Pats power their way to first sectional crown

Photos by Sarah Ann Jump/The Herald
Heritage Hills’ Sam Pinckert kissed the sectional trophy as the team celebrated winning their first boys swimming sectional in school history at Jasper on Saturday. The Patriots battled with Bedford North Lawrence throughout the day but sealed their crown with a victory in the 400 freestyle relay, the final event of the day. For more photos from the meet, click here.


JASPER — There’s a plethora of ways you could celebrate winning your school’s first boys swimming and diving sectional championship, but the way Heritage Hills head coach Phil Bradley celebrated? Let’s just say it was a splash.

As the Patriot swimmers were celebrating in the pool following the announcement of final scores and their championship-deciding victory in the 400 freestyle relay to close the meet, Bradley made sure to join in on the fun as he dove into the water in jeans and all to commemorate a victory that was a long time coming.

“I’ve been waiting to do that for a long time,” said Bradley with a laugh, following the plunge. “It’s such a cool experience just to know that these guys could do something like this, I’m so blessed to be the coach of these guys.”

The Patriots and Bedford North Lawrence battled throughout the day with neither team gaining much of an advantage over one another. Heritage Hills finished with 432 points to take home the trophy, while Bedford North Lawrence was second with 410 points. Jasper came home fourth with 283 points, Northeast Dubois was eighth with 80 points, Southridge was ninth with 68 points and Forest Park finished in 11th with 14 points.

The Pats clinched their first sectional title with the 400 freestyle relay team of Sam Martin, Gavin Fuchs, Andrew Sadler and Sam Pinckert taking home first place in the final event on the day with a time of 3:15.47.

“It pretty much came down to who wanted it the most and I’m glad that we came with that intensity in the final race,” Sadler said.

Martin added, “It’s always a good feeling to see how excited Coach (Bradley) is after something like that. Getting a hug from him is a pretty rare experience but he gave plenty of those today.”

In addition to the 400 freestyle relay team advancing to state, Fuchs placed first in the 500 freestyle to qualify for state individually while diver Austin Schnuck will head to Bloomington North to compete in the IHSAA diving regional tournament after placing second on Saturday.

Jasper will send two individual swimmers to the IHSAA state finals at the IUPUI Natatorium in Indianapolis — Max Henke was victorious in the 200 individual medley with a time of 2:00.07 and Jason Fleck broke his own school record in the 100 butterfly with a time of 51.88 to move on to the state finals this weekend.

Henke nearly qualified in a second event, but lost to Fuchs of Heritage Hills by .4 seconds in the 500 freestyle.

“We had just moved Max into the 500 at the end of the season and we thought that would be his best chance to win an event,” Wildcat head coach Kristin Gutgsell said. “The guys really swam amazing today, we just got beat by a little bit faster teams. I know the guys were a little disappointed they didn’t get as many wins as we hoped for but we can’t really hang our heads because they did everything they could.”

Jasper’s Jason Fleck advanced to the state finals after winning the 100 butterfly with a school record time of 51.88. His teammate Max Henke also qualified for state. For more photos from the meet, click here.

Jasper was also nearly victorious in the final event of the day in the 400 freestyle relay as they broke a school record with a time of 3:16.31 but just couldn’t quite catch the Heritage Hills team. Both the Patriots and Wildcats set sectional records for their 400 freestyle relay times.

The Northeast Dubois swim team finished eighth overall with their best finishes coming from the 400 freestyle relay team of Trenton Harrison, Cole Tretter, Colby Stafford and Alex Bauer that placed seventh with a time of 3:59.05. The team of Harrison, Stafford, Bauer and Carter Beckman also placed eighth in the 200 medley relay with a time of 2:04.78.

Jeep head coach Kendra Friedman said she was impressed with the improvement the boys showed as the season progressed and is also excited for the future as her middle school swim team jumped from just 17 kids to 35 this season as Northeast Dubois looks to expand to more events.

“We’re a small school, we don’t have a lot of athletes, so a lot of our guys are first-year swimmers and we really have to build them up,” Friedman said. “From the beginning of the year, I was a little skeptical about how we’d do but they just blew me away, they crushed their personal records and swam great.”

The Southridge swim team placed ninth overall with best swims coming from the 200 medley relay team of Alex Biehl, Logan Hunter, Owen Roy and Logan Welp that placed seventh with a time of 2:02.93. The same team also placed seventh in the 200 freestyle relay with a time of 1:47.69 and Logan Welp placed tenth overall in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:15.58.

Raider head coach Amy Kaetzel said the team struggled to place high at meets due to the low number of swimmers, but she enjoyed seeing the effort the boys put forth throughout the season.

“With only four swimmers, we were a little challenged with making points at meets, but they were really fun to work with,” Kaetzel said. “They all cut times this weekend too, so I was very happy with that.”

Forest Park finished 11th overall and, as has been the case all season, competed with just one male swimmer.
Freshman Ben Kluesner placed fifth in the 100 backstroke with a time of 1:03.87. Ranger head coach Rachel Berg knows it’s been tough for Kluesner working by himself this season, but she’s proud of all he’s accomplished as a freshman.

“It is hard being a one-man team, but he dropped time (Saturday) and it was his best personal time in that event. I’ve been really proud with how he’s worked over these past couple of weeks,” Berg said. “We’re thrilled with his time and we look forward to the future and hopefully we can recruit a few teammates for him. We’re hoping the success of both the boys and girls team will give us a bigger team next year and it’s already looking hopeful with our junior high team growing.”

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