The Greencastle sprinter swam a 21.55 in a tightly-packed 50 freestyle at the IHSAA Boys' Swimming Championship preliminaries Friday night at the IUPUI Natatorium. In swimming's fastest race, the senior is seeded 13th in the state to advance to today's consolation finals.
"I'm really proud of Jay Guffey's performance tonight," GHS coach Luke Beasley said. "I really hurt for him a little bit as a coach because he was .09 off making that top eight in the 50 free, which was one of his goals.
"He had a little trouble with his wall. He swam a great race -- he had a great start, great breakout -- but the turn wasn't there for him," he added.
Even with the disappointment of not making top eight, Beasley still spoke of a good swim and a big opportunity.
"It's still a personal best and a really fast swim -- a great swim," Beasley said. "He's just gotta get excited about the opportunity tomorrow and go out and try to win his consolation heat, try to get ninth in state. Being top 10 in the State of Indiana's pretty cool. He's got a chance to do that."
The 100 freestyle was another close call for Guffey, only this time it was nearly advancing. He swam a 47.51 to drop .65 seconds off his seed time. He went from the 33rd seed to a 21st place finish.
"His 100 free, he missed finals by about a 10th of a second," Beasley said. "I think he was at a disadvantage by not being in one of those faster heats to start with. That second 50 in a 100 of any stroke really comes down to racing. You've got to want it and really want to finish. It helps when you have a bunch of guys in your heat that you really want to beat.
"Hey, 47.5 is an awful fast swim, and another great effort by him," he added.
Nash Firebaugh was the Tiger Sharks' other individual state participant, swimming a 54.06 to finish 28th in the 100 butterfly.
While the freshman has a lot to be proud of in his first year of varsity competition, he had his sights set a bit higher than simply making state.
"I was pretty disappointed with my race today. I was hoping to go a 51.5, but I was too tight," Firebaugh said. "I wasn't relaxed."
His coach concurred, but sees bigger things in Firebaugh's future.
"I guarantee you he'll never be as nervous as he was today in another race," Beasley said. "It's good to get the experience, to get a chance to do this, and I think he can build on it. He's had a tremendous season, but we're only starting to see the beginning of what he can do."
"Overall, I thought it was a good experience for me. Next year I'll come back even stronger," Firebaugh said
The Tiger Sharks concluded the night with the 400 freestyle relay of Jessie Elkins, Mitchell Ball, Walter Chiarella and Guffey finishing 30th in a time of 3:22.06.
Unfortunately, this fell well short of their goal of setting the school record, which is under 3:20.
Ball, a junior, will be one of two Tiger Sharks -- along with Firebaugh -- returning with state finals experience next year.
Seniors Elkins and Chiarella finished their careers at the state finals, which is no small feat. Guffey will have that honor today.
"I'm proud of Jessie Elkins, Walter Chiarella, Jay Guffey. It's the last time they'll swim for Greencastle together on a relay team," Beasley said. "Those three guys have been a part of a lot of success at Greencastle. They've got a lot to be proud of when they look back on their careers. I'm grateful for the opportunity to work with them."
The finals of the IHSAA Swimming and Diving Championship begin today at 1 p.m. at the IUPUI Natatorium.