Kelly sets RHS diving record, helps Zebras to 4th-place finish; Pioneer’s Mersch 5th in 50 free, 100 free
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
Brandon Hoffman did not make the IHSAA boys swimming state finals.
Might next year be his year?
Hoffman, a junior at Tippecanoe Valley, finished third in the 100 freestyle and second in the 100 backstroke at the Warsaw sectional Saturday and helped his Vikings to a fifth-place finish in the 12-team field.
Rochester was fourth with 243 points. Valley was next with 140, and Pioneer was 10th with 61.5.
Culver Academy won the title with 408 points, ending Warsaw’s run of 13 consecutive sectional titles in their home pool. Columbia City was second with 359, and Warsaw was third with 354.5.
Rochester’s Jake Seuferer was fifth in the 200 freestyle and fourth in the 500 freestyle, and junior sprinter freestyler Layne Backus was seventh in the 50 freestyle in 24.00 seconds and eighth in the 100 freestyle in 53.69 seconds.
However, the member of Rochester’s team with perhaps the most significant accomplishment was junior Kadin Kelly, who not only qualified for diving regional for the third straight year by finishing third but also broke the school record for diving in an 11-dive program with 378.70 points.
Kelly broke Cameron Bugno’s school record. Bugno scored 360.05 points in 2013.
Incidentally, senior Braxton Jimenez, who finished fifth and did not advance, scored 371.70 points and also surpassed Bugno’s old mark. A third RHS diver, junior Bradly Bickle, flirted with Bugno’s mark and took sixth with 354.45 points.
Pioneer senior Joseph Mersch finished fifth in both the 50 and 100 freestyles in 22.97 and 52.03 seconds, respectively.
The Zebras also took fourth in the 200 medley relay, fifth in the 200 freestyle relay and third in the 400 freestyle relay, which accounted for 90 points.
The 200 medley relay consisted of Anthony Peterson, Ethan Brady, Wes Steininger and Dylan Steininger. The 200 freestyle relay consisted of Backus, Peyton Hiatt, R.J. Keranko and Seuferer. The 400 freestyle relay consisted of Backus, Dylan Steininger, Wes Steininger and Seuferer.
Seuferer, perhaps more well-known for distance events, had splits of 24.2 and 51.6 in the 200 freestyle relay and 400 freestyle relay, respectively.
“Jake had a pretty good day Saturday,” Rochester coach Stephanie Brown said. “He kinda held right where he was on Thursday, but his relay splits were great. He went faster in the 50 and 100 than we’ve seen him go ever. Those were some times that we were pleased with from him. … He felt really good on Thursday, almost better than he did on Saturday, and he was able to tell us that, and so for him, we feel like maybe we tweak his taper for next year based upon that.”
Another standout was Keranko. In the open 50 free, he took 11th in 25.26 seconds after never having broken 28 seconds in the event prior to sectionals. Then, in the 200 freestyle relay, he fired off a 24.6 split, even faster than Backus.
Other RHS individual swimmers included Dylan Steininger, who was 10th in both the 200 individual medley and 100 freestyle; Wes Steininger, who was 11th in the 200 individual medley (0.01 seconds behind his older brother Dylan) and 10th in the 100 butterfly; Anthony Peterson, who was 16th in the 200 freestyle and ninth in 100 backstroke; Ethan Brady, who was 10th in a personal best 1:11.62 in the 100 breaststroke; Peyton Hiatt, who shaved four seconds off his prelim time in the 500 freestyle and took 15th; Keranko, who also took 15th in the 100 breaststroke; and Tanner Reese, who took 16th right behind Hiatt in the 500 freestyle.
“So all the way up until conference, Dylan was faster than Wes,” Brown said of the Steininger brothers’ mini-rivalry in the 200 individual medley. “And then at conference, Wes out-touched Dylan. And then they both ended up in the IM again, not because we necessarily wanted them to race; that’s just where we thought as individuals they could do their best.
“And they’ve had the brother thing going back and forth as to who’s going to win. So Thursday night, Wes beat Dylan by three-hundredths, and they were in different heats. So they’ve been teasing each other back and forth about that. And Dylan on by one-hundredth on Saturday. So that was fun to watch. If you watched online, we kept catching them sneaking a peak at each other the whole race. It was funny. … As coaches, it didn’t matter to us which one of them won. What we were excited about was how much time they both dropped.”
Brown replaced Peterson and Brady with Hiatt and Keranko for the 200 freestyle relay. While the 200 freestyle relay team’s time was over a second slower without the two seniors, Peterson lopped off 3.15 seconds from his prelim backstroke time, and Brady was 1.32 seconds faster in the breaststroke.
“We kind of gave Anthony and Ethan a little bit of break before the backstroke and breaststroke,” Brown said. “Anthony and Ethan were both able to see some time drop not having to come right off a relay. So that was exciting for them being their last sectional, and we were glad to be able to work that out for them that they could do that.”
In both races, the only swimmers who finished ahead of him were seniors. Hoffman broke the 50-second mark in the 100 freestyle, swimming a 49.88 and finishing behind only Warsaw’s Michael Ray (48.13) and Columbia City’s Charlie Varga (49.48).
In the 100 backstroke, Hoffman dropped 0.21 seconds off his preliminary time from two days earlier and swam a 56.94. Only Northfield senior Grant Dale, who swam a 53.61, beat him.
Freshman Carson Parker was the only other Valley swimmer to swim in an individual final, and he was seventh in the 200 individual medley in 2:12 87 and fourth in the 100 breaststroke in 1:07.26.
In the consolation round, Karl Parker was 10th in the 200 freestyle and 13th in the 100 butterfly.
Valley was also third in the 200 medley relay and fourth in the 400 freestyle relay. Hoffman, Carson Parker, Karl Parker and Eric Burke made up both scoring relays.
Mersch was swimming in an individual sectional final race for the first time in his career. He shaved 0.13 seconds off his prelim time in the 50 freestyle but finished 1.57 seconds behind eventual winner Grant Dale of Northfield.
In the 100 freestyle, Mersch dropped 1.44 seconds off his prelim time and swam a 52.03 but still finished behind Warsaw’s Ray.
In the consolation races, Ryan Logan tied for 13th in the 100 freestyle, Dillon Odom was 14th in the 200 freestyle, and Ryan Adams was 16th in the 100 butterfly.
The 200 freestyle relay team of Mersch, Logan, Adams and Odom took sixth in 1:41.27.
Warsaw boys swimming sectional notes
Culver Academy’s Mitchell Schott advanced to state four times Saturday, winning the 200 freestyle and 500 freestyle and and swimming a leg on his team’s victorious 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle relays. Culver Academy won the 400 freestyle relay by over 13 seconds.
Culver Academy’s other individual sectional champ was diver Reid Omilian, who scored 452.05 points. Omilian would go on to place sixth at diving regional three days later at Valparaiso and advance to state. Omilian became the first diver to make it to state out of the Warsaw sectional since Michael Boyle in 2011.
In addition to Omilian and Kelly, Warsaw’s Jayce Sawyer (second place, 393.70 points) and Lewis Cass’ Briceton Ellington (fourth place, 375.70 points) also advanced to diving regional.
Grant Dale, Northfield’s one-person team, won both the 50 freestyle and 100 backstroke. He won the sectional in the 100 backstroke for the third straight year.
Wabash sophomore Seth Blossom, who won the 500 freestyle at last year’s sectional, won the 200 individual medley and 100 butterfly this time in 1:59.55 and 53.33 seconds, respectively. Warsaw’s Cooper Archer, who won the sectional in the individual medley last year, was third. Culver Academy’s Francis Ellert, who won the sectional in the 100 butterfly last year, was second this time in 53.96.
Warsaw sectional champions included Ray in the 100 freestyle and sophomore Ian Wihebrink in the 100 breaststroke in 1:00.23. A Warsaw swimmer has won the sectional in the 100 breaststroke every year since 2011.
To advance to the state finals, an individual or relay must win their sectional or meet a difficult state qualifying time. One can also advance by having one of the top 32 fastest times that does not meet either of the other criteria. No individuals or relay teams advanced based on the latter two criteria this year. Schott did beat the state qualifying standards in both the 200 freestyle and 500 freestyle.
WARSAW BOYS SWIMMING SECTIONAL: Culver Academy 408, Columbia City 359, Warsaw 354.5, Rochester 243, Valley 140, Plymouth 134, Wabash 112. Logansport 103, Lewis Cass 77, Pioneer 61.5, Manchester 61, Northfield 40
Scoring on 20-17-16-15-14-13-12-11-9-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis for individual events and 40-34-32-30-28-26-24-18-14 basis for relays
All winners plus Rochester, Valley and Pioneer swimmers
200 medley relay
1. Warsaw (Archer, Wihebrink, Taylor, Ray) – 1:39.70, 3. Valley (Brandon Hoffman, Carson Parker, Karl Parker, Eric Burke) – 1:49.73, 4. Rochester (Anthony Peterson, Ethan Brady, Wes Steininger, Dylan Steininger) – 1:52.07, DQ. Pioneer (Michael Depoy, Kendric Personett, Owen Miller, Ryan Logan)
1. Schott (CMA) – 1:39.17, 5. Jake Seuferer (RHS) – 1:56.44, 10. Karl Parker (TV) – 2:01.39, 14. Dillon Odom (PIO) – 2:12.64, 16. Anthony Peterson (RHS) – 2:17.29
200 individual medley
1. Blossom (WAB) – 1:59.55, 7. Carson Parker (TV) – 2:12.87, 10. Dylan Steininger (RHS) – 2:17.49, 11. Wes Steininger (RHS) – 2:17.50, 14. Ethan Brady (RHS) – 2:27.83
1. Dale (NF) – 21.40 seconds, 5. Joseph Mersch (PIO) – 22.97, 7. Layne Backus (RHS) – 24.00
11. R.J. Keranko (RHS) – 25.26, 16. Eric Burke (TV) – 26.64
Diving (top four advance to regional)
1. Omilian (CMA) – 452.05 points, 2. Sawyer (WAR) – 393.70, 3. Kadin Kelly (RHS) – 378.70 (school record), 4. Ellington (LC) – 375.70, 5. Braxton Jimenez (RHS) – 371.70, 6. Bradly Bickle (RHS) – 354.45, 11. Eric Burke (TV) – 247.50
1. Blossom (WAB) – 53.33 seconds, 10. Wes Steininger (RHS) – 1:02.51, 13. Karl Parker (TV) – 1:03.08, 16. Ryan Adams (PIO) – 1:09.45
1. Ray (WAR) – 48.13 seconds, 3. Brandon Hoffman (TV) – 49.88, 5. Joseph Mersch (PIO) – 52.03, 8. Layne Backus (RHS) – 53.69, 10. Dylan Steininger (RHS) – 54.72, t-13. Ryan Logan (PIO) – 57.36
1. Schott (CMA) – 4:31.66, 4. Jake Seuferer (RHS) – 5:13.92, 15. Peyton Hiatt (RHS) – 6:17.50, 16. Tanner Reese (RHS) – 6:24.48
200 freestyle relay
1. Culver Academy (Maibach, F. Ellert, C. Ellert, Schott) – 1:29.63, 5. Rochester (Layne Backus, Peyton Hiatt, R.J. Keranko, Jake Seuferer) – 1:41.18, 6. Pioneer (Joseph Mersch, Ryan Logan, Ryan Adams, Dillon Odom) – 1:41.27
1. Dale (NF) – 53.61 seconds, 2. Brandon Hoffman (TV) – 56.94, 9. Anthony Peterson (RHS) – 1:06.11
1. Wihebrink (WAR) – 1:00.23, 4. Carson Parker (TV) – 1:07.26, 10. Ethan Brady (RHS) – 1:11.62, 15. R.J. Keranko (RHS) – 1:16.06
400 freestyle relay
1. Culver Academy (Maibach, F. Ellert, C. Ellert, Schott) – 3:18.94, 3. Rochester (Layne Backus, Dylan Steininger, Wes Steininger, Jake Seuferer) – 3:35.34, 4. Valley (Karl Parker, Brandon Hoffman, Eric Burke, Carson Parker) – 3:36.30
Jake Seuferer Kadin Kelly