There likely will be two tiers of competition at this weekend’s state boys swimming and diving meet: Carmel, and everyone else.
Franklin doesn’t yet have the depth to hang with the Greyhounds this year — no one does — but it feels like it has a shot to be the best among everyone else.
The Grizzly Cubs are represented in every event, including diving, and they have several individuals and relays capable of putting up big points.
Additionally, most of the Franklin swimmers weren’t shaved or fully tapered for last week’s sectionals, so there’s plenty left in the tank for tonight and Saturday.
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“I feel like everybody’s got an extra gear that they saved,” senior Michael Couet said, “and that it’s going to come out Friday when everybody’s shaved and tapered and suited.”
Also looking to make a big impact this weekend is Indian Creek, which is shooting for a top-20 team finish. Leading the charge will be senior Tucker Brock, who is a top-five seed in the 100-yard butterfly. He and freshman Mac Ratzlaff are swimming in four events, including the Braves’ two relays.
The top eight in each swimming event at tonight’s prelims will earn spots in Saturday’s finals, while those finishing ninth through 16th will still be able to pick up team points in consolation finals.
Diving preliminaries and semifinals take place Saturday morning.
A look at each event and how Johnson County’s representatives stack up against the competition (all swim times are from last weekend’s sectionals; diving scores are from Tuesday and Wednesday’s regionals):
200 medley relay
Local qualifiers: Franklin (sixth, 1:33.71); Indian Creek (21st, 1:37.49)
Outlook: Carmel appears to have loaded up its lineup, and it should threaten the state record. After the Greyhounds, Franklin and Zionsville have consistently been the best in this event during the season. The Grizzly Cubs have been strong enough that coach Zach DeWitt feels comfortable going without top swimmer Jacob Destrampe, leaving the junior fresh for a title run in the next event.
Local qualifiers: Destrampe, Franklin (second, 1:40.14); Ratzlaff, Indian Creek (18th, 1:43.15); Brenden Gough, Whiteland (23rd, 1:43.65)
Outlook: Destrampe was the runner-up last year when Carmel’s Drew Kibler set a national public high school record in the event; with Kibler swimming the 50 freestyle and the butterfly this year, an individual victory is within reach. The Greyhounds’ Jacob Mitchell, who had the top sectional time by more than two seconds, figures to be Destrampe’s top challenger. Both Ratzlaff and Gough were within a second of the top 16, so advancing to Saturday and scoring is a reasonable goal for both.
200 individual medley
Local qualifier: Cade Oliver, Franklin (17th, 1:54.35)
Outlook: Zionsville’s Andrew Schuler is seeded sixth but is still the probable favorite after finishing third in 2017; no returning swimmer was within three seconds of him at state last year. Oliver, a freshman, is expected to be in contention for a podium finish in his state debut.
Local qualifiers: Couet, Franklin (21st, 21.46); Brock, Indian Creek (27th, 21.52); Max Kramer, Franklin (31st, 21.58)
Outlook: Most likely, this race will come down to a highly anticipated showdown between Carmel’s Kibler and Zionsville’s Jack Franzman, the two best high school sprint freestylers in America. Because just a few hundredths of a second can make a difference of several places, predicting the rest of the order of finish is mostly a crapshoot; any of the three locals could advance to Saturday or be left out.
Local qualifier: Gauge Creech, Franklin (11th, 436.75)
Outlook: Fresh off of a regional championship, Creech is looking to put himself on the podium after finishing ninth at state last year. While it’s tough to size up the field on regional scores because the judges differed from site to site, defending champion Isaac Khamis of Richmond (596.60), Aiden Werner of Pike (585.45) and Cole VanDevender of Fishers (577) are considered the heavy favorites. They head up a group of five returning divers that finished ahead of Creech last year.
Local qualifiers: Brock, Indian Creek (fifth, 50.18), Griffin Edwards, Franklin (25th, 51.91)
Outlook: Kibler is the odds-on favorite, but the battle behind him should be interesting, with not much time separating the rest of the top nine. A high finish for Brock here would get the Braves more than halfway toward locking up a spot in the top 20 teams. Edwards will have the disadvantage of being in the slowest heat tonight, but the top 16 still is within reach.
Local qualifiers: Destrampe, Franklin (fifth, 46.01); Brock Lock, Franklin (15th, 46.87)
Outlook: This race will be Franzman’s to win, but the competition is wide open behind him. Three other podium finishers from last year are back in this event, and Destrampe figures to be in the mix with that group for a top-five finish. Lock is in good position to advance to Saturday, but there is little margin for error; 15 swimmers behind him had sectional times within half a second of his.
Local qualifiers: Oliver, Franklin (10th, 4:39.21); Ratzlaff, Indian Creek (17th, 4:44.11)
Outlook: As with the individual medley, expect Oliver to make a pretty sizable time drop and contend for a medal here. All of the top three finishers in this event last year (including Destrampe) are out of the way; Carmel’s Mitchell, fourth last year as a freshman, becomes the new favorite. Ratzlaff, who obliterated Indian Creek’s school record at the sectional, has a chance to earn points.
200 freestyle relay
Local qualifier: Franklin (sixth, 1:25.86)
Outlook: Aside from Destrampe in the 200 free, this might be the Grizzly Cubs’ best shot at winning an event. Franklin earned a top-six seed and broke the school record without Destrampe in the lineup at sectional, and with less than a second separating the top seven seeds, his addition could put the team over the top. Carmel, Zionsville and Homestead are all contenders — but the Greyhounds did not put Kibler on their roster for this event, leaving a window open for everyone else.
Local qualifier: Edwards, Franklin (25th, 53.17)
Outlook: Edwards finished 14th in this event a year ago, and if he has enough left in the tank to drop a second from his sectional time he could get there again. Wyatt Davis of Carmel, who won this event as a freshman in 2017, is the heavy favorite, with Fort Wayne Carroll’s Noah Yarian probably the top challenger.
Local qualifier: Couet, Franklin (third, 56.38)
Outlook: A 14th-place finisher a year ago, Couet already has dropped more than two seconds from his state time of a year ago, and the expectation is that he can knock off even more tonight. Andrew Couchon and Stefano Batista of Carmel were well ahead of the pack in terms of sectional times, but if Couet has that much left in the tank, he might have a puncher’s chance to pull the upset.
400 freestyle relay
Local qualifiers: Franklin (13th, 3:12.09); Indian Creek (25th, 3:14.78)
Outlook: The addition of Destrampe to this quartet should give the Grizzly Cubs a chance to move up and possibly battle the likes of Zionsville, Chesterton and Fort Wayne Carroll for position on the podium — but it’s unlikely that anyone will touch Carmel, who will again be competing more against the state record time than against the other teams in the water. This event should determine the overall order of team finish from second on down, so there’s going to be a lot at stake.
IHSAA State Finals
At Indiana University Natatorium, IUPUI
Swimming preliminaries, 6 p.m.
Diving preliminaries, 9 a.m.
Swimming and diving finals, 1 p.m.
Tickets: $8 per day or $15 for both days