Nr) 447.60., Hudson Kay (G) 430.75, Sam Bowser (G) 386.65, Jacob Isnogle (G) 376.80, Austin Conrad (NW) 300.50, Nic Carr (EC) 292.55, Teagan Stutsman (NW)291.70, Mylon Betts (W) 284.20 .
100 butterfly — Stephen Krecsmar (C) 52.49, Jeremy Burbrink (Nr) 53.84, Cameron Green (M) 54.36, Erik Kruip (EC) 55.02, Jack Fann (EC) 56.48, Jesse Drake (Nr) 56.62, Lucas McLain (Nr) 56.63, Sam Wenzel (EC) 57.41.
100 freestyle — Brad Whitehead (EC) 48.99, Luiz DeMiranda-Leao (EC) 49.33, Logan Elijah (Nr) 49.34 Conner Flora (EC) 49.36, Conner Sandt (Nr) 49.51, Nathan Rose (C) 59.90, Zac Hershberger (W) 50.13, Brian Rees-Paul (C) 51.39.
500 freestyle — Spencer Lehman (Nr) 4:33.33, Seth Cripe (Nr) #4:40.83, Chayton Friesen (Nr) #4:42.58, Alexander Mark (C) 4:50.01, Logan Brugh (W) 4:52.45, Erik Huang (EC) 4:59.98, Carmeron Culp (C) 5:11.64, Ryan JAckowiak (C) 5:18.53..
200 freestyle relay — Northridge (Conner Sandt Seth Cripe, Spencer Lehman, Takoda Friesen) 1:27.54, Central (Luiz DeMiranda-Leao, Conner Flora, William Riblet, Brad Whitehead) #1:28.36, Concord 1:31.03, Wawasee 1:35.63, Memorial 1:41.58, NorthWood 1:42.39, Goshen 1:43.69, DeKalb DQ..
100 backstroke — Camden Koch (Nr) 52.82, Jeremy Burbrink (Nr) 55.67, Luke VanderVliet (C) 56.35, Brandon White (C) 57.19, Alex Bernth (Nr) 58.32, Erik Kruip (EC) 58.42, Ian Shreiner-Barger (G) 59.78, Danny Allen (W) 1:01.12.
100 breaststroke —Jon Stoller (Nr) 57.99, Philip Keller (Nr) 1:00.85, Jesse Drake (Nr) 1:01.10, Liam O’Neill (EC) 1:01.42, Andrew Hinds (C) 1:02.67, Alejandro Heredia (C) 1:04.04, Brian Vance (EC) 1:04.05, Austin King (M) 1:04.19 .
400 freestyle relay — Northridge (Seth Cripe, Takoda Friesen, Spencer Lehman, Jon Stoller) 3:10.74, Central 3:19.25, Concord 3:27.24, Wawasee 3:28.69, Memorial 3:29.89, Goshen 3:38.59, East Noble 3:51.00, NorthWood 4:09.85..
Next: IHSAA State Finals at the Indiana University Natatoriium in Indianapolis. Preliminaries begin at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 28