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February 13, 2013

H.S. BOYS' SWIMMING: Jeff heavy favorites again at sectional

Floyd hopes to send four individuals to state; Silver Creek's Salinas is a finals contender in two events

FLOYDS KNOBS — Jeffersonville is favored to win six of the 12 events, including all three relays, at this weekend’s Floyd Central Sectional, which begins with tonight’s preliminary round.

The Red Devils have a serious contender in as many as 10 events. Even in the events that they’re not expected to win, Jeffersonville swimmers will likely fill the final heat.

In short, Jeff is a heavy favorite to win its third consecutive sectional title following Saturday’s finals.

“I hate to say in sports that anything’s a foregone conclusion,” Jeff coach Keith Gast said with caution. “But, on paper, we’re certainly the favorites. There’s a difference between confident and arrogant, but yeah, it looks like something would have to go strangely wrong for us not to win the meet.”

If Jeff can get between 6-8 state finalists, including the relays, its goal of a top-10 state finish should be within its grasp.

“That’s where our goals are set right now,” Gast said of the top 10. “[Tonight] is a step in that process. Saturday is a step in that process. We’re excited to get it going.”

Jeff has never won all three relays at a sectional. If the season times are any indication, it should on Saturday.

“Winning all three relays, that’s our goal,” Gast said. “That would be a first for us.”

Devils star Timothy “T” Martin is favored to win two individual races and two relays. The junior has won every sectional event in which he’s entered and is the biggest favorite of the day in the 500 freestyle.

However, Martin will have to hold off three-time state finalist Luke Lete in the 50 freestyle. The New Albany senior, who’s also favored in the 100 butterfly, nearly knocked off Martin in the HHC race.

“Luke’s good. He’s very good,” Gast said of Lete. “But I think T can bring it. If he’s going to beat T, Luke’s going to have to go really fast to get it. We have a lot of respect for Luke Lete. We’ll have to see how that race turns out.”

Also favored for Jeff is exchange student Karol Schmuck in the 100 freestyle. His biggest challenge will likely come from Sariscsany.

According to this year’s best times, Jennings County’s Trever Wilson is a slight favorite in the 100 breaststroke, but Lucas Hennegan is the defending champion and few would be surprised by him winning the title again.

Evan Shive is seeded second to Lete in the 100 butterfly and Floyd Central’s Oscar Anderson in the 100 backstroke. Even if the Jeff sophomore isn’t able to beat Lete or Anderson, Gast believes Shive can advance to the state meet by earning a “state-cut” time.

Floyd Central coach Joe Perkins said his team will try to compete for its seventh sectional title in school history — and its first since 2010 — but he also understands how good the Red Devils are.

Jeff easily beat the Highlanders in the regular season and in the Hoosier Hills Conference two weeks ago.

“We would never concede victory,” Perkins said. “We’re going to come out and do everything we can and put ourselves in a good position, but yeah, Jeff’s pretty good. This is probably the best team [Gast has] had.”

By as large of a margin as Jeff is locked into the championship, Floyd is equally locked into second place, ahead of likely third-place finisher Jennings County.

“For us, the battle is against ourselves,” Perkins said. “Hopefully, we can get some winners and some individuals through.”

The Highlanders have four possibilities to move on.

Senior Oscar Anderson is a huge favorite to return to the state meet in the 200 individual medley and, while he’s not as big of a favorite in the 100 backstroke, he is favored to win that, as well.

Eli Anderson will likely not win the 500 freestyle with Martin in the event, but Perkins likes his chances to challenge for a state cut or to qualify on time.

“He’s good for a big time drop [in the 500],” Perkins said of Eli Anderson.

A diving state finalist a year ago, Dylan Nichols should at least get a top-4 spot and advance to Tuesday’s Bloomington Diving Regional.

The other possible Floyd champion is Kyle Crater in the 200 freestyle. Crater is a slight favorite over Sariscsany and Zak Griffis of Jeffersonville, Wilson and teammates Marc McCormick and Eli Anderson.

“That race is so close between three or four guys, maybe five,” Perkins said. “That’s one of those events that you really can’t pick who’s going to win. There are six guys who could break 1:50. It will be an exciting way to start the meet.”

“That’s probably about as wide open an event as we’ve had in this sectional for a lot of years,” Gast said. “I’m personally looking forward to watching that race. That’s going to be maybe the race to watch on Saturday.”

Silver Creek’s Gabe Salinas should make a couple of finals. He is seeded sixth in the 200 IM and the 100 freestyle.

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