Jasper wins title; Pats advance five to state

Photos by Daniel Vasta/The Herald
The Jasper boys swimming and diving team celebrate winning Saturday's sectional championship at the Jasper High School Natatorium. The Wildcats placed first overall with 387.5 points despite not having a single first place finisher or anyone advance to next week's IHSAA State Finals. Jasper used its depth to help lead them to their first boys swimming sectional title since 2016. For more photos from the sectional meet, click here.


JASPER — If you just took a quick look at Jasper’s boys swimming roster, you’d realize rather quickly just how young of a team the Wildcats have.

In fact, 10 of the 13 swimmers were competing in their first ever sectional meet on Saturday afternoon.

But even with the abundance of youth and the fact the Wildcats won’t be sending any individual swimmers to the IHSAA State Finals, Jasper came away with its first boys sectional title since 2016 thanks to its depth.

“It just goes to show that you have to have a lot of swimmers and it takes a full team effort to win the sectional,” said Jasper head coach Kristin Gutgsell. “To know that we have that depth for the future shows us the future is very bright for this team. It was a dogfight all day like I knew it was going to be, I’m just relieved we were able to finish it strong.”

Jasper took home the sectional trophy with 387.5 points, defeating second place Bedford North Lawrence by a narrow margin as the Stars finished with 378 points.

Heritage Hills placed third with 337 points and will send five total swimmers to State, Northeast Dubois placed sixth with 134 points, Southridge placed seventh with 123 points and Forest Park was tied for 11th with 33 points.

Depth was one of the biggest keys for the Wildcats en route to their sectional title. In the eight individual swimming events, Jasper had at least two swimmers in each of the final heats.

“I’m the worst captain ever because this whole season, I was like ‘There’s no way that we can win sectional’,” joked senior Raife Milligan, who placed 4th in the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle and was also a member of the 400 freestyle relay team that placed second, sealing Jasper’s sectional title.

Fellow senior Andrew King added: “We might not have gotten a first place but we got the seconds, the thirds and the fourth (places). It’s really cool knowing that we all worked really hard to make sure we had a chance to win sectional.”

Several of the highest finishers for the Wildcats were Connor Nolan (2nd, 200 individual medley), Abe Eckman (3rd, 500 freestyle) and Evan Mehringer (5th, 100 backstroke). A similarity with all three of those swimmers? They’re all freshmen.

Heritage Hills' Ethan Roos competes in the 100-yard breaststroke during Saturday's boys swimming and diving sectional championship at the Jasper High School Natatorium. After a long year of battling to get back in the pool and swim with his team, the junior Patriot swimmer advanced to the IHSAA State Finals with Gavin Fuchs, Josh Halvorson and Noah Collignon in the 200 freestyle relay. Fuchs also advanced individually in the 100 butterfly while Dominic Williams advanced individually in the 100 breaststroke. For more photos from the sectional meet, click here.

Another local team that had a very solid day at the boys swimming sectional was Heritage Hills. The Patriots placed third overall with 337 points and had three state qualifiers — Gavin Fuchs in the 100 butterfly (53.64), Dominic Williams in the 100 breaststroke (1:02.09) and the 200 freestyle relay team of Fuchs, Joshua Halvorson, Noah Collignon and Ethan Roos (1:33.35).

It’s been a long battle for Roos to get back in the pool. After battling an autoimmune disease for the past year, the junior swimmer was able to get back into the pool thanks to the support from his team and now finds himself as a member of a state advancing relay team.

“To be able to just come backa fter all that and still drop all these PR’s and great times, it’s amazing,” Roos said. “To be able to go to state with the guys that I’ve been with my entire life and entire swim career, it’s fantastic.”

Both Fuchs and Williams credit the team’s determination and willpower on sending five total swimmers to the state finals.

“I feel like we’ve been working hard and just always getting after it,” Williams said. “We’ve had great determination.”

Fuchs added: “We kind of had a rocky start to the season but once we started to get closer to the PAC meet and sectional, things started to fall in line and we knew we had a shot at this.”

Northeast Dubois' Pierce Brinkman competes in the 200-yard individual medley during Saturday's boys swimming and diving sectional championship at the Jasper High School Natatorium. Brinkman placed eighth in the event. For more photos from the sectional meet, click here.

Northeast Dubois placed sixth overall at Saturday’s meet with a score of 134 points.

The Jeeps advanced all their relays to the finals and also had two individuals place in the final heats — Colby Stafford placed 7th in the 50 freestyle (24.85) and Pierce Brinkman finished 8th in the 200 individual medley (2:43.70).

But what excites head coach Kendra Friedman the most is that the Jeeps will bring back all nine swimmers next season.

“We’re really looking forward to what the future holds for these boys because they’re hard workers, they have a great work ethic and they want to win,” Friedman said.

The Southridge boys swimming team placed seventh overall with 123 total points.

The Raiders had a few solid finishes including a fifth place finish from the 200 medley relay team of Owen Roy, Leyton Lauderdale, Alex Biehl and Adam Jochem (1:58.12) as well as a sixth place finish from Lauderdale in the 100 breaststroke (1:12.11).

Southridge's Adam Jochem shows the lap number to Alex Biehl while he competes in the 500-yard freestyle during Saturday's boys swimming and diving sectional championship at the Jasper High School Natatorium. For more photos from the sectional meet, click here.

“I felt like our team did a really good job, they all cut time in their events and that’s all I can ask of them,” said Southridge head coach Amy Kaetzel. “They went out and gave it all they had.”

Forest Park finished tied for 11th as they once again had a rather small group at the sectional tournament.

Ben Kluesner placed in the top eight in two events — he took home a 4th place finish in the 100 backstroke (1:02.07) and a 7th place finish in the 100 butterfly (1:02.16).


Jasper's Alexander Ramirez, front and Forest Park's Benjamin Kluesner compete in the 100-yard butterfly during Saturday's boys swimming and diving sectional championship at the Jasper High School Natatorium. Kluesner placed 7th while Ramirez placed 8th. For more photos from the sectional meet, click here.

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