By GREG MENGELT
FLOYDS KNOBS —
After close calls in each of the past three seasons, the host Highlanders scored 453 points and cruised to their seventh consecutive Floyd Central Sectional championship on Saturday.
The Highlanders won six of the 12 events, including two of the three relays, to beat runner-up Jeffersonville 71 points.
“We’re really excited about the seven in a row,” Floyd junior Meg Taylor said. “It was definitely a hard-fought battle again. We all train hard and it’s always a close meet and it’s exciting. We’re all happy that our work paid off this year.”
“It shows that Floyd Central is a very strong team,” said senior Amy McCormick, whose senior class is the fourth straight at Floyd to win a sectional title all four years. “We work very, very hard and we work well as a team. Our work has paid off.”
Taylor was the star of the meet, winning two individual titles and swimming on both sectional championship relay teams. She won the first individual event of the day, holding off teammate Amy McCormick in the 200-yard freestyle in a Highland Hills Middle School pool-record 1:55.18. Taylor then crushed the 200 freestyle field by winning the event in a blazing 53.18.
She closed her day by teaming with Maryn Meldrum, Jessica Ingram and McCormick to win the 200 freestyle relay, and with Meldrum, McCormick and Layah Jones to win the 400 free relay.
“It was a great day,” Taylor said. “I’m really excited.”
“She’s had an fantastic year,” Perkins said of Taylor.
For the past two years, McCormick had the tough task of swimming against Taylor in both individual events. This year, Taylor switched from the 500 freestyle to the 100 free, opening the door for McCormick to win the 500 free. She took advantage of the opportunity to win her first sectional title.
“It’s a feeling of bliss,” McCormick said. “I’ve worked so hard for this for four years. My work has finally paid off and I’m very happy.”
“I was so happy for Amy,” Taylor said. “She works so hard. I’m happy that her work paid off.”
McCormick beat runner-up Amber Leininger of Jeffersonville by 12 seconds in a sectional-record time of 5:10.05.
“I was very surprised when I broke it,” McCormick admitted.
“That was a very, very good swim for her,” Perkins said. “Her day today as a senior ... no better way to go out.”
Floyd’s other winner on Saturday was junior Maryn Meldrum. Meldrum defended her 100 breaststroke title in 1:08.80, easily besting teammate Lauren Batliner for the repeat.
“No matter how many times you swim, those nerves still come,” Meldrum said. “You have to work just as hard as the year before. Nothing was promised. Yeah, I won last year, but you never know. It felt just as good this year as winning last year.”
“She’s very solid in that event,” Perkins said of Meldrum. “She’s a tough kid.”
Jeffersonville lost by just seven to the Highlanders in the Hoosier Hills Conference meet and figured to have an outside chance to upset the Highlanders and win its first sectional since 2006. However, Red Devil coach Keith Gast saw his team’s chances go away when he had to expel a pair of swimmers just over a week ago. Still, Jeff had its best finish since 2008.
“It was a great day overall,” Gast said. “Second place is the best we’ve had in years. The girls have had to handle some adversity late in the season and they came out firing today.”
The Devils opened the competition with a victory in the 200 medley relay. The team of Elizabeth Browne, Sam Glover, Kali Crace and Jacqueline Richard held off Seymour by .29 seconds to qualify for the state meet.
“We started the day winning the 200 medley relay, punching our ticket to state for our girls. That’s always big. That’s always the goal, to get kids to the next level,” Gast said. “It was pretty emotional. I knew Seymour would be tough. It was nerve-wracking. It was a close race. But that’s what makes athletics fun.”
Outside of Taylor, the star of the day was New Albany’s Reagan Thom. The sophomore won the first two sectional championships of her career. She easily won the 200 individual medley in 2:11.03 and later took the 100 butterfly title in 57.49, just ahead of Meldrum.
“It felt really good,” Thom said of the dual crowns. “I’ve been working really hard for this. I’ve set goals and I’m glad I could accomplish them.”
The Bulldogs had finished in the top two in the team competition the last four years, including a tie with Floyd and Seymour for the 2011 sectional title. New Albany finished fifth on Saturday after losing the bulk of its talent following last season. However, New Albany got strong performances from Thom and Alexis Lete, who finished third in the 50 free.
“Losing all of our seniors was really hard,” Thom said, “so I wanted to make sure that individually I could score well and represent New Albany.”
Seymour finished third overall and will be represented at the state meet by Alex Hawkins, who edged North Harrison’s Bailey Seitz for the 100 backstroke title. Earlier in the day, Seitz earned a state berth by beating Seymour’s Sidney Stout by .06 in the 50 freestyle. North Harrison was sixth overall. Jennings County finished fourth as a team and had the diving champion in Katelyn Posey.
Posey will be joined by Jeffersonville’s Lauren Kessinger and Floyd Central’s Sydney Baumann at Tuesday’s Bloomington North Diving Regional.
Silver Creek finished 12th overall, led by Kaitlin Sullivan’s 11th place in the 200 IM. The Dragons’ 400 free relay team also finished 11th. Providence came in 13th as a team. The Pioneers’ top finish was a 12th from its 400 free relay team.
FLOYD CENTRAL SECTIONAL
At Highland Hills Middle School
Team scores: Floyd Central 453, Jeffersonville 382, Seymour 335, Jennings County 238, New Albany 150, North Harrison 133, Madison 124, Southwestern 101, Salem 99, Scottsburg 97, Corydon Central 60, Silver Creek 32, Providence 26, Switzerland County 22.
200 medley relay: 1. Jeffersonville (Elizabeth Browne, Sam Glover, Kali Crace, Jacqueline Richard) 1:54.04, 2. Seymour 1:54.33, 3. Floyd Central 1:58.03, 4. New Albany 1:59.77, 12. Silver Creek 2:32.45, 13. Providence 2:45.01.
200 freestyle: 1. Meg Taylor (F) 1:55.18, 2. Amy McCormick (F) 1:56.99, 3. Amelia Blankenbeker (J) 2:01.18, 4. Amber Leininger (J) 2:02.40, 7. Alex Jamison (F) 2:08.05, 16. Ramey Satterly (NA) 2:19.56.
200 individual medley: 1. Reagan Thom (NA) 2:11.03, 2. Layah Jones (F) 2:15.49, 3. Adeline Dixon (J) 2:17.13, 5. Glover (J) 2:21.87, 8. Kelsey Pinnick (F) 2:29.50, 11. Kaitlin Sullivan (SC) 2:39.78, 12. Gracie Horvath (F) 2:40.04, 14. Olivia Lopez (J) 2:46.39.
50 free: 1. Bailey Seitz (NH) 25.01, 2. Sidney Stout (Sey) 25.07, 3. Alexis Lete (NA) 25.17, 4. Richard (J) 25.34, 5. Jessica Ingram (F) 25.82, 7. Browne (J) 26.00, 12. Jessica Pinnick (F) 27.44, 13. Jasmine Pate (J) 28.03, 16. Mayme Didelot (F) 29.26.
1-meter diving: 1. Katelyn Posey (JC) 406.05, 2. Lauren Kessinger (J) 387.95, 4. Sydney Baumann (F) 339.05, 5. Emma Reas (NA) 299.25, 7. Erica Romans (J) 265.15, 8. Caitlin Davenport (F) 259.30, 9. Katrina Klingsmith (F) 201.10.
100 butterfly: 1. Thom (NA) 57.49, 2. Maryn Meldrum (F) 59.99, 3. Crace (J) 1:03.07, 5. Yanna Martin (J) 1:04.07, 7. Lauren Batliner (F) 1:07.24, 9. Caitlin Davenport (F) 1:09.83, 14. Emma Bauer (NA) 1:12.27.
100 free: 1. Taylor (F) 53.18, 2. Stout (Sey) 55.38, 3. Richard (J) 55.67, 5. Browne (J) 56.18, 7. Ingram (F) 57.01, 9. Lete (NA) 56.54, 13. Anna Lowney (F) 1:01.18.
500 free: 1. McCormick (F) 5:10.50, 2. Leininger (J) 5:22.21, 3. Blankenbeker (J) 5:32.92, 7. K. Pinnick (F) 5:49.47, 8. Jamison (F) 5:49.58, 13. Satterly (NA) 6:10.32, 14. Bailey Joiner (J) 6:11.77.
200 free relay: 1. Floyd Central (Meldrum, Ingram, McCormick, Taylor) 1:40.21, 2. Seymour 1:42.18, 3. Jeffersonville 1:45.64, 11. Silver Creek 2:13.41, 13. Providence 2:25.20.
100 backstroke: 1. Alex Hawkins (Sey) 1:00.90, 2. Seitz (NH) 1:01.95, 3. Jones (F) 1:02.31, 4. Crace (J) 1:03.70, 7. Lowney (F) 1:06.74, 8. J. Pinnick (F) 1:07.95, 13. Sullivan (SC) 1:11.13, 14. Reas (NA) 1:13.40.
100 breaststroke: 1. Meldrum (F) 1:08.80, 2. Batliner (F) 1:11.05, 3. Glover (J) 1:011.06, 7. Martin (J) 1:16.07, 8. Klingsmith (F) 1:19.86.
400 free relay: 1. Floyd Central (Taylor, Jones, Meldrum, McCormick) 3:39.85, 2. Jeffersonville 3:43.60, 4. New Albany 4:02.15, 12. Providence 5:45.67.
Note: Sectional champion advances to Friday’s state finals at IUPUI Natatorium in Indianapolis; top four divers advance to Tuesday’s Bloomington North Regional.