Sign of things to come?
Sectional swim times aren’t always a precursor of what will happen at the state meet.
“One can look at the sectional results of the other schools compared to where we stand, analyze whether or not the other teams have hit taper,” Champaign Central coach Ben Trupin said. “Doing all of those things can be a legitimate way to approach the state meet, but there are so many factors out of our control that it is somewhat moot to look at them.
“One cannot control how fast another team will swim and we always stress upon the athletes: ‘Control what you can control: yourselves.’ They have to control their mental game, stay focused on going fast, and swim smart. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.”
It will start unfolding at 3:30 p.m. Friday when the semifinals begin.
Central is one of five area schools that will be represented. Centennial, Danville, Sullivan and Urbana also have state-meet competitors.
Trupin believes the best is yet to come for the Maroons.
“Central swimmers have a habit of dropping more time at state which is probably caused by a couple of factors,” he said. “There is the big ‘wow factor’ of being at a big meet and our athletes respond positively to that. Another factor is the training these guys have gone through. They are in tremendous physical and mental shape.”
Three Central swimmers — Evan Miller, Garrett Barnard and Payton Woods — are on both of the qualifying relays.
“Both relays were constructed by the coaches with one common goal: go as fast as they can,” Trupin said. “The medley relay is fun because it showcases the diversity of our team’s strength while the 200 freestyle relay highlights our athletes’ pure sprinting ability.”
Senior Jon Delzell lost about three weeks of training time this season while dealing with a shoulder injury and the death of his father.
Still, he was able to advance to state in both the 50- and 100-yard freestyle races.
Viking coach Carl Long believes it’s possible that Delzell’s school-record time in the 50 free (21.79), set last weekend, can be reduced even more.
“We were on a taper, but not a full taper,” Long said. “We’ll make sure he’s fresh this week.”
The time Delzell broke had been set 35 years ago.
To make the finals in the sprint race, Long said everything has to go right. That holds true for all of the competitors.
“There’s not much margin for error in the 50,” he said.
Chargers hitting their peak
On paper, Centennial’s 400 freestyle relay team didn’t have the look of a state-meet qualifier. The Chargers’ seed time was 3:41.52. The No. 1 seed came in at 3:27.
Coach Jason Maddux and his swimmers were undaunted.
“Our plan going into sectionals was to stack our 400 free relay and try and get a team through to the state meet,” Maddux said. “We knew we had the personnel on that relay that could compete with the No. 1 seed. My guys were psyched all week for that swim and everyone dropped big to secure the win.”
The first-place foursome of Heath Rogers, Evan Peirce, Logan Starks, Scott Wierschem stopped the clock in 3:24.13, nearly three seconds in front of runner-up Central.
Maddux is looking for a quicker time this week.
“Our plan for the state meet is to recreate the excitement we had at sectionals and hope to find a few more areas where we can drop time,” he said. “I think there is still room for improvement.”
Rogers also advanced in the 100 backstroke. His winning time (58.41) was less than a tenth of a second ahead of his closest pursuer.
“He had probably one of the best finishes I’ve seen all year,” Maddux said.
EIU recruit on a roll
Sullivan senior Brock Bales, who has signed a letter of intent to swim at Eastern Illinois University, advanced to state in the 100 backstroke and the 100 breaststroke with personal-best times.
“He accomplished these while fighting a chest cold and it was very tough for him to get good breaths,” Sullivan coach Jason Drury said. “I expect with some rest and getting over the cold to see even better performance.”
Sullivan doesn’t field a high school team until the postseason, so Bales competed through Illinois Swimming since March.
“Those were two- and three-day meets where he swam four to five events a day,” Drury said. “This level of competition has him prepared to handle swimming two of his best events at the IHSA state meet.
“He has been preparing for the last four years for a shot at state against the best around. He is in the best shape of his career and it is now down to the swim.”
Urbana diver Tony Petrotte is a senior who has played soccer four years. He joined the swimming and diving team this winter and is the Area Honor Roll diving leader. His sectional title last weekend earned him a berth among the 48 who will compete at state this weekend.