Center Grove junior Kaiti Sullivan surprised veteran coach Jim Todd.
But it was a good kind of surprise.
Sullivan won the 100-yard breaststroke by shaving several seconds off her previous best to help the 20th-ranked Center Grove girls swimming and diving team win its 24th consecutive sectional title Saturday at Franklin.
Center Grove racked up 504.5 points, well ahead of second-place Franklin (355). The Trojans boasted two double individual winners in sophomore Caroline Sheehan (200 individual medley and 100 backstroke) and freshman Emily Saugstad (50 freestle and 100 freestyle).
But for all the impressive Center Grove swims, Sullivan’s stood out.
“She’s really worked hard this past year, from the end of last year to now,” Todd said. “And I will say that I was a little bit surprised with her time, quite a drop.”
How big was the drop? Her previous best was her sectional preliminary time of 1:11.36 she swam Thursday.
“That’s why I’m saying we were a little bit surprised,” Todd said.
Sullivan won the 100 breaststroke in 1:06.48, outpacing Franklin senior Mikayla Carroll, who took second in 1:07.09, breaking a 12-year old school record.
Carroll was just 0.12 seconds off the state cut qualifying time, but Franklin coach Zach DeWitt said he thinks she’ll get the call back to state.
In other impressive swims, Saugstad had quick times in the 50 free (0:23.95) and the 100 free (0:51.86). Her 100 free time broke the Franklin pool record.
“She’s young, and she’s got some room to grow and get better,” Todd said. “Those were very good swims out of her today. Pretty impressive.”
And Todd was also pleased with Sheehan and the entire team.
“(Sheehan has) worked so hard this year, and it really paid off, especially in the IM,” he said. “She looked really good today. I’m just very pleased.
“You look at the girls all day and smiles everywhere.”
Center Grove also swept the three relays. Sophomore Maddie Gordon won her second consecutive diving sectional title with a score of 461.35, and senior Mikaela Saugstad won the 500 free.
“(Gordon) is a stud and very, very humble,” Todd said. “She works hard, very hard. And she’s talented.”
For Franklin, sophomore Kelsey Harper took first in the 200 free.
“I’d say that (Harper) is probably the biggest gamer on our team,” DeWitt said. “She loves to race. She loves competition. When it was a close race at the 150 (yard) wall, I knew that she’d probably be excited for that last 50. And she tore it up and brought in the legs on the last 50 and really put the hammer down.”
Perry Meridian junior Deanna Ford took first in the 100 butterfly.
Whiteland senior Kylie Mynatt and freshman Jorden Wood, along with Center Grove freshman Rachel Smallwood, will join Gordon at the diving regional, which is at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Bloomington North.
The State Finals begin at 6 p.m. Friday at the Indiana University Natatorium on the campus of IUPUI in Indianapolis.
In the team standings, Greenwood was fourth (185), Whiteland was fifth (160), and Indian Creek was seventh (133).
Greenwood coach Chas Grimm won Coach of the Year honors