WARSAW — The Indiana high school boys’ swimming and diving sectional at Warsaw started with a school record performance for the Columbia City Eagles and ended with Eagle swimmers qualifying for Saturday’s 9 a.m. finals in every event including several swimmers with legitimate shots at sectional titles.
In the evening’s first event the Columbia City 200-meter medley team of juniors Devin Moore and Cole Smith, sophomore Garrett Vandersaul and senior Kevin Hershberger set a new Columbia City record of 1:47.5 in qualifying second for the finals setting a tone for the evening’s competition.
“One of the things that we have been working really hard on the past couple of weeks is getting the kids to understand that they have to swim fast enough to compete,” Eagle head coach Phil Stanczak said. “If you looked at times, a number of boys weren’t in place to move on, but they swam beyond their best times and got themselves in the finals. For us that is a huge victory.”
Hershberger followed up the relay with a No. 1 seeding and another school record in the next to last event of the evening, the 100 breastroke. Hershberger clocked a time of 1:05.46 to take the top seed into the finals.
Cole Smith provides the Eagles with two more strong chances at a sectional title. Smith qualified in the second spot in both the 50 and 100 freestyle races.
The Columbia City junior swam the 50 in 22.43 seconds and covered the 100 in 50.28 seconds.
Fellow junior Kyle Mertz qualified seventh in the 100 freestyle while sophomore Garrett Vandersaul qualified seventh in the 50 freestyle.
The Eagles added another second-place qualification in the 200 freestyle relay. The Columbia City team of Hershberger, Smith, Vandersaul, and Kyle Mertz go into Saturday’s finals with a seed time of 1:35.76.
Hershberger will enter the finals of the 200 individual medley with the fourth fastest time. Hershberger posted a time of 2:15.10. In the same event, freshman Jared Mertz qualified 10th with a time of 2:28.02.
The Columbia City 400 freestyle relay team of Vandersaul, Kyle Mertz, Justin Moss and Tucker Daniel qualified fifth with a time of 3:47.91.
Junior Devin Moore qualified in two individual events to go with the opening relay. Moore qualified seventh in the 100 backstroke, covering the distance in a time of 1:04.12. Moore posted a time of 1:03.25, knocking four seconds off his seed time to qualify ninth in the 100 butterfly race.
In the same race, sophomore Foster Eber qualified eleventh in a time of 1:05.89.
Junior Tucker Daniel added two ninth-place qualifications. Daniel swam a time of 2:04.25 in the 200 freestyle and 5:42.44 in the 500 free. Kyle Mertz also qualified in the 200 free. Mertz qualified eleventh with a time of 2:08.25.