Progress in pool earmark of sectional

Dave Weatherwax/The Herald
Northeast Dubois’ Lucas Schulthies celebrated after winning the 50-yard freestyle during Saturday’s boys swimming sectional at the Jasper High School Natatorium. Schulthies advanced to the state finals for the second consecutive year, joining Jasper’s Cole Erny (500 freestyle) and Mitch Mehringer (100 breaststroke) as the three locals to qualify for state. Bedford North Lawrence finished first as Jasper placed second, Northeast Dubois finished fifth, Heritage Hills came in seventh and Southridge placed eighth.. For a gallery of photos, click here.

Herald Sports Writer

JASPER — Jenae Gill channeled her inner Carlton Fisk.

The Jasper swimming coach couldn’t stand still while Cole Erny continually pulled away to win the 500-yard freestyle in Saturday’s boys swimming sectional at the Jasper High School Natatorium.

Gill whooped and hollered. She ran back and forth along the pool deck. Once or twice, it seemed like she was dancing in place.

She also waved her arms to the left and right, occasionally mimicking the baseball Hall-of-Famer who famously waved his arms to the right after hitting a game-tying home run in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series.

Gill also screamed encouragement, allowing her voice to be heard among the throng of cheering.

Erny, who helped Jasper (323 points) finish second behind team champion Bedford North Lawrence (506), has told Gill more than once he can’t hear her. That doesn’t matter. The Wildcat coach noted her arm movements are one way the swimmers can stay on pace during such a long race, but there’s much more to her exuberant act.

“I just get so darn excited,” Gill said, nearly bursting with laughter. “I can’t stand there on that 500 with a stopwatch, I have to go for a walk and so I walk up and down the pool deck. I think it gets some of my nerves out. Even though he can’t see me, I think in the back of my head, ”˜Oh, he can see me and knows what I’m doing.’”

Vincennes Lincoln (311) finished third, as Pike Central (251) and Northeast Dubois (176) rounded out the top five. Heritage Hills (140) placed seventh and Southridge (92) finished eighth.

Erny (5:06.54) won the 500 comfortably, finishing nearly 12 seconds ahead of his closest competitor. Teammate Mitch Mehringer was the other Wildcat to qualify for the state finals, as he won the 100 breaststroke (1:03.03), finishing 11-hundredths of a second behind the school record.

“I’m pumped for state,” Mehringer said. “That’s one of the big things I wanted to do this year is break our 100 breaststroke record, so that’s what I’m looking forward to at state.”

“Both of those boys are extremely hard workers,” Gill added of Erny and Mehringer, who each qualified as an individual for the first time after advancing as part of a relay last year. “They’ve been motivated all season, they knew what they wanted to do coming into this meet, so the results for both of them, they’re very satisfying.”

Aaron Embree of Bedford North Lawrence won the diving competition, though Jasper’s Austin Young, Luke Hoffman and Harry Seng claimed the next three spots, a feat that Gill called “amazing.” That Wildcat trio will compete in Tuesday’s regional at Bloomington North.

Jasper also finished runner-up in both the 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays. Erny and Mehringer teamed with Ben Nolan and Alec Vennekotter in both races.

“While we still got second place, there’s definitely nothing for them to be ashamed about,” Gill said. “It was a great meet.”

Jasper’s Mitch Mehringer surfaced after a turn in his second-place showing in the 200-yard individual medley. Mehringer, who also won the 100 breaststroke, advanced to the state finals individually for the first time after qualifying as part of a relay last season.

Northeast Dubois’ Lucas Schulthies will make a return trip to state, as the Jeep senior won the 50 freestyle for the second straight year. Schulthies finished in 22.10, edging Thomas Steele of Vincennes Lincoln by two-hundredths of a second.

“It was just as nerve-wracking as it was last year,” said Schulthies, who won by 0.44 seconds last year.

Schulthies added a runner-up finish in the 100 free (49.71), breaking his own school record. Jared Allen of Bedford North Lawrence broke the sectional record in 47.01.

“To come in second behind that is a good feeling,” Schulthies said. “I broke my school record, my record from last year, so I was happy with that, as well.”

“I’m happy with our team,” Schulthies continued. “A lot of freshmen on a young team and they came out and they really performed in their first sectional ever, even though they didn’t know anything about swimming coming in. They’ve all improved tremendously so I’m just happy with the whole team aspect.”

“I’m just very proud of how well they did,” Northeast Dubois coach Jennifer Wright added. “A fifth-place (finish) for our 11-guy team is wonderful.”

The Raiders and Patriots didn’t have anybody advance, though coaches for both squads saw promising signs.

“Everybody rose to the occasion,” Southridge coach Dick Taylor said. “Anytime you see that, you have to be happy as a coach, and I am.”

Landon Boehm, who Taylor said “swam out of his mind,” finished ninth in the 500 freestyle for the highest individual showing for the Raiders and also added a 10th-place finish in the 200 freestyle.
For Heritage Hills, Drew McCutchan finished fourth in the 200 free and 500 free.

“They’re all pretty young,” said Heritage Hills coach Phil Bradley, whose team loses just one senior. “We definitely have a lot of room to improve and the best thing is the guys feel like they want to improve. That’s the best part, is they’re seeing there is room to improve. … We’re in a good spot.”
Bradley’s colleagues shared that sentiment.

Taylor expressed excitement on a day when he said nearly every Raider earned a career-best time, and Gill said she heard three Wildcats say they couldn’t wait for next season.

Literally everybody was upbeat after competition wound down, as coaches and swimmers gave the impression they couldn’t wait to get back into the pool.

“Hearing them excited and motivated, as a coach is the best thing,” Gill said. “So we’re excited for what’s to come.”

Contact John Patishnock at

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