> SOUTHERN INDIANA —
In her four years at New Albany High School, Hannah Manger has accomplished just about everything there is to accomplish as a swimmer.
Manger has cemented herself one of the best swimmers in Floyd County history with 15 sectional titles in 16 tries.
“[Winning 15 sectional championships is] special to me, but I think my focus is more on state,” Manger admitted. “Sectional titles are awesome, but I’m really looking forward to next weekend.”
Manger has qualified for the second day of the state finals the last three years, finishing a career-best 11th in last year’s 100-yard backstroke.
But one accomplishment has alluded the Purdue recruit.
One Friday at IUPUI Natatorium in Indianapolis, Manger hopes to check it off of her list, as well.
Manger wants a spot in the final heat of the backstroke and the 200 individual medley, guaranteeing her a top-8 state finish.
That’s the prize she’s been eyeing since the end of last season.
“I’ve tried to save myself pretty well and I’m looking forward to two top-8 finishes,” Manger said. “I’m stronger this year. I’ve been training a lot harder and a lot faster than in the past. It’ll be a good year. I feel good about it.”
Manger will be joined at IUPUI by teammate Rachel Klein, who went to the state finals in relays the past three seasons.
Klein set sectional records in the 50 and 100 freestyle races on Saturday. If she repeats her performance, she should return for the top-16 — if not the top-8 — on Saturday.
“I’m definitely stoked about the [state meet],” Klein said. “For state, I’m hoping top-16. Really, I’m just going to go there, give it my all and hope for the best.”
Floyd Central has dominated Southern Indiana girls’ swimming, capturing sectional titles in each of the past six years. However, it’s been that long since the Highlanders have had a swimmer advance past Friday and into Saturday’s top-16.
Floyd Central coach Joe Perkins believes that sophomore Meg Taylor could be the swimmer to end the draught.
Taylor won the 200 freestyle and the 500 at the sectional, breaking sectional records in both events. Tayor is seeded 25th in each event.
“We haven’t put a girl in the state finals for six year, seven years now,” Floyd Central coach Joe Perkins said of Taylor. “Getting to Saturday will be the key for her right now. We have our sights set high for her, as far as what she’s capable of doing.”
Fellow-Highlander sophomore Maryn Meldrum will be making her first individual trip to state. Meldrum was the 100 breaststroke champion at the Floyd Sectional.
Meldrum, who is seeded 30th, is looking more at continuing to drop her career personal best than in advancing to Saturday.
“[State] will be awesome,” Meldrum said. “I went to state last year, but only on a relay. Swimming that 100 breast against the best swimmers on the best teams, that will be awesome. I’m really excited.
“I really hope to drop even more time. [The field] will be really fast, so really, I’m just hoping to drop more time.”
“She’ll be excited and probably drop more time Friday,” Perkins said of Meldrum.
Karlee Demsey is the only Jeffersonville individual who will swim on Friday. Demsey grew up in Jeffersonville, but lived the last few years in Lexington. After transferring back to Jeff over the summer, Demsey will swim in the IHSAA state finals after qualifying for the state meet in Kentucky a season ago.
“The goal is just to have fun,” Demsey said. “It’s a new opportunity for me. I’m just going to have fun.”
If the times are similar to last year’s state meet, Demsey could qualify for Saturday’s finals. Gast thinks she can go even fast, giving her an outside shot at a top-8 finish.
“She was real fast in the first 50 [at the sectional]. I think if we can get her nerves under control at the state meet, I think she can go [under 58 seconds],” Gast speculated. “I think she has more in the tank.”
Demsey will be joined by Samantha Glover, Yanna Martin and Elizabeth Browne in the 200 medley relay after the foursome won the sectional title on Saturday. The Devils’ medley relay team is seeded 31st.