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  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Carroll's Mallory Jackson is seeded second in the 100 backstroke and fourth in the 200 individual medley, and the 200 freestyle and 400 free relay teams are seeded second and third for the state finals.

Friday, February 09, 2018 1:00 am

Surprises at right time

Big-meet energy can lead to some best-ever times

AUBREE REICHEL | The Journal Gazette

At a glance

IHSAA girls swimming and diving state finals

When: 6 p.m. today; 9 a.m. (diving), 1 p.m. (finals) Saturday

Where: IU Natatorium, IUPUI, Indianapolis

Webstream: Championships, consolations at

Area participants

200-yard medley relay: Warsaw, Carroll, Homestead

200 freestyle: Gretchen Kraus, Carroll; Mya VanderHagen, Carroll; Audrey Crowel, Homestead

200 individual medley: Alyssa Cyrus, Norwell; Veronica Lantz, Carroll; Mallory Jackson, Carroll

50 free: Teagen Moon, Carroll; Avery Brooks, Carroll

100 butterfly: Alexandria Aschliman, Huntington North; Mya VanderHagen, Carroll; Teagen Moon, Carroll; Audrey Crowel, Homestead

100 free: Ashley LeFever, South Adams; Avery Brooks, Carroll; Maggie Stock, Homestead

500 free: Lily Kaiser, Homestead; Gretchen Kraus, Carroll

200 free relay: Carroll, Homestead, Warsaw

100 backstroke: Alyssa Cyrus, Norwell; Grace Hanna, Carroll; Mallory Jackson, Carroll

100 breaststroke: Delaney Wihebrink, Warsaw; Laura Wright, Bishop Dwenger

400 free relay: Norwell, Carroll, Homestead

While many of the girls swimming and diving state qualifiers have performed in big meets at the club level, the high school season provides a different atmosphere.

This requires an adjustment period for many underclassmen in a variety of ways but, as evidenced by Saturday's sectional, it can produce unpredictable results in a good way.

“I definitely did not expect to do what I did,” Homestead freshman Audrey Crowel said. “I thought I did pretty good, and I was very happy with that.”

She said there is a lot of pressure in the big meets during the high school season. But she acknowledges the positive aspects, too.

“They have a lot more spirit,” Crowel said. “It's a lot more upbeat and a lot more fun. I didn't expect to be this nervous, but as soon as I got behind the block and everyone was cheering, I relaxed and it was great.”

Crowel is seeded seventh in the 200-yard freestyle and eighth in the 100 butterfly heading into this weekend's state meet. Teammate Maggie Stock, also a freshman, is seeded fourth in the 100 free, and the 400 free relay is also seeded sixth.

“At this point, I'm not one to second-guess anything,” Spartans coach Justin Max said about the idea that ignorance was bliss. “I guess not knowing they're supposed to be this fast, yet, and not knowing any better ... worked for (sectionals).”

The most experience the Spartans return is with all-state divers juniors Jackie Brenn (second at last year's state meet) and Mallory Walker (fifth) and senior Kayla Luarde (eighth).

“For us to be the kind of team we want to be we have to extend that into next week,” Max said. “There's still a lot of work left to do down in Indy. Last year, we were 11th as a team. We'd definitely like to be higher than that this year.”

While Homestead won the team title at South Side, its first since 2014, Carroll wasn't far behind.

Chargers sophomore Mallory Jackson is seeded second in the 100 back and fourth in the 200 individual medley, and the 200 free and 400 free relay teams are seeded second and third.

The Chargers took a young squad to state last year, when they finished seventh.

“But they're all pretty seasoned,” coach John Gibson said. “We have two freshmen, but one of them has done some pretty big meets, the other is the least experienced. We only had two senior girls the whole year anyway and only one of them actually swam at sectional.”

For Gibson, the biggest change to having a younger group of swimmers is adjusting training, resting and tapering for each athlete.

“It takes a couple years to get tapering individualized,” Gibson said. “When they're freshmen, sophomores, both the swimmer and the coach are learning what the individual needs to peak. We're both kind of learning about each other. It's probably more impact there.”

He said Jackson is a perfect example.

“(She) is in a good spot,” Gibson said. “She was a freshman last year and is one of those again where the coach and swimmer are learning what it takes to be in the right physical place. We didn't have it figured out last year. ... We trained some things differently (this year). We're definitely trying to rest more this week than we did last year.”

Norwell sophomore Alyssa Cyrus also qualified as a freshman, and South Adams junior Ashley LeFever competed on a relay as a freshman and as an individual last year.

“I think she's just more confident. Going in as a freshman is pretty intimidating,” Norwell coach Tanner Lesh said of Cyrus. “I think Alyssa just going last year inspired the entire team.”