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  • Val T.

‘Fly’ guy: Valley frosh Smith makes swim state in 2 individual events:

Joins Hoffman, Parker, Whetstone on relay

Seuferer takes 3rd in 200 free, 500 free, leads Rochester to 4th place


Sports Editor, RTC

WARSAW — Marcus Smith is just 14 years old, but he accomplished in about an hour at the Warsaw boys swimming sectional final Monday what generations of Tippecanoe Valley swimmers have never done.

Marcus Smith

Smith, a freshman, won the 200 individual medley in 2:00.66 and the 100 butterfly in 54.18 seconds to qualify for state in both events.

He also swam the butterfly leg on the meet-opening 200 medley relay, which Valley won in 1:40.91, a new school record. Senior Brandon Hoffman, sophomore Carson Parker and freshman Isaac Whetstone joined him on the team.

Smith is the first Valley swimmer to make state in an individual event since Chase Brower advanced in the 50 freestyle in 2017.

“You find the rhythm, and then you just go,” Smith said of the butterfly. “It’s just a powerful, feel-good stroke. It just feels good to pull through the water.”

The state meet begins at 6 p.m. Friday. Smith is the No. 30 seed out of 32 swimmers in the 200 individual medley and the No. 32 seed in the 100 butterfly. The 200 medley relay is the No. 31 seed.

The top 16 in each event advance to the championship and consolation finals on Saturday.

Culver Academy won the team title for the second straight year with 409.5 points. Runner-up Warsaw had 298. Warsaw had won 13 consecutive sectional titles from 2008 to 2020.

Rochester finished fourth in the 11-team field with 227, Valley was fifth with 218, and Pioneer was eighth with 120.

Tippecanoe Valley

Smith’s win in the 100 butterfly was the only one of the 12 events in which the fastest qualifier from Saturday’s preliminaries did not win the title on Monday.

Smith qualified second on Saturday, 0.68 seconds behind Plymouth’s Fitz Holm.

And he was behind Holm through 75 yards in this race, but Smith veered slightly to the inside of the lane and seemingly drafted off Holm. He picked up speed, charged past Holm and won 54.18 seconds, a new personal record. Holm was second in 55.55.

Smith wondered afterwards if Holm was confused by where he was in relationship to the wall.

“I just got lucky,” Smith said. “He kind of stopped at the flags there. I was catching up, but it was really close. I’m really happy that I won that one. … I was confident I had a good chance of winning, but until that last 25, I thought I was going to lose.”

That capped off Smith’s historic hour in real time.

The hour started with Valley winning the 200 medley, dropping another 1.48 seconds off its top prelim time. Valley gained separation in the third leg, which is the butterfly leg, which is Smith’s leg.

Isaac Whetstone touched the wall 2.89 seconds ahead of the field and flexed his arms in celebration.

Historical records are unclear, but it’s believed to be Valley’s first relay to make the state finals in at least 20 years.

“I’d say with all our boys, it’s the dedication that they have,” Valley coach Katelyn Bradley said. “Same with Marcus. His parents are the club coaches, so he practices all year, it seems like. So he really puts in the effort and dedication to the sport. … All of them dropped crazy times.”

Smith also pulled away to win the 200 individual medley. While his time was 0.13 seconds slower than his prelim time, it was still 4.89 seconds faster than runner-up Cabot Ellert of Culver Academy.

In that event, Smith got to show off his proficiency in all the strokes, not just the butterfly. He’s swam competitively at the club level since he was 7 and credits coaches Tom Alexander, Jackie Apt and Scott Smith in helping him. Scott Smith also happens to be Marcus’ father.

Makena Smith, Marcus’ sister, is a junior on the girls team and finished seventh in the 100 breaststroke two weeks ago.

“I feel like it really helps to have a coach that really wants me to do absolutely the best,” Smith said. “Nothing against the other coaches, but my dad really focuses on me, and he tries not to be a favorite, but he goes harder on me and pushes me a lot more, and he looks at swimming a lot because he cares and wants me to be good.”

Whetstone, Smith, Hoffman and Parker also combined to finish second in the meet-closing 400 freestyle relay. The Valley quartet trimmed over five-and-a-half seconds off its prelim time but still finished over seconds behind the winners from Culver Academy.

Parker, a sophomore, was also second in the 100 breaststroke in 1:01.28 and third in the 50 freestyle in 23.14 seconds. Hoffman, a senior, was second in the 100 backstroke in 56.53 seconds and fourth in the 100 freestyle in 50.27 seconds. Whetstone, a freshman, was sixth in the 200 freestyle in 1:54.70 and fourth in the 500 freestyle in 5:06.81.

Valley finished fifth at the sectional for the third straight year even though they have only six boys on the team.

Bradley, in her second year as coach, was named sectional coach of the year by her peers.

“It’s fantastic,” Bradley said. “I have just an all-around fantastic group of kids. Coaching this sport is an absolute passion of mine. And I love the sport, and to have the dedication that these kids have makes it a dream.”


Seuferer was partially or completely responsible for 88 of the 227 points that the Zebras scored. His times of 1:50.87 in the 200 freestyle and 5:05.31 in the 500 freestyle are personal bests.

“Those are lifetime and high school PR times for him,” Rochester coach Stephanie Brown said. “He did really well. He had a good night. He also had great times on his relays. He finished where he wanted to finish. He had a great night.”

Dylan Steininger was the other Rochester swimmer to reach two individual finals, and he placed seventh in 2:17.79 in the 200 individual medley behind Valley’s Smith and eighth in the 100 backstroke in 1:02.70.

“That was his goal,” Brown said. “He wanted to make top eight for both of his events, so he got to swim top eight in all four of his events tonight, and that was his goal coming in, so we’re happy with that.”

Wes Steininger, Jake Freeman and R.J. Keranko each swam in one final and consolation race.

Wes Steininger was ninth in the 200 individual medley and sixth in the 100 butterfly in 1:00.32. Freeman knocked off six seconds from his prelim time and 25 seconds prior to his pre-sectional personal best in the 500 freestyle and finished fifth in 5:34.78. He was also 15th in 25.63 seconds in the 50 freestyle.

Keranko was seventh in the 100 freestyle in 54.98 seconds and 15th in the 100 breaststroke in 1:13.05.

Tanner Reese swam in two consolation races and was 13th in the 100 butterfly and 14th in the 200 freestyle and scored points in both events.

Rochester also finished seventh in the 200 medley relay, third in the 200 freestyle relay and eighth in the 400 freestyle relay.

Both the 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays consisted of Seuferer, Dylan Steininger, Wes Steininger and Keranko.

Lane Shank and Peyton Hiatt joined Freeman and Reese, who swam the anchor leg, on the 400 freestyle relay.


The highest placing Pioneer swimmers in an individual event were Ryan Logan, who took seventh in the 50 freestyle in 23.98 seconds, and freshman Ian Kitchell, who was seventh in the 100 backstroke in 1:02.31.

Owen Miller also made an individual final and was eighth in the 100 freestyle in 55.18 seconds, and he was also 10th in the 50 freestyle.

Kitchell also placed 15th in the 200 freestyle.

Freshman Austin Brooke also scored in two events, taking ninth in the 100 breaststroke and 10th in the 200 individual medley.

Among other Pioneer swimmers who swam who qualified for a consolation race, Ryan Adams was 11th in the 100 butterfly, Dillon Odom was 12th in the 200 freestyle, and Anderson Woodhouse was 12th in the 500 freestyle.

Pioneer was also 10th in the 200 medley relay, fourth in the 200 freestyle relay and third in the 400 freestyle relay.

Freshmen Leighton Dodt and Tayt Smith joined Kitchell and Adams on the 200 medley relay. Brooke, Odom, Miller and Logan swam one leg each on both the 200 freestyle relay and 400 freestyle relay. Logan swam anchor on the 200 freestyle relay while Brooke did so on the 400 freestyle relay.

Event champions and those who met a difficult state qualifying time standard qualified for state. Wabash’s Seth Blossom finished second in the 200 freestyle behind Culver Academy’s Mitchell Schott but qualified for state with his time of 1:42.26. The state cut was 1:43.00. Blossom, who also won the 100 backstroke, was the only swimmer at the meet to make state on the time standard.

Warsaw boys swimming sectional results: Culver Academy 409.5, Warsaw 298, Columbia City 249, Rochester 227, Valley 218, Plymouth 179.5, Logansport 147, Pioneer 120, Lewis Cass 113, Wabash 112, Manchester 80

Scoring on 20-17-16-15-14-13-12-11-9-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis for individual events and 40-34-32-30-28-26-24-22-18-14 basis for relays

Sectional champions plus all Rochester, Valley and Pioneer results

200 medley relay

1. Valley (Brandon Hoffman, Carson Parker, Isaac Whetstone) – 1:40.91, 7. Rochester (Jake Seuferer, Dylan Steininger, Wes Steininger, R.J. Keranko) – 1:50.88, 10. Pioneer (Ian Kitchell, Leighton Dodt, Ryan Adams, Tayt Smith) – 2:08.04

200 freestyle

1. Schott (CMA) – 1:38.01, 2. Blossom (WAB) – 1:42.26, 3. Jake Seuferer (RHS) – 1:50.87, 6. Isaac Whetstone (TV) – 1:54.70, 12. Dillon Odom (PIO) – 2:03.91, 14. Tanner Reese (RHS) – 2:05.27, 15. Ian Kitchell (PIO) – 2:07.17

200 individual medley

1. Marcus Smith (TV) – 2:00.66, 7. Dylan Steininger (RHS) – 2:17.79, 9. Wes Steininger (RHS) – 2:18.73, 10. Austin Brooke (PIO) – 2:20.98

50 freestyle

1. Maibach (CMA) – 21.79 seconds, 3. Carson Parker (TV) – 23.14, 7. Ryan Logan (PIO) – 23.98, 10. Owen Miller (PIO) – 24.71, 12. Eric Burke (TV) – 25.01, 15. Jake Freeman (RHS) – 25.63

100 butterfly

1. Marcus Smith (TV) – 54.18 seconds, 6. Wes Steininger (RHS) – 1:00.32, 11. Ryan Adams (PIO) – 1:01.79, 13. Tanner Reese (RHS) – 1:03.88

100 freestyle

1. Wihebrink (WAR) – 49.25 seconds, 4. Brandon Hoffman (TV) – 50.27, 7. R.J. Keranko (RHS) – 54.98, 8. Owen Miller (PIO) – 55.18

500 freestyle

1. Schott (CMA) – 4:35.54, 3. Jake Seuferer (RHS) – 5:05.31, 4. Isaac Whetstone (TV) – 5:06.84, 5. Jake Freeman (RHS) – 5:34.78, 12. Anderson Woodhouse (PIO) – 6:01.25, 15. Peyton Hiatt (RHS) – 6:15.77

200 freestyle relay

1. Culver Academy (Maibach, Ellert, Tullis, Schott) – 1:30.26, 3. Rochester (Dylan Steininger, R.J. Keranko, Wes Steininger, Jake Seuferer) – 1:36.69, 4. Pioneer (Austin Brooke, Dillon Odom, Owen Miller, Ryan Logan) – 1:36.81

100 backstroke

1. Blossom (WAB) – 52.18 seconds, 2. Brandon Hoffman (TV) – 56.53, 7. Ian Kitchell (PIO) – 1:02.31, 8. Dylan Steininger (RHS) – 1:02.70

100 breaststroke

1. Wihebrink (WAR) – 59.63 seconds, 2. Carson Parker (TV) – 1:01.28, 9. Austin Brooke (PIO) – 1:08.98, 15. R.J. Keranko (RHS) – 1:13.05

400 freestyle relay

1. Culver Academy (Schott, Tullis, Ellert, Maibach) – 3:18.02, 2. Valley (Isaac Whetstone, Marcus Smith, Brandon Hoffman, Carson Parker) – 3:25.55, 3. Pioneer (Ryan Logan, Owen Miller, Dillon Odom, Austin Brooke) – 3:37.58, 8. Rochester (Jake Freeman, Lane Shank, Peyton Hiatt, Tanner Reese) – 3:48.36

The Tippecanoe Valley 200 medley relay team consisting of, from left, Brandon Hoffman, Isaac Whetstone, Marcus Smith and Carson Parker won the Warsaw sectional title in a school record 1:40.91 Monday. They will compete at the IHSAA state finals at the Indiana University Natatorium in Indianapolis at 6 p.m. Friday. Smith will also swim in the 200 individual medley and the 100 butterfly after winning sectional titles in both individual events.

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