By KRIS MILLS – firstname.lastname@example.org
INDIANAPOLIS — Shelbyville head swim coach Coen Weiler made it clear.
“We belong here.”
On Thursday during prelims at the North Central Sectional, Coen delivered that message to his team. The result, for the first time in 10-plus seasons, was a Golden Bear swimming in every event Saturday during the finals.
With their confidence high, SHS proved it did belong among some of the best in the state. Despite its size, compared to larger programs like North Central and Warren Central, the Golden Bears held their own and advanced four individuals (two events) to state while finishing fifth overall with 216 points — two away from fourth and 31 away from third.
“I told them it did not matter the sizes of the schools, our times matter,” Weiler said. “Thursday night I thought we swam well, but this year our concentration was on Saturday. It paid off for us.”
North Central won the meet with 513 points in one of the best performances Weiler has ever seen at a sectional.
Shelbyville freshman Grace Lux, who said at the beginning of the season that she wanted to advance to state in the 100-yard breaststroke, achieved her goal after finishing second in the finals in 1:05.73. NC senior Ashley Glesing won the event in 1:05.63.
“Grace came in and has swam consistently well all season,” Weiler said. “She is growing in the breaststroke. Saturday was our go day. The North Central girl gave her a race. They swam really, really well. It was a big push for Grace.”
Lux will also win on the 200-yard medley relay team (third overall, 1:50.24 for new record) with Marlee RIce and Ellie and Karissa Hamilton at the state finals this weekend. Ellie is the lone senior among the group and has added leadership with three talented rookies.
“Since the beginning, they have been in the program and watched the boys have success last year,” Weiler said of the 200 medley team. “The freshmen have known the expectations since day one. With Ellie in that group, she has really gotten to see what it takes to be good from those in the past and now continues to make us better.”
Ellie also swam in the 50 free with her sister Karissa Saturday and in the 100 fly (sixth overall). Ellie finished eighth overall in the 50 free and Karissa was fifth. Karissa also competed in the 100 backstroke, finishing 12th.
The same foursome swam in the 200 free relay, finishing second overall.
SHS junior MacKenzie Endsley grabbed the final spot in the 100 free during prelims Thursday to solidify a spot in every race Saturday during finals for the Golden Bears, Weiler said. Endsley finished 16th in the 100 free final and was also 16th in the 100 backstroke.
“She worked her tail off,” Weiler said. “I think that swim really changed the mood. It kept us in the water Saturday and the girls were zoned in and excited.”
In the 200 free Saturday, junior Annie Chenoweth was 11th overall while Rice finished in 15th. Rice also swam in the 500 free, finishing in 14th. In the 200 IM, Lux was fourth and freshman Adeline Haacker came in 11th.
In the 400 free relay, sophomore Addisenn Weaver, Haacker, Endsley and Chenoweth came together to finish sixth overall, cutting eight seconds off their time for a new PR.
SHS also had three divers compete in the finals. Braelyn Stacy and Adelyn Parsley were eighth and ninth, respectively, while Sarah McQueary finished in 13th.
“We had three divers complete all 11 dives at a sectional this season,” Weiler said. “Overall, it was our confidence level from Thursday. It really helped, the girls saw we do belong.”
Kris Mills is the Sports editor of The Shelbyville News. Follow Kris on Twitter @KrisMills37.