Sectional leaderboard crowded with local flair

Photos by Brittney Lohmiller/The Herald
Jasper’s Lindsey Mehringer, left, and Forest Park’s Josie Berg congratulated each other after finishing the 200 yard freestyle during Saturday’s girls swimming sectional at Jasper. Mehringer won the race and Berg placed third while overall as a team, Jasper finished second and Forest Park finished seventh. For more photos from the meet, click here.


JASPER — Swimmers crowded the the deck and there was hardly any elbow room in the stands as swim teams gathered at Jasper High School Saturday afternoon to compete for the girls sectional crown.

Bedford North Lawrence took first place overall with 463 points. But the girls teams from Dubois County (and the one from Spencer) also recorded solid performances in the pool. Jasper finished second overall with 375 points, with Heritage Hills finishing just on the Wildcats’ heels with 373 to take third place. Southridge finished fifth with 176.5 points, Forest Park took seventh with 112 points, and Northeast Dubois finished in tenth place with 77 points.

Jasper coach Kristen Gutgsell, who took over as the Wildcats’ head coach this season and won Coach of the Year honors at Saturday’s sectional, said that Thursday’s preliminary races set the stage for the team’s performance on Saturday.

She knew dealing with Bedford’s depth would be a challenge, but she believes her girls did just about everything perfectly during the sectional meet.

“They did absolutely everything possible that they could,” she said. “We set ourselves up on Thursday night to get that (finish). We won seven out of the twelve events. For as young of a team that we have, the girls swam extremely well. It was phenomenal.”

Senior Lindsey Mehringer took the sectional crown in the 100 yard freestyle (54.23), 200 yard freestyle (1:58.26). Senior Kate Weaver finished third in the 200 yard individual medley (2.19.90). Junior Carmina Armstrong took top honors in the 50 yard freestyle (24.41) and 100 yard butterfly (58.14).

Senior Rhegann Weisheit finished second in the 500 yard freestyle (5.51.31). Junior Zoe Biggs also took first overall in the diving portion of the meet with 343.10 points.

Jasper also won the 200 yard freestyle relay, with Armstrong, Weaver, Mehringer, and freshman Leah Haas combining to go 1:43.01. Armstrong, Weaver, Mehringer, and Weisheit also took the sectional title in the 400 yard freestyle relay (3:42.53).

Heritage Hills coach Phil Bradley was filled with joy as he talked about how his girls had some of their best swims that he had seen from them all season. They gave all of their efforts and he’s sad that he has to say goodbye to his seniors that are graduating this year.

“It’s just incredible. I’ve never seen them swim this good,” he said. “I was so happy with them the entire weekend. They swam their hearts out and left it all out there, that’s all I can ever ask for.”

Heritage Hills’ freshman Rachel Martin, left, and senior Vicki Nelson hugged teammate senior Kennedy Helms, center, after she got first in her heat during the girls swimming sectional at Jasper on Saturday. For more photos from the meet, click here.

Senior Hannah Blake finished second in the 50 yard freestyle (25.87). She was also a part of the 200 yard freestyle relay team, along with fellow seniors Samantha Skelton, Vicki Nelson, and Jalynn Fortwendel. The relay team finished second with a time of 1:46.71. Heritage Hills finished third in the 400 yard freestyle relay (Skelton, Blake, Nelson, and Aubrey Ruxer) with a time of 3.58.27.

Southridge coach Amy Kaetzel was pleased with her team’s improvement from the prelims to the finals. She said they cut their times beautifully and is looking forward to her diver, sophomore Evie Sherer, moving on to regionals after tying with Pike Central’s Hallee Stephens for third place with 298.3 points.

“I felt really good with their performance today,” she said. “I’m ecstatic with Evie (Sherer) going to regionals on Tuesday. I felt like everybody was right where they needed to be and did a really good job.”

Senior Kera Jochem finished in third place with 100 yard backstroke (1:01.91). Jochem, along with seniors Molly Jochem, Cora Meyer, and sophomore Chaney Barrett, also took third in the 200 yard medley relay (2:06.05).

Forest Park coach Rachel Berg could not have been happier with her team’s performance, a team, which finished seventh of twelve teams with 112 points. Not too bad for a team that was in their first year together and consisted of just four girls.

“For four girls to get over 100 points is pretty spectacular. We’re thrilled,” said Berg. “We dropped time in everything, they looked good, and it’s just exciting to see the future.”

Sophomore Josie Berg took second in the 100 yard freestyle (56.46), and third place in the 200 yard freestyle (2:05.29).

For the Northeast Dubois girls, Lauren Lorey was the highest placing Jeep on Saturday as she came home fifth with a time of 1:21.22 in the 100 breaststroke. The relay team of Lorey, Haleigh Meny, Macie Brinkman and Emily Merkley placed seventh in the 200 freestyle relay and ninth in the 400 freestyle relay.

While most of the teams ended their season Saturday, the season continues for a couple of athletes. In addition to Sherer, Jasper will send Zoe Biggs to regionals for diving, and the Wildcats will also have representatives in the state meet: Armstrong will swim the 50 yard freestyle and 100 yard butterfly, and Mehringer will tackle the 100 and 200 yard freestyle. Jasper will also send relay teams to compete in the 200 and 400 yard freestyle relays.

“That’s pretty good to come out with winning seven out of 12 events,” said Gutgsell. “We had a great day.”

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