News From Terre Haute, Indiana

High School

February 17, 2013

South freshman Chandler Bray leads Braves to second at swimming sectional

PLAINFIELD — Terre Haute South freshman Chandler Bray won the 200-yard individual medley and the Braves placed second as a team behind favored Avon in Saturday’s finals of the IHSAA Plainfield Sectional for boys swimming.

Avon accumulated 511 points, with South next at 423, Plainfield third at 244 and Terre Haute North fourth at 230. Greencastle was fifth with 193, while South Putnam and West Vigo finished 10th and 11th respectively.

“I knew Avon was a clear favorite going in,” South coach Jeff Thompson told the Tribune-Star. “We made some points up on Thursday [in the sectional preliminaries] and put ourselves in position where we could win today. But it meant that Avon was going to have to make mistakes.”

That didn’t happen, but finishing second was not a bad showing for the Braves.

Bray’s time in the 200 IM was 1 minute, 54.94 seconds. He’ll move on to the state finals Friday (and possibly Saturday) at the Indiana University Natatorium on the IUPUI campus in Indianapolis.

“Chandler actually broke the [age] 13-14 state record previously owned by Kyle Whitaker [in the 200 IM], so that was a pretty cool deal,” Thompson pointed out. “Chandler had a great day. His 100 breast[stroke] time [58.73, good for third place] was a little off what it was the other night. But I think his mind was all wrapped around that 200 IM today. He had a goal and he went out and did it.”

“Before the race even started, I was very nervous,” the 14-year-old Bray said of his 200 IM performance. “After the first 50 [yards], which is my weakest part of the IM, I was ahead. I knew then it was my race to lose. I had a really solid middle 100. Then in the last 50, I started hurting really bad — my arms and my legs mostly.”

Still clinging to a lead over Avon sophomore Grant Lewis, Bray realized he needed to fight through the pain if he wanted to capture his first sectional championship.

“I put my head down and went [as fast as possible],” Bray continued. “I was pretty happy at the end.”

Bray’s goals for the state finals are to improve his times and place in the top three in the 200 IM.

Other top-four finishers for South on Saturday were its 200 medley relay squad (second in 1:37.53); junior Christian Wilhelm in the 200 freestyle (second in 1:43.88) and 500 freestyle (second in 4:43.72), sophomore Dalton Mitchell in the 200 IM (third in 1:57.25) and 100 backstroke (third in 53.82); junior Josh Ford in the 200 IM (fourth in 1:59.76); senior Alex Davis in diving (second with 408.80 points); senior Collin McCord in the 100 butterfly (fourth in 54.63); its 200 free relay squad (third in 1:32.55); and its 400 free relay squad (second in 3:12.55).

Thompson said both of Wilhelm’s times were school records.

In addition to Bray in the 200 IM and 100 breaststroke, South will send Wilhelm (200 and 500 freestyles), its 200 medley and 400 free relay squads and Mitchell (100 backstroke) to the state finals.

 Also, Davis will advance to the diving regional Tuesday evening at Avon.

“It was a great team performance,” Thompson summarized.

Meanwhile, North’s top-four finishers were junior Courtland Jones in the 100 freestyle (third in 49.48), senior Matt Priester in the 500 freestyle (fourth in 4:49.56), its 200 free relay foursome (fourth in 1:32.89) and its 400 free relay foursome (fourth in 3:23.48).

“[Fourth in the team standings] is as good as we expected to do,” North coach Mike Williams assessed afterward. “We knew we were up against some tough teams. … It would have been nice to catch Plainfield [for third].”

Williams, who mentioned that the Patriots carried only 12 athletes on their roster for this sectional, said seniors Priester, James Welch, Stephen Koos and Josh Dadson contributed clutch performances Saturday.

“We’ve got some recruiting to do,” Williams admitted while looking ahead to next season. “We’ve got some serious recruiting to do to get our numbers back up. … We’re going to get out and kinda beat the bushes and look in the middle schools for some kids who want to be part of a great program.”

Also worth noting, Greencastle had a double winner in junior Nash Firebaugh, who finished first in the 50 freestyle (22.22) and 100 butterfly (51.30).

On an awards note, Thompson was named the sectional’s Coach of the Year after the meet.

“That’s just great swimmers, great parents and great assistant coaches making me look good,” he said with a chuckle. “That’s all that is.”

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