By GREG MENGELT
FLOYDS KNOBS —
A few weeks ago, Floyd Central coach Joe Perkins rearranged his relay teams.
It didn’t take him long to see that the moves worked.
The Highlanders entered last Saturday’s Floyd Central Sectional with the goal of having all three relay teams advance to tonight’s preliminary round of the IHSAA State Finals at the IUPUI Natatorium in Indianapolis.
After accomplishing that goal, Floyd has its sights set on qualifying all three to Saturday’s final round. The top 16 teams in the preliminaries move on to Saturday’s finals. The top eight in each event will swim for a state championship.
“We’re in that window — the 21 to 22 seed — for all of them,” Highlanders’ coach Joe Perkins said. “I think we can drop time and swim faster this weekend.”
Just getting three relay teams to state makes a statement about a program’s depth of quality swimmers.
“The depth is definitely a big deal for our program,” Perkins said. “The speed has been very impressive, especially when we put them all together in those relays.”
“It says that we all work very hard every day,” junior Eli Anderson said.
Perhaps the Highlanders’ best chance for advancing to Saturday’s final round is the 200-yard freestyle relay team. Floyd won the sectional championship in the event and is seeded 22nd with Anderson, Colin Lyell, Noble Guyon and Nathan Manias on the squad.
“We’ve been looking at times in the 200 and we think we have a shot to get to the [top 16] and maybe the [top eight],” Guyon said “We still have time we can drop.”
“We actually hope to get the 200 free relay in the top eight. We’re all pretty excited to get all three relays in the top 16, and I definitely think that’s a possibility,” Anderson said.
The Highlanders upset favored Jeffersonville in the 200 medley relay last Saturday by swimming a time of 1:38.81. Brendon Smith, Guyon, Lyell and Manias outdueled the Red Devils by less than a half-second.
After the race, Perkins admitted that he was surprised by his team’s victory. Guyon agrees with his coach.
“I was shocked when we won the 200 medley,” Guyon said. “That really surprised me.”
“Floyd really stepped up their game,” Jeff senior Timothy “T” Martin said. “They had an incredible swim. We all swam what we needed to swim, so Floyd just took it from us.”
Perkins said Guyon’s effort in his 50-yard breaststroke leg was the key to the victory.
“Noble’s leg was our best probably,” Perkins said. “All four of them were great, but Noble’s leg was dynamite. His breaststroke speed has come a long way. He just has a strong drive out of the start and the turn. His leg of the relay is probably the one that stood out the most.”
“I was trying to get the state cut [time] or get even with Jeff,” Guyon recalled. “I just swam my heart out and when I was I had a half-body lead on [Jeffersonville], I was shocked. I think I can go even faster at the state finals.”
Lyell, Smith, Manias and Anderson are seeded 22nd in the 200 free relay. The Highlanders earned the spot with a state cut time of 3:13.82 after finishing second to Jeffersonville at the sectional.
Floyd also will take three swimmers to state in four individual events. That gives the Highlanders seven state finalists, the most of any area school and the most for Floyd in 14 seasons under Perkins.
Anderson is seeded 26th in the 100 backstroke, which he made with one of the state’s top 32 sectional times, and is 27th in the 200 freestyle, a spot he earned by winning Saturday’s sectional championship. Lyell is seeded 21st in the 50 free and senior Marc McCormick will make his first state finals appearance in the 500 freestyle. He’s seeded 27th.
“They’re close,” Perkins said of his trio of swimmers’ chances of making it back to Saturday. “I think we have some more time to drop on all of our individual swims.”
HIGHLANDERS AT STATE
• 200 Medley Relay — Brendon Smith, Noble Guyon, Colin Lyell, Nathan Manias (1:38.81, No. 27 seed)
• 200 Freestyle — Eli Anderson (1:44.71, 27)
• 50 Freestyle — Colin Lyell (21.79, 21)
• 500 Freestyle — Marc McCormick (4:49.74, 27)
• 200 Freestyle Relay — Colin Lyell, Eli Anderson, Noble Guyon, Nathan Manias (1:28.69, 22)
• 100 Backstroke — Eli Anderson (53.83, 26)
• 400 Freestyle Relay — Colin Lyell, Brendon Smith, Nathan Manias, Eli Anderson (3:13.82, 21)