WARSAW — Despite having one of the oldest programs in the state, Culver Girls Academy’s swim team had never won a sectional championship prior to last year.
Now the Lady Eagles can hang a pair of banners up in the historic James R. Lowenstine Pool.
After earning an impressive 20 berths to the finals at the Warsaw Sectional prelims Thursday, CGA avoided a letdown in Saturday’s championship round, cruising to a repeat title with 445 points ahead of host Warsaw’s 382.
“It just shows what our girls can do in extreme challenges. At our school, surprisingly enough, not a lot of people know about the swim team,” said Cali Girard, who won her first sectional title as head coach of CGA after taking a hiatus last year and was named co-Coach of the Year along with Logansport’s Heidi Hendricks Saturday. “They just fight in and out. In the freezing cold weather, we get up in the morning to swim, and it’s something great for our school because we have one of the oldest pools, so you would think that we could muster a team at some point that could really be competitive, and the girls have stepped up. The boys have done it before, but now the girls have shown that they can be a powerhouse in the state as well, which is nice.”
As it was last year, Saturday’s team championship competition was largely a race between the Eagles and the Tigers, who had advanced to the finals in 18 different spots and four into the consolation finals behind CGA’s 20 finals berths and seven consol berths.
The rest of the field lagged far behind with Logansport finishing third with 267 points and Lewis Cass taking fourth with a 232 score. Rochester was fifth with 178 points, Columbia City was sixth with 141 points, Huntington North placed seventh with 138 points, and Plymouth finished eighth just four points back with a team score of 134. Pioneer, Tippecanoe Valley, Wabash, Manchester and Whitko rounded out the 13-team field in order.
The Eagles won seven championships at Warsaw as Eberle Miller, Rory Byrne, Lauryn Robinson and Jaclyn Schutjer opened up an early lead over Warsaw with a 1:52.77 winning turn in the medley relay, Byrne won the IM in 2:14.29, Robinson took top honors in the 100 free in 56.41 after being out-touched by Logansport’s Rebecca Yeoman in the 50 free to finish second there, Betsy Whitfield, Sarah Jamieson, Anna Zaccaria and Robinson combined to win the 200 free relay in 1:46.92, Zaccaria, Schutjer, Miller and Byrne won the 400 free relay in 4:00.94, and Miller won both the 200 free (2:01.37) and the backstroke (58.65).
Miller’s time in the backstroke was also the only state cut time of the meet, although the point was moot since as the sectional champion in the event she earned an automatic bid to Friday’s state championship prelims at the IUPUI Natatorium in Indianapolis. Miller’s four-for-four finish in championships was the only sweep of the day by a swimmer.
“Last Thursday at South Bend Adams she got kicked in the eye and went blind in one eye so we went to the emergency room last Thursday,” said Girard. “But all season she’s been looking really good, she’s been doing what we’ve asked. She’s kind of filled into herself. She’s always been a tall girl, but this year in particular she just looked good. We knew if we could just keep her calm and give her her plan and go in and have her do it on Thursday that today was going to be good.
“She just is starting to see how much potential she has. The last two years she was nervous and in her head. This year we’ve really seen what she can do.”
CGA’s seven championships was one better than last year’s total by the Lady Eagles.
The medley relay of Miller, Byrne, Robinson and Schutjer earned their second straight state berth, Byrne earned her second straight berth in the individual medley, Robinson won her second straight title in the 100 free — after clinching wins in both the 50 and 100 last year — Miller won the back a second straight year, and the Eagles won a repeat championship in the 400 free relay with a slightly different lineup. Miller’s 200 free championship was a first for the junior, and CGA swept all three relays after going two-for-three last year in third place in the 200 free relay.
“I told the girls I wasn’t looking at the win, I was looking at how they were doing in the pool. Once we won the 200 free relay I felt a lot better because that was one I didn’t know if we could win,” said Girard.
“I felt pretty solid about the medley and the 400 definitely, because they won that last year so I knew that they had a better shot. But I had played with some stuff and messed with the 200 free relay, and I was like ‘If this goes well then we should be okay.’ But accidents can still happen so I don’t like looking at the scores.”
While CGA advanced to Friday’s state meet in seven spots, Plymouth closed out its swim season at Saturday’s sectional finals.
Layne Holloway capped off a strong sophomore season in seventh in the 200 free (2:12.36) and sixth in the 100 free (1:01.27), while senior Megan Senter closed out her career in sixth in the 500 free (5:58.06) and 11th in the 50 free (29.0), freshman Katie Berg rolled up 185.95 points in the diving finals to finish ninth there, and the Pilgrims’ 200 free relay team of Holloway, Lexi Fetters, Lauren Page and Senter placed seventh in their event in 2:00.19.
“I’m very proud of these girls and how hard they’ve worked. There were a lot of kids that just came out for swim team that ended up being swimmers by the end of the year,” said Plymouth head coach Leanne Senter.
Fetters also won the consols of the butterfly to finish in ninth (1:14.77), while teammate Page won the IM consols to finish ninth (2:37.99) there, and Plymouth’s 200 medley relay team of Page, Brianna Hayes, Fetters and Senters placed ninth in their event as well (2:19.7) . Page also finished 10th in the consols of the backstroke (1:12.46) ahead of Fetters in 15th (1:16.72), while the Lady Pilgrims’ 400 free relay of Brianda Lowe, Anya Hettich, Hayes and Holloway recorded three personal-best legs and cut more than 15 seconds off their prelim time to wind up in 11th Saturday in 4:44.81.
Plymouth bids goodbye to just two seniors in newcomer Lowe and Megan Senter as the team closes out a rocky season in which the program was without a home pool.
“I think we rose above our expectations of what our season could be given the circumstances of traveling to swim,” said Leanne Senter. “Brianda Lowe came to us late, but she was a nice addition. She could swim just about anything we put her in, we moved her around where we needed her. Megan had a good season. It maybe wasn’t as stellar as she would have hoped it was a solid way to finish her career.”
• WARSAW SECTIONAL
Team scores: 1. CULVER GIRLS ACADEMY 445, 2. WARSAW 382, 3. LOGANSPORT 267, 4. CASS 232, 5. ROCHESTER 178, 6. COLUMBIA CITY 141, 7. HUNTINGTON NORTH 138, 8. PLYMOUTH 134, 9. PIONEER 106, 10. TIPPECANOE VALLEY 87, 11. WABASH 58, 12. MANCHESTER 52, 13. WHITKO 12
200 medley relay: 1. CGA (Eberle Miller, Rory Byrne, Lauryn Robinson, Jaclyn Schutjer) 1:52.77, 2. Warsaw 1:55.03; 200 freestyle: 1. Miller (CGA) 2:01.37, 2. Cynthia Juarez (War) 2:04.52, 3. Josephine Schott (CGA) 2:06.84, 7. Layne Holloway (Ply) 2:12.36; 200 individual medley: 1. Byrne (CGA) 2:14.29, 2. Ashley Van Wormer (War) 2:22.21, 4. Betsy Whitfield (CGA) 2:28.39; 50 free: 1. Rebecca Yeoman (L) 25.64, 2. Robinson (CGA) 25.71, 3. Margot Rheinhardt (War) 26.34, 4. Schutjer (CGA) 26.43; Diving: 1. Quinn Bixler (R) 428.55, 2. Barbie Kimmel (TV) 292.70, 9. Katie Berg (Ply) 185.95, 11. Lauren Watts (CGA) 169.1; 100 butterfly: 1. Emily Clark (L) 1:05.23, 2. Sandberg (War) 1:08.36, 3. Anna Zaccaria (CGA) 1:09.12; 100 free: 1. Robinson (CGA) 56.41, 2. Yeoman (L) 56.70, 3. Schutjer (CGA) 58.12, 6. Holloway (Ply) 1:01.27; 500 free: 1. Juarez (War) 5:31.72, 2. Schott (CGA) 5:39.71, 6. Megan Senter (Ply) 5:58.06; 200 free relay: 1. CGA (Whitfield, Sarah Jamieson, Zaccaria, Robinson) 1:46.92, 2. Warsaw 1:47.88, 7. Plymouth (Holloway, Lexi Fetters, Lauren Page, Senter) 2:00.19; 100 backstroke: 1. Miller (CGA) 58.65, 2. Rheinhardt (Warsaw) 1:04.52, 3. Natalie Bittles (CGA) 1:06.97; 100 breaststroke: 1. Van Wormer (Warsaw) 1:07.75, 2. Jennifer Crawford (L) 1:08.76, 3. Byrne (CGA) 1:10.64, 5. Whitfield (CGA) 1:17.63; 400 free relay: 1. CGA (Zaccaria, Schutjer, Miller, Byrne) 3:47.84, 2. Warsaw 4:00.94.