Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette After just missing out on qualifying for state a year ago, Concordia's Lauren Doerffler has been pushing herself this season.
Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Concordia swimmer Natalie Hazelet speaks with teammates in the pool during swimming practice at South Side Natatorium on Tuesday
Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Concordia swimmer Lauren Doerffler speaking with teammates in the pool during swimming practice at South Side Natatorium on Tuesday.
Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Concordia swimmer Natalie Hazelet during swimming practice at South Side Natatorium on Tuesday.
Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Concordia swimmer Lauren Doerffler doing laps in the pool during swimming practice at South Side Natatorium on Tuesday.
Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Concordia swimmer Natalie Hazelet doing laps in the pool during swimming practice at South Side Natatorium on Tuesday.
Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Concordia swimmer Lauren Doerffler during swimming practice at South Side Natatorium on Tuesday.
Friday, February 02, 2018 1:00 am
State on Cadets' radar
Confidence high after win over Snider
AUBREE REICHEL | The Journal Gazette
At a glance
IHSAA girls swimming and diving sectional championships
When: 9 a.m. Saturday
At Warsaw: Cass, Columbia City, Culver Academies, Huntington North, Logansport, Manchester, North Miami, Oregon-Davis, Pioneer, Plymouth, Rochester, Tippecanoe Valley, Wabash, Warsaw
At Northridge: Angola, Concord, DeKalb, East Noble, Elkhart Central, Elkhart Memorial, Fremont, Goshen, Northridge, NorthWood, Wawasee, Westview
At South Side: Carroll, Bishop Dwenger, Bishop Luers, Canterbury, Concordia, Northrop, North Side, Snider, South Side, Wayne, Homestead
At Jay County: Adams Central, Bellmont, Blackford, Bluffton, Delta, Jay County, Muncie Burris, Muncie Central, Norwell, South Adams, Union City, Winchester
The Concordia girls swim team recently dethroned Snider in the SAC. The Panthers had won 25 straight conference titles until Jan. 14 when the Cadets won 433-363.5 over their conference rivals.
Now the Cadets are fighting for a top-three finish in a sectional that includes Homestead, Carroll and Snider, among others, while, individually, Concordia is fighting to qualify as many swimmers as it can for state.
“The nice thing is it's the younger swimmers that are leading the team in points scored,” coach Bruce Graham said. “So the older ones are teaching them what they needed to do. The younger ones are hard workers but they're seeing the other work paying off.
“(The older swimmers are) hard workers, they keep everyone together, make sure everyone clicks together, hangs out a little bit.”
This year, Sean Gibson took over the boys program and made adjustments in dry-land training. Gibson's employment at Concordia made the weight room and other amenities easier to access.
The entire team also made strides in regard to camaraderie. Junior Natalie Hazelet said it has been the biggest difference this year.
“I think (it's) just everyone's combined effort in trying hard and hitting goals earlier in the season, making team goals and trying to pull through with them and trying to make them as we go along,” Hazelet said. “First, we wanted to get closer as a team. The closer we get, the more we're invested in people and we'll cheer for them. Then we really wanted to make it in the top two for SAC. We got first, which was a really big high for us.
“Now we're hoping to get in the top three because Carroll and Homestead are so much bigger than us. We're still hoping to pull through with everyone swimming good times and have people make it to state.”
Hazelet won the 100-yard backstroke at the SAC meet after finishing fourth in the event at last year's sectional. She also finished fourth in the 100 butterfly in last year's sectional.
Teammate Lauren Doerffler was fractions of a second away from qualifying in the 100 breaststroke after placing second at last year's sectional. Maddie Gleave advanced to the diving regional last season where she finished 10th after finishing fourth at the sectional.
“Last year, going in, I was a freshman so I didn't know what to expect,” Doeffler said, “and I didn't know how close I was to state. So this year, during practices when we work specifically on breaststroke, I'll motivate myself and be like, 'I was this close last year.'”
Gibson brought a group from Concordia to Indianapolis for last year's state meet, a trip that provided valuable insight as to what the high-pressure atmosphere is like.
“I did club my eighth-grade year and made it to state that year,” Doerffler said. “The high school version versus the club is so different. It motivated us to work hard for practice and hopefully make it.”
Since the win at SAC, the Cadets have stepped up their energy in training in preparation for this week's sectional.
“They're a little more motivated, they're working harder on things they need to do, they're making those little changes we've worked on all year and they're getting consistent,” Graham said. “The SAC was definitely a motivation to push it to that next level.”