TIGERS PODIUM THREE, CULVER TAKES THE CAKE
Ink Free News / Sports on Sunday, February 21, 2021
By Mike Deak
WARSAW – It was a tale of two cities for Warsaw swim coach Tony DeBrota. On one hand, he had three events win sectional championships and the potential of another event to be picked up for the IHSAA State Finals. On the other hand, the coach sat remotely and quietly after clearing out his office as Culver Academy celebrated breaking Warsaw’s 13-year sectional win streak.
“You have to take the wins with the losses,” DeBrota said. “There’s not much more you can do with that. The boys left all in the pool, and that’s what we ask of them. You have to give it to Culver, they brought the best swimmer here and did what they had to do. Now they’re celebrating in our pool.”
Looking at the positives, DeBrota noted the day Michael Ray had. The senior speedster capped a 1:39.70 win in the medley relay, anchoring with Cooper Archer, Ian Wihebrink and Nathan Taylor. Ray came back in the 50 freestyle and put on a good show with Northfield’s Grant Dale, the two apexing a field that saw Dale hit the pad at 21.40 and Ray at 21.89. The state cut is 21.21, giving Ray a shot at a pick up as an at-large for the state finals.
Ray would make it academic in the 100 freestyle, winning going away at 48.13 to log the automatic ticket in the event. All sectional champions earn automatic berths to the state finals next weekend.
Ray and the Tigers may be on the outside looking in for the 200 relay, posting a 1:30.81 but taking second to Culver Academy’s 1:29.63 championship.
Warsaw’s Wihebrink had a commanding win in the breaststroke, earning the blue ribbon with a 1:00.23 championship.
“Michael and Ian, we really didn’t rest them for the sectional meet, so we’re looking for high expectations down at state,” DeBrota said. “Medley relay, that was also kind of expected. I think we thought we might have more of a time drop than what we had, still not a top 10 in Warsaw school history.”
Culver Academy ended a baker’s dozen of seasons of everyone watching the Tigers jumping into the pool with the sectional trophy. This year, it was coach Joshua Brown and the Eagles’ turn.
With an overwhelming performance from Mitchell Schott, Culver got the juice it needed at the top and used some key placements down the line to pile up 408 points. Columbia City, which came into the day leading with 16 championship swims qualified, would take second with 359 points and Warsaw in third at 354.5.
Schott, a junior, obliterated his sectional record in the 200 freestyle with a 1:39.17, more than four seconds better than his 2019 time and a good 13 seconds better than the next swimmer. Not to be outdone, he went 4:31.66 in the 500 freestyle, smashing his 2019 record by 11 seconds. Schott did not swim in the Warsaw Sectional in 2020. The Culver curtain call was in the 400 free relay, the Eagles punctuating their championship with Schott touching the wall at 3:18.94 to finish off the victory.
Culver opened the day by having diver Reid Omilian win the event with a 452.05 series. Warsaw’s Jayce Sawyer was runner-up at 393.70, and along with Kadin Kelly of Rochester and Briceton Ellington of Cass, will all advance to the Valpo Diving Regional on Tuesday.
Wabash’s Seth Blossom was a two-event winner on the day, taking the individual medley at 1:59.55 and then flying to a 53.33 in the butterfly to highlight the day for the Apaches.
Tippecanoe Valley had Brandon Hoffman in the conversation for a pair of titles, placing second to Dale in the backstroke at 56.94 and taking third in the 100 free, posting 49.88. The Valley medley relay was third at 1:49.73 and 400 free relay was fourth at 3:36.30. Carson Parker was also in two championship finals, taking fourth in the breast and seventh in the IM.