It has been 10 years since a Jeffersonville boys’ swimmer stood on top of the podium at the state finals.
Red Devil legend Ben Hesen won four individual state titles — three times in the 100-yard backstroke and in the 100 butterfly as a senior. Zach Blankenbeker had several top-5 finishes, including a runner-up in the 500 freestyle in 2012, but no one since Hesen has won the state’s blue ribbon for any event.
Jeffersonville’s Timothy “T” Martin is looking to end that draught on Saturday. Martin has an opportunity to give the Red Devil boys their sixth — and perhaps seventh — state champions when he swims the 50 free and the 100 free at IUPUI Natatorium on Saturday.
A year ago, Martin finished third in the 50 and led at the turn. This year, he enters state as one of the three favorites, along with Columbus North’s Sam Loescher, who was second in the event in 2013, and Castle junior Trey Kolleck.
Martin said his goal for his last state finals is, “winning both of my individual events and getting my relay team into the top three. That would be a tremendous day for us.”
“He’ll be in the hunt for a state title,” Jeff coach Keith Gast said. “I would say it’s wide open. Last year, he got beat on the turn and that’s been a focus for us this year. Hopefully when he gets to the state meet, he’ll be first to the turn and first out of the turn and first to the wall.”
The future Indiana Hoosier enters Friday’s IHSAA state finals prelims as the state’s 10th seed in the 50 and the eighth seed in the 100. Despite the low seeds, which are based on last Saturday’s sectional times, no one expects Martin to finish any lower than third in either event. He has finished in the top five in the 50 free at state in all three of his previous seasons.
“It will be very difficult to achieve, but I have confidence that I can do it if I have a really good day,” Martin said. “My individual events, I really do believe I have a very good shot of winning. It depends on how fast the guys up north swim this year.”
“I hope T gets first,” junior teammate Evan Shive said. “I want T to get sent off a good way.”
The Red Devils had a lot of success with their relays a year ago. This year, only one Jeffersonville relay team will be swimming at IUPUI. However, the Devils have high hopes for their 17th-seeded 400 relay team of Martin, Shive, Tyler Sariscsany and Zach Griffis.
“We’ve got a pretty good relay,” Martin said, “especially with Tyler dropping as much time as he did [at sectional]. I know how fast Shive can go and I know how fast Griffis can go. If I can get down to the times I need to be, I think we have a shot of doing very well up at state.”
“Hopefully, we get top five,” Shive added. “All-State is my goal.”
Last year’s 400 free relay team of Martin, Shive, Karol Schmuck and Josh Phelps finished fifth in the state and set the school record in 3:09.35. Griffis believes this year’s relay is capable of placing higher and going faster.
“I think we’re capable of getting top three in the relay and taking that sectional record down from last year,” he said.
“I think Tyler Sariscsany has shown he has the mettle to get it done and Zach Griffis only has one swim and I’ve seen that kid do some pretty amazing things,” Gast said. “T’s going to lead off, so we’re going to be in the lead, and Evan Shive is anchoring, so it’s a pretty solid set.”
Shive and Sariscsany will also swim individual events on Friday. Shive returns to state in the 100 backstroke and the 100 butterfly after winning sectional crowns in both events on Saturday. The Jeff junior was eighth in the backstroke and 20th in the fly at state as a sophomore.
This year he’s seeded 13th in the backstroke and 22nd in the butterfly, but he fully expects to reach the final heat in both events after breaking the sectional record in the fly.
“Last year, I mostly concentrated on backstroke,” Shive said. “This year, it’s evened out. I’m going to try to break 50 [seconds] in both event this year.”
“His fly has really come on this year,” Gast said. “He’s not done. We have some goal times for Evan that are awfully fast. We’re looking to set him up for a state title next year.”
Shive said the experience of swimming at state a year ago should help him on Friday and Saturday.
“I still have nerves, but they’re not as much as last year,” Shive admitted. “I’m ready to go up there and race.”
Sariscasany made state in both of his events — the same events that Martin will swim. Sariscasany has sacrificed for the team by swimming the two events Martin swims, knowing that he had little chance to win sectional titles.
He reached state in the 100 free by beating the state cut. He made it in the 50 free by having one of the state’s fastest 32 times. He’s seeded 17th in the 100 and 21st in the 50, so he has a very good shot of making the finals in both events.
“It was my goal for the entire season,” Sariscsany said of reaching state in two individual events. “I felt like my best shot to get to state was to swim the 50 and the 100. Having the swims that I did on Saturday and putting myself in position to swim at state is exactly what I wanted to do, and I’m extremely pleased with it.”
“It’s incredible,” Martin said of Sariscsany’s performance at Saturday’s sectional at Highland Hills Middle School. “He proved that if I wasn’t here, he’d be the stud of the sectional in the sprinting events. There’s no doubt about it. He’s an incredibly talented individual and his hard work is starting to pay off for him.”
MARTIN’S CAREER AT STATE
FRESHMAN YEAR (2011)
• 200 Freestyle Relay — 1:27.01, 5th
• 50 Freestyle — 21.44, 6th
SOPHOMORE YEAR (2012)
• 50 Freestyle — 21.04, 4th
• 100 Freestyle — 46.16, 4th
• 400 Freestyle Relay — 3:09.39, 6th
• 200 Freestyle Relay — 1:26.45, 8th
JUNIOR YEAR (2013)
• 50 Freestyle — 21.10, 3rd
• 400 Freestyle Relay — 3:08.67, 5th
• 500 Freestyle — 4:35.70, 6th
• 200 Medley Relay — 1:34.70, 6th
RED DEVILS AT STATE
• 50 Freestyle — T Martin (21.36, 10); Tyler Sariscsany (21.79, 21)
• 100 Butterfly — Evan Shive (51.71, 22)
• 100 Freestyle — T Martin (46.44, 8), Tyler Sariscsany (47.25, 17)
• 100 Backstroke — Evan Shive (52.34, 13)
• 400 Freestyle Relay — T Martin, Tyler Sariscsany, Zach Griffis, Evan Shive (3:12.39, 17)