By GREG MENGELT
NEW ALBANY —
New Albany’s Hannah Manger won the last 15 sectional championships in which she swam. She also qualified for eight IHSAA State Finals in eight tries.
That’s how you become a four-time News and Tribune girls’ Swimmer of the Year.
“I set goals for myself and I accomplished all of them,” Manger said.
Still, heading into her senior season, one accomplishment was missing from Manger’s stellar career. She had qualified for the state finals in four different events and had five top-20 finishes, including an 11th in the 100-yard backstroke as a junior and a 12th in the 200 individual medley as a sophomore. But a top-eight finish — and a spot in the state championship heat — had eluded her.
Until this season.
On Feb. 8, Manger qualified for the final heat in both the 200 IM and the 100 backstroke. The next day, she finished eighth in the IM, then exceeded that with a sixth in the backstroke.
“That was my biggest goal,” Manger said of making the final heat. “If I hadn’t done that, I don’t think my high school career would have been what I wanted it to be. Finishing that way, with the times I had, made everything OK.”
Manger leaves New Albany High School with eight sectional records, including five individual records.
“For four years, we had to try to find out what Hannah Manger would swim and try to plan around her,” Jeffersonville coach Keith Gast admitted. “She could have swum any even and probably won just about any even she wanted. It’s been fun watching her swim, but I’m looking forward to seeing her leave for Purdue.”
Manger is a natural. She showed up her freshman year and was immediately the area’s best swimmer. It all came so easy that she didn’t appreciate or understand what she was doing as a freshman.
“Until the end of my freshman year, I never understood the difference between individual titles versus team titles and what it all meant,” Manger said. “I didn’t realize not everybody was capable of doing what I was doing or had the ability to go into every race expecting to win or expecting to go to state. After that, I realized how special [winning sectionals and qualifying for state was], it made it special every time.”
Manger also entered a sectional that had been dominated by Floyd Central. She — along with teammates Rachel Klein, Abby Litkenhous, Lauren McCool and Kaitlyn Stewart — helped change that. New Albany won a pair of Hoosier Hills Conference championships and tied the Highlanders and Seymour for the 2011 sectional crown, the Bulldogs’ first since 1980.
“I think I wouldn’t be anywhere without my teammates and without my coaches,” Manger said. “Having success as a team made high school so much more enjoyable and made me want to work even harder for them.”
Beginning this fall, Manger will have a new set of teammates at Purdue. Like when she entered New Albany as a freshman, Manger said she has no idea what lies ahead for her as a Boilermaker.
“I’m not really sure what to expect yet,” she said. “I have an idea of what it’s going to be like, but I won’t really know until I get there. I’m sure once I’m there, I’ll be able to set my goals. I’m excited to get up there and talk to the coaches about the rest of my swimming career.”
NEWS AND TRIBUNE GIRLS’ SWIMMING ALL-AREA TEAM
Hannah Manger, New Albany, Sr. (Swimmer of the Year)
Rachel Klein, New Albany, Sr.
Meg Taylor, Floyd Central, So.
Karlee Demsey, Jeffersonville, Jr.
Maryn Meldrum, Floyd Central, So.
Alexis Lete, New Albany, So.
Amy McCormick, Floyd Central, Jr.
Elizabeth Browne, Jeffersonville, So.
Diver — Alexa Waldrip, Jeffersonville, Sr.
Sarah Taylor, Floyd Central, Sr.
Reagan Thom, New Albany, Fr.
Lauren McCool, New Albany, Sr.
Samantha Glover, Jeffersonville, Jr.
Layah Jones, Floyd Central, Fr.
Yanna Martin, Jeffersonville, So.
Amber Leininger, Jeffersonville, So.
Kaitlynn Stewart, New Albany, Sr.
Diver — Lauren Kessinger, New Albany, So.
Coach of the Year — Steve Bonifer, New Albany