INDIANAPOLIS — Crawfordsville and Southmont swimming displayed their youth at the IHSAA Boys’ Swimming State Finals at the IU Natatorium at IUPUI in Indianapolis on Friday afternoon.
The Athenians had nine swimmers compete at the state meet in nine events, while Southmont’s Trent Jones competed in the 100 butterfly.
Crawfordsville’s best finish was in the 200 medley relay. The foursome of junior Marshall Horton, freshman Whitman Horton, junior Thristan Callejas, and senior Jack Pendleton just missed the cut, finishing 20th with a time of 1:38.51.
“It’s that same old game of getting as close to your sectional times as you can and hopefully get a chance to come back and get another try and score some points,” Crawfordsville coach Kevin Hedrick said. “That was our goal.”
The Athenians were seeded 17th, but added over a second to their qualifying time. Crawfordsville did have a handful of lifetime bests and improvements from last week’s sectional in their swims.
Freshman Whitman Horton dropped time in the 100 backstroke, finishing 27th with a time of 54.77 seconds. The group of junior Evan Chaney, junior Joseph Sanchez, senior Hunter Conrad, and junior Ben Brown also dropped time in the 400 freestyle relay, finishing 30th with a time of 3:32.74.
“We had so many kids here today it was awesome because they had a little bit of comradery and were able to cheer for each other,” Hedrick said. “We had some times that were better than sectional today, and we had four or five lifetime bests, which is definitely something we were trying to strive for is come here and do our best.”
Whitman Horton added a 32nd-place finish in the 500 freestyle with a time of 5:22.79. Marshall Horton placed 29th in the 100 freestyle in 48.14 seconds and 28th in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:00.51. Chaney was 32nd in the 200 individual medley with a time of 2:08.69 and the foursome of Chaney, Sam Decker, Brown, and Callejas placed 32nd in the 200 freestyle relay with a time of 1:33.15.
In 2019, Callejas was the lone Athenian at the state finals as a freshman. Crawfordsville added another individual and three relays last season, before qualifying nine events this season. They’ve come along way in just two years.
“That’s a culture change,” Hedrick said. “Those don’t typically happen quickly. And we are inching that direction and making some kids believe that they belong when they come over here, rather than coming over here and feeling like we are little fish in a big pond. We still are, but we’ve got some kids now that are looking out there and are saying ‘I think I can do that coach,’ and that’s a huge momentum builder for all of the program.”
Callejas placed 31st in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:49.95.
The goal next year will be to return to Saturday’s finals — something Hedrick believes is attainable after gaining experience this season.
“That’s the ticket. You come over here and watch the really fast kids and don’t feel like you belong,” he said. “That’s part of the deal is you’ve got to come, feel like you belong, feel like you are part of the mix. It’s just a natural maturation process. You have to do it. You have to be here young, and get the feel of it.”
Southmont’s Jones will have a chance to return next year as well after qualifying for the first time this season as a junior.
“The experience is what I hoped it would be,” Jones said. “It was really exciting to experience the Natatorium. My nerves were through the roof. My time wasn’t was what I was hoping it would be, but it was still my second fastest time, so I’m pretty happy with that.”
Jones placed 32nd in the 100 butterfly with a time of 54.98 seconds.
“As a coach you like to see someone who makes those changes in working out and training, and to see it all come together and bring it to the state meet is great,” Southmont coach Jane Coudret said. “He should be really proud of what he’s accomplished.”
Crawfordsville senior diver Eli Reeves will compete in the diving state finals on Saturday morning.