TERRE HAUTE —
Terre Haute South’s talented young boys team heads into tonight’s Plainfield Swimming and Diving Sectional looking to make waves as a team contender against favorite Avon, which is ranked No. 8 in the state.
The Braves, who took second last season to Avon, are ranked 24th in the coaches’ rankings heading into the postseason after an undefeated regular-season in dual meets.
“I’m really excited,” coach Jeff Thompson said. “This year, and the next couple years are going to be a lot of fun.”
The top 12 from tonight’s preliminaries advance to Saturday’s finals with the winners earning an automatic berth to the state finals at the IU Natatorium on IUPUI’s campus.
South’s medley relay team has a seed time of 1 minute, 40.08 seconds, which is 14th best in the state. Avon’s best time is 1:37.86, but the state’s automatic qualifying time for the state meet is 1:38.82.
Christian Welhelm is 14th in the state in the 200 freestyle with his time of 1:44.88, but he’s behind Parks Jones of Avon, who has swam 1:44.47. Wilhelm is slightly faster, however, in the 500 freestyle with a 4:45.40 to Jones’ 4:45.79.
Terre Haute North junior Courtland Jones is ranked sixth in the 200 freestyle, and Patriots’ senior Matt Priester is sixth in the 500 freestyle. Jones is seeded fourth in the 100 freestyle with a time of 51.19.
“They’ll bring a lot of leadership and set the tone for what we want to accomplish,” North coach Mike Williams said. “My goal is to see 100 percent personal bests. That’s been my goal from the beginning is to see everyone get personal bests at the sectional.”
Several of South’s underclassmen have the chance to reach state early in their varsity careers.
Sophomore Dalton Mitchell is 13th in state in 100 backstroke with his time of 54.67, but he’ll have to cut more than a second off his time or beat Plainfield senior Nick Allen, who has swam a 54.57.
South freshman Chandler Bray is already swimming under a minute in the 100 breaststroke, where he’s seeded third behind two Avon swimmers. Bray’s time of 59.60 is 19th best in the state this season.
Bray is seeded second in the 200 individual medley behind Avon sophomore Grant Lewis, and South has the third and fourth best seed times with Mitchell and junior Josh Ford.
South senior diver Alex Davis, who will compete for Indiana University next year, leads a strong group of Braves’ drivers who could all advance to regional round next week, Thompson said.
“I know I can hit my dives. I think I can win,” Davis said.
Thompson is looking forward to the weekend.
“We have a very, very talented team,” he said. “We’re young and athletic. Avon is a little bit more mature in terms of the amount of time their athletes have been competing. Avon’s the clear favorite, but over the course of the next couple years, that will change.”