By Josh Sigler
The same story has been hashed out time and again over the last 26 years.
The Carmel High School girls swimming and diving team has cornered the hardware market over the last three decades, claiming every state title in the sport since 1987. Twenty seven of the 38 total team state title trophies given in the sport have gone in the Greyhounds’ trophy case.
Ranked No. 1 once again heading into the 2012-13 campaign’s postseason, Carmel is one of five teams in the Noblesville Sectional ranked in the top 35 of the latest Indiana High School Swim Coaches Association poll, followed by No. 14 Westfield, the host and No. 15-ranked Millers, No. 18 Western and No. 35 Maconaquah.
All four participating Howard County Schools will partake in sectional action tonight at Noblesville, where action will kick off at 5:30 p.m. The top eight individuals from tonight advance to the finals, while places nine through 16 advance to the consolation rounds. The finals and consolations are set for Saturday at 9 a.m.
“It’s a very tough sectional, but it’s good for our kids to see that level of competition,” Kokomo coach Donita Walters said. “Not many states have this level of competition, and we get to see it right away in the sectional. We sometimes get frustrated by it, but it’s still good for the kids to see it.”
Western heads into the sectional as the highest-ranked team in the area, and is equipped with the area’s current most accomplished swimmer in junior Summer Brown.
Brown enters the postseason with the third-fastest time in the state in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:50.88. She is the defending sectional champion in that event, where she went on to finish fifth in the state.
Brown also enters sectional waters holding the fifth-fastest time in the state in the 100 freestyle at :51.50, an event she placed third in during the sectional a season ago. Her time was good enough to make the state cut, and she wound up placing seventh at the state finals. She is seeking her third straight appearance in the state finals.
“I think Summer has an advantage going in this year,” Western coach Brad Bennett said. “It’s more comfortable for her in just the way everything lays out over the next couple days. She’s looking to be able to go down there, swim her times, make the state cuts and get in. That’s the No. 1 goal, to make it through to state. A sectional championship would be icing on the cake. She trains with this part of the season in mind all year long.
“The sectional is a big meet. Everyone else doesn’t like this — and me too — swimming against Carmel and Noblesville, but these are the same girls Summer swims against in state. So, she has an advantage over the rest of the state, because she’ll get a chance to see them before the state finals.”
Katie Brown added a 13th-place finish in the 200 individual medley in sectional action last season for Western.
Walters has a trio of swimmers in Alyson Rohlfing, Jessica Simmons and Jessica Gates who are hoping to advance to Saturday.
Rohlfing finished 10th last season in the 100 backstroke, and added a 13th-place showing in the 100 freestyle.
Gates finished 16th in the 500 freestyle a season ago, while Simmons is looking to be among the top 16 this time around in the 200 IM.
“We’ve been talking all week that it’s going to take absolute lifetime best [times],” Walters said. “You can’t hold back. You have to give 110 percent [tonight]. The girls look great and have responded well to the taper. We’re dealing with some sickness, some flu, so we may not swim at full strength and may have to alter some relays, but the girls who may fill in are stepping up. I’m pleased with the effort we’ve made to fill those holes.
“We’re excited to be part of that atmosphere. There is a lot of talent down there, so we’ll see what our ladies can do.”
Mid-Indiana Conference-champion Northwestern had its most success in the relay events a season ago.
The Tigers finished fourth in two relays last season. The foursome of Beth Wilson, Addie Roth, Ashton Martin and Savannah Gamester took fourth in the 200 medley relay, but lost Wilson to graduation.
The team of Martin, Mollee Mygrant, Karla Martinson and Britanny Jocius finished fourth in the 400 free relay, but lost Jocius to graduation.
Roth added an 11th-place finish in the in the 200 IM a season ago.
Audra Isaac is the top postseason performer back from a season ago for Eastern. She took 10th in the 50 free in sectional action, and added a 12th-place showing in the 100 butterfly.
The area also boasts two of the state’s best divers. Maconaquah’s Alex Vincent is ranked 18th in the latest IHSSCA poll. Vincent finished second in the sectional a season ago.
Tipton’s Tori Crail is the state’s 22nd-ranked diver. She took fourth in sectional action last season.