By GREG MENGELT
FLOYDS KNOBS —
New Albany won twice as many events as the host Highlanders in Saturday’s Floyd Central Sectional.
But, as expected, the Highlanders’ depth was too much for the field. The victory gives the Highlanders their sixth consecutive sectional crown.
The 2013 senior class is the third straight to win a sectional title all four years.
“You take a group of seniors four years in a row to a sectional championship, that’s a big deal for us,” Perkins said. “We want to keep that moving forward. We want to win this meet every year.”
Floyd had 28 swimmers place in the top 16 on Saturday, compared to 21 for the Bulldogs.
“Today played out pretty much like it should have,” Perkins said. “Our kids did a great job. It played out well. We really went after it today.”
Sophomore Meg Taylor was the day’s top Highlander. She won the 200-yard freestyle and the 500 freestyle, both in sectional-record time. In both events, Taylor easily beat teammate Amy McCormick for the sectional title in a berth in Friday’s IHSAA state finals at IUPUI Natatorium in Indianapolis.
“Hopefully Meg’s [best] day will be next Friday,” Perkins said. “She had a great day.”
Sophomore Maryn Meldrum gave the Highlanders a third sectional championship. Meldrum’s victory in the 100 breaststroke helped give Floyd the lead for good.
“Winning the breaststroke was really awesome,” Meldrum said. “It was a [personal best] for me as well, so I’m really glad about that.”
“That’s a nice time drop for her today,” Perkins said of Meldrum’s performance. “It was a great swim for her as a sophomore to get that win today. It means a lot to her.”
Despite falling short of its second sectional title in three years, New Albany felt like championship following the meet.
Hannah Manger won her 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th career sectional titles and Rachel Klein broke two sectional records for the Bulldogs. Manger and Klein were joined by Reagan Thom and Alexis Lete in winning the 200 and 400 freestyle relays.
“We tied for the sectional championship [in 2011] and we didn’t swim as well as today,” New Albany coach Steve Bonifer said. “More sectional records and state cuts. I wasn’t expecting us to go that fast. We were the quality of the meet today. I’m so proud of them. So proud.”
“I do not think we, as a team, lost,” Klein said. “The points don’t matter. We all had phenomenal times. Floyd Central swam great. Jeffersonville swam great and so did New Albany. I think we were all winners.”
Manger won the 200 individual medley and the 100 backstroke — the same events she won a year ago. In saving herself for Friday’s state meet, Manger fell just short of breaking her own meet record in both events.
Klein beat Lete to the wall in the 50 and 100 freestyle. She shattered her own sectional record in the 50 freestyle, going 23.96. She then destroyed Floyd Central’s Haley Dresner’s 100 record in 52.71.
She met the state cut time in both races and seemed to surprise even herself.
“I think [the fast times] probably came from it being my last sectional meet ever,” Klein explained. “I’ve just been hyped all week for this. I’m amazed right now. I’m not sure where it came from.”
Jeffersonville won the day’s opening event as Karlee Demsey, Samantha Glover, Yanna Martin and Elizabeth Browne took the 200 medley relay title. Later in the meet, Alexa Waldrip won the diving title with a sectional-record 391.4 and Demsey won her second championship with a 59.33 in the 100 butterfly.
After finishing fourth a year ago, Jeff led Floyd and New Albany through nine events before comfortably finishing third as a team.
“I came down and told the official I wanted to file a protest. We wanted to end the meet [after the ninth event],” Gast joked. “I thought about going and pulling the fire alarm. I knew New Albany and Floyd were going to come hard [in the final three events]. As much as I wanted to think maybe we could get it, I knew we weren’t going to be able to hold them off.”
Gast said this year’s team was determined to make the Red Devils competitive at the sectional level again.
“The girls decided that we weren’t going to settle for fourth and fifth place at the sectional anymore and they worked real hard,” Gast explained. “I was real pleased with the medley relay,” Gast said. “We had some great swims in the rest of the meet. It was a real team effort for us today.”
Demsey, who grew up in Jeffersonville before transferring to Lexington, came back to give the Devils a boost this season. She qualified for the state meet in Kentucky last year and will represent Jeff at the Indiana state meet on Friday.
“It feels awesome, this being my first year and winning,” Demsey said.
Silver Creek finished 10th as a team with Kaitlin Sullivan finishing 11th in the 100 backstroke and 16th in the 200 IM.
Providence placed 14th with Jessica Payne, Kelsey Rogers, Jannelle Marriott and Annemarie Carney combining for a team-best 12th in the 400 freestyle relay.