After dominating last week's sectional meet at Crawfordsville, the Tiger Sharks found themselves without anyone seeded in a position to advance to today's finals at the IUPUI Natatorium.
It's a problem small schools often face when their swimmers reach the state meet. All they can do is bring back the energy they put into their sectional preparation and see what kind of noise they can make at the big meet.
Although the Sharks have no one returning for the finals, they did get nice time drops in the medley relay and from Luke Crimmins' backstroke. Coach Daniel Bretscher thought the time drops could go a long way in proving to his team they belong.
"Just for us to have proved to ourselves that we can swim faster at the state meet is a big deal," Bretscher said.
The lesson is especially important in that six of the seven GHS swimmers in action Friday will return next year. Miles Salman was the group's only senior.
"We had seven guys swim here and six of them will be coming back next year-- only one's a senior. So we have six guys on our team with state meet experience and they have the confidence now to know that you can go faster at stat," Bretscher said. "That will play a big part going into next year. Hopefully we'll all be back."
The equation is tricky, though, for swimmers from a smaller school, as they have to focus so much energy on making sure they advance out of sectional. They focus all year on trying to peak for sectional, and then have to trick their bodies into doing it again a week later.
"For the entire first four months of the season, all of our focus and everything we talked about, we built up all of our intensity for the sectional meet. We put all of our eggs in the sectional basket," Bretscher said.
"We had a great sectional meet last week. Everything went our way, and now all of a sudden, we've got five days to build up that same intensity and focus that you've been building up for four months and bring that back to the state meet," he said.
The meet started well for the Sharks. The medley team of Crimmins, Ryan Payne, Jesse Elkins and Nick Stevens swam a 1:40.62, an improvement of .18 seconds. GHS also improved from a 22nd seed going in to a 19th-place finish.
"The kids decided they wanted more and they wanted to do more. We really focused on the medley relay; we had a chance of coming back. We dropped about two tenths and finished 19th, so they just missed getting in," Bretscher said.
"We dropped time in our medley," he commented. "We did better than I thought (we would)."
The biggest drop came in Crimmins' backstroke. The junior won the second heat of the backstroke with a 54.23, which was 1.14 seconds better than his seed time.
Most impressively, he went from his 29th seed to an 18th-place finish, also a narrow miss of the finals.
Although there were not drops in the other events, there was some valuable experience gained by the other state qualifiers. Before Friday, Crimmins was the only GHS swimmer who had previous state experience.
Stevens, the only Tiger Sharks who qualified in two events, finished 28th in both the 200 free and 500 free. He swam a 1:51.54 in the 200 and 4:56.89.
The 200 was especially challenging, as he swam it in the heat immediately after he had anchored the medley relay.
In the 100 butterfly, freshman Elkins finished 32nd with a 59.78.
Payne turned in a 1:06.22 to finish 32nd in the 100 breaststroke.
The 200 free relay team of Stevens, Luke Smith, Jay Guffey and Salman finished 29th with a 1:34.52.
Although so much focus and energy went into sectional, Bretscher thought his squad did a good job of turning around and getting ready for state.
"That was our big challenge, and I've talked to them all week about that. I thought we handled it fantastic today," Bretscher said. "Although last week was such a great meet for us, we didn't allow ourselves to be completely satisfied with what happened."
"We came in with a pretty inexperienced group," the coach said. "I like the way they handled this meet and the pressure. They really performed well."
At IUPUI Natatorium
IHSAA State Finals
Individual Results (Greencastle only)
200 Medley Relay -- 19. Crimmins, Payne, Elkins, Stevens 1:40.62.
200 Freestyle -- 28. Stevens 1:51.54.
100 Butterfly -- 32. Elkins 59.78.
500 Freestyle -- 28. Stevens 4:56.89.
200 Freestyle Relay -- 29. Stevens, Smith, Guffey, Salman 1:34.52.
100 Backstroke -- 18. Crimmins 54.23.
100 Breaststroke -- 32. Payne 1:06.22.