By GREG MENGELT
NEW ALBANY —
New Albany senior Hannah Manger has been the area’s best girls’ swimmer for the past four seasons.
She’s never failed to win a sectional final or reach the state finals in any event in which she has entered. In 2011, Manger helped lead the Bulldogs to their first sectional crown in 21 years — tying with Floyd Central and Seymour for the title.
“Hannah has pretty much every record on the record board,” teammate and classmate Phoebe Bauer said. “That speaks for itself.”
However, last season the rival Highlanders regained the edge in winning the Hoosier Hills Conference and sectional crowns.
With its most talented class in years, the New Albany senior leaders — including Manger and Bauer — are looking at taking back the championships and go out on top.
“We look forward to conference and sectional,” Bauer said. “That’s what we work for.”
On Wednesday, Manger answered questions about her achievements, the 2012-13 season and her recent signing with Purdue University for this week’s edition of Poolside.
QUESTION: How has the season gone for you, in particular, and as a team?
MANGER: “Our season has gone pretty well. We’re undefeated in dual meets and we’re practicing really well lately. We’ve had a good time together, we’re getting better and we’re having fun. For me, I’m right where I need to be with my times and everything. I’m just getting through winter break and getting ready for sectionals.”
Q: What’s the plan during Christmas break? I know there aren’t a lot of meets, so are you planning on putting in a lot of miles or will you take a little break?
MANGER: “We do more quality yardage than quantity. We don’t do 6,000 yards a day most days. We do 2-a-days and we do sprints in the mornings and sprints at night. That’s definitely what we need.”
Q: As a team, what’s the goal for the second half of the season?
MANGER: “We want to get faster. Really fast. We want to do well in our dual meets and we want to place as well as we can in our conference and at sectional. We want to place as many people at state this year, because we have the ability to.”
Q: Floyd Central won the sectional last year. I know they’re your rival. I know they lost quite a bit and you lost a really quality swimmer in Abby Litkenhous. How do you assess who’s the favorite in the conference and in the sectional?
MANGER: “I think Floyd’s always going to be the favorite, but I think it will be closer than people expect, just going back to dual meet times the past couple of months. I’ve talked with [Floyd Central coach] Joe Perkins a lot about our team and my times and his girls’ times. He thinks it will be close. [New Albany coach Steve] Bonifer doesn’t think it will be close at all and they’ll win, but you never know.”
Q: Can you guys win enough individual events to keep up with their superior depth?
MANGER: “I think we can. I think we have a lot of fast swimmers who are capable of winning multiple events.”
Q: You’ve never lost a sectional race and you won’t this year, I assume. So let’s talk about state. Your best finishes at state is 11th in the 100 backstroke last year and 12th in the 200 IM as a sophomore. As an individual, knowing that you’re going to win two races — four including the relays — is one of the goals for the season to finish as high at state as you can?
MANGER: “I don’t so much look at placing in sectionals and at state. I look at my times and where I want to be. After high school state, I go back into club swimming. In club swimming, it’s more competitive because you’re swimming just for yourself and not for your team. So I really just look at times.
Q: You’re honestly not concerned about how high you place at state?
MANGER: “I want to place in the top eight, but that’s not the only focus.”
Q: You signed to swim at Purdue. What was the appeal of Purdue to you?
MANGER: “I went on a visit last year and I really liked it. I talked with the coaches and I kept in touch with them over the summer. At my official visit, I had a lot of fun and I liked all of the girls.”
Q: What were some of the other choices you had?
MANGER: “I looked at Indiana University and Marshall University and I looked into West Point. I really didn’t like West Point — for myself. It’s a good option, but I didn’t like it for myself. My second choice was Marshall because I like the coaches. I think Purdue had the right academic program and it’s not too far away. I wanted to go into biology or biomedical engineering.”
Q: That was going to be my next question. What is it about those fields that attracted you? For what career will you be preparing?
MANGER: “I want to be a dentist or an orthopedic surgeon. In orthopedic surgery, I would need an engineering background.”
— Interview conducted by News and Tribune sports editor Greg Mengelt
BOYS SWIMMER OF THE WEEK
• T Martin, Jeffersonville: Martin won the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle at Saturday’s Hamilton Southeastern Splash-N-Clash Invitational, helping the Red Devils to a second-place finish. Martin’s victory in the 500 broke the meet’s 10-year old record. Martin joined Karol Schmuck, Zach Griffis and Evan Shive for a runner-up finish in the 400 freestyle relay and Shive, Josh Phelps and Evan Lopez to finish third in the 200 medley relay.
• Oscar Anderson, Floyd Central: Anderson was the only two-time individual winner against Jeffersonville on Thursday — in the 200 IM and the 100 butterfly. Anderson was then a four-time winner at Saturday’s Floyd Central Invitational. He was the 200 IM and the 100 fly and helped the 200 and 400 free relay teams to victory.
• Gabe Salinas, Silver Creek: Salinas finished an impressive runner-up in the 200 individual medley at Saturday’s Floyd Central Invitational. He was also fourth in the 100 butterfly.
• Chris Spencer, Charlestown: Spencer placed seventh in the 500 freestyle and 10th in the 100 butterfly at Saturday’s Floyd Central Invitational.
GIRLS SWIMMER OF THE WEEK
• Meg Taylor, Floyd Central: Taylor won the 200 freestyle and the 500 free at Saturday’s Floyd Central Invitational. The sophomore set meet records in both events, going 1:59.98 in the 200 free and 5:17.72 in the 500. She became a four-time winner by helping the Highlanders’ 200 free relay team (along with Maryn Meldrum, Amy McCormick and Sarah Taylor) and the 400 free relay (with Meldrum, McCormick and Layah Jones) to victories.
• Karlee Demsey, Jeffersonville: Demsey finished sixth in the 200 individual medley and seventh in the 100 butterfly at Hamilton Southeastern on Saturday.
• Kaitlin Sullivan, Silver Creek: Sullivan finished fourth in the 100 backstroke and fifth in the 200 IM at Saturday’s Floyd Central Invitational.
• Whitney Andrews, Charlestown: Andrews placed seventh in the 100 backstroke, 10th in the 200 freestyle and was a member of the Pirates’ 10th-place 200 freestyle relay team at Floyd Central on Saturday.
• Allie Orberson, Providence: At Saturday’s Floyd Invitational, Orberson touched the wall 14th in the 100 freestyle and 20th in the 100 breaststroke.