By KRIS MILLS – firstname.lastname@example.org
Coen Weiler is quietly running one of the top athletic programs at Shelbyville High School. With several pieces back on both varsity swim teams, Weiler again has high expectations for his girls and boys in a new campaign.
Ending the season at the IHSAA State Finals, like a group of girls did last season, is what Weiler and the Golden Bears are anticipating — on both sides this time. Weiler believes a new sectional alignment could help Shelbyville in accomplishing its ultimate goal. Regardless, Weiler knows each team has the talent needed to excel in the postseason.
But are the Golden Bears willing to put in the work? According to Weiler, who has a strong club program at the school, they already have.
“With how things are going in our program, this year we have spent a lot less time getting ready for the season,” Weiler said, who has 85 elementary and middle school students currently swimming with the Shelby County Aquatics Club (SCAC). “Things we would be doing in November, we are now doing in October.
“That is a credit to the overall development and focus (by the athletes). We don’t have to develop an athlete the first three weeks of the season. They are coming to us ready. Credit for that also goes to Royce Carlton for what he has done with the strength and condititoning program (at Shelbyville).”
After swimming in the North Central Sectional last season, SHS is set to compete in the New Palestine Sectional this season. After comparing times, Weiler believes the Golden Bears will have even more success at a less-competitive meet.
“Moving to the New Palestine Sectional changes the dynamics for how it is going to work for us,” Weiler said. “Our goal is to get two relays and two individuals between both teams to state.”
Returning to lead the SHS girls are seniors Mackenzie Endsley, Annie Chenoweth and Braelyn Stacy. Juniors Adelyn Parsley, Raven Bolden and Addi Weaver and sophomores Grace Lux, Marlee Rice, Karissa Hamilton and Abigail Amos also return with experience.
Chenoweth, Lux, Rice and Hamilton will compete in the 200-yard medley and 200 free relays together. Lux, Rice and Hamilton, with 2019 senior Elliana Hamilton, qualified for the state finals last season in the 200 medley relay.
Lux, who broke five school records as a freshman, is looking strong in a new season. At this time last year, she swan a 1:08.52 in the 100 breaststroke. About a month ago, Weiler said, Lux swam a 1:05 in the event at a club meet.
Last season, Lux was seeded 22nd (100 breast) entering Friday’s state prelims and managaed to move into the finals (top 16, two races) with a 13th-place finish. She won the consolation final and beat two swimmers (times) in the “A” final for the seventh fastest time (1:04.36) in the state.
During the first meet of the season last year, Lux topped E. Hamilton’s old record in the 100 breaststroke (1:08.52), which was a 1:11.72. She went on to break that mark seven times over the course of the season. Lux also has the 200 individual medley and 200 free records as an individual and helped set the program marks in the 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays with the Hamilton sisters and Rice.
“We are at a really good spot with Grace,” Weiler said. “Overall, her strength in general is different this year. She gives the team motivation to where they want to be up there with her.”
Rice, Chenoweth, Endsley and Hamilton have all started the season strong, as well.
“Annie, Karissa and Marlee are the three that will be on the relays with Grace,” Weiler said. “With Annie and Mackenzie, we have talked about them stepping into that leadership role. Karissa has looked really strong in the 50 free so far and Marlee had a heck of a summer. She is dropping time like crazy.
“A big goal for us this year on the girls side is going back to state,” Weiler continued. “Building off our success from last season, we want to continue that.”
Stacy, Parsley and freshman Maiah Helfer-Vazquez form a talented diving unit. Helfer-Vazquez had a standout junior high career, while Parsley recorded the top score among the three at the team’s meet against Whiteland on Nov. 26. Parsley recorded a 151.45 against the Warriors, while Helfer-Vazquez finished with a 145.60. Stacy totaled a 129.70.
“Parsley and Stacy are already well ahead of where they were last season at this point,” Weiler said. “And Hefler-Vazquez had a really good eighth grade season.”
Seniors Cameron Baker, Ethan Bohman, Jackson Browning, Michael Lay and Andrew Walke will lead an experienced Shelbyville boys’ swim team. Juniors Layne Carrell and Mitch Compton and sophomores Lance File, Tyler Harker, Caleb Cox and Michael Fox also return for the Golden Bears, who will be without 2019 senior Nick Amos. Amos was named Shelby News’ Boys Swimmer of the Year during his final high school season.
Weiler said the team’s 200 freestyle relay team would have won a sectional title at New Palestine the last five years. Now that his Golden Bears will actually compete at New Palestine once the posteason begins, Weiler is understandably excited to see what his team can do.
“We had been very respectable at North Central and Lawrence North, we just couldn’t find those winning times,” Weiler said. “Now we want to go to New Palestine, have a really good showing and get those boys to state.
“Our seniors also have high expectations and are going after some school records.”
Lay, Harker, Bohman and J. Browning will compete on the 200 and 400 free relays together.
Freshmen Walker Browning, Tristen Maloney, William Haessig and Trey Carrell will also have large roles on the team.
Baker will be Shelbyville’s only diver this season. Against Whiteland on Nov. 26, he finished first overall with a 201.25.
“After getting to the regional last year, Cameron is hungry to show he can do that again and go further,” Weiler said. “Then hopefully he can follow that up with a good performance at state.”
After a meet at Franklin Community on Tuesday, the Shelbyville swim teams return to the pool on Thursday at home against Columbus East.
Postseason action for the girls begins on Feb. 6. The boys will begin a few weeks later on Feb. 20.
Kris Mills is the Sports editor of The Shelbyville News. Follow Kris on Twitter @KrisMills37.