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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, February 11, 2017 5:40 pm

Homestead's Johnson gets 2nd, 4th in state swimming

MARK AMBROGI | For The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS — For Homestead senior Megan Johnson, it was a bit difficult for her to articulate how pleased she was with her showing in Saturday’s state high school girls swimming and diving finals.

"I’m beyond words, I’m so excited," Johnson said. "It’s an amazing field of athletes and I’m really happy with how I did."

The Purdue-bound Johnson finished second in the 100-yard freestyle in 50.16 and fourth in the 200 freestyle in 1:49.50 at the IU Natatorium at IUPUI. Carmel won the girls state title for 31st consecutive year. Carroll placed seventh and Homestead 11th in the team standings.

"What I really wanted to work on was getting out faster than I was in the prelims and being aggressive off of the blocks," Johnson said of 100 freestyle showing.

Johnson had personal bests in the 100 and 200 free in the finals.

"We had a new coach this year (Justin Max) who helped us with our weight training and our strength," Johnson said. "His coaching has been phenomenal so I’m glad I got to swim for him this year."

Max said the finish was a reflection of how hard Johnson worked this year.

"I think the weight training benefited her in the 100 getting a little more speed," Max said. "She worked hard this year going out that first 50 (yards) with everyone else."

Homestead sophomore Jackie Brenn, the defending state champion, placed second in the 1-meter driving with a score of 528.35. Hamilton Heights senior Ivy Houser won with 535.80.

"I’m happy with how I dove because Ivy is a really good diver," said Brenn, who was the first freshman to win a state title in diving in 2016. "It was a really good opportunity to dive against her. I thought my entries were really good."

Brenn was joined on the platform by teammates Mallory Walker, a sophomore, in fifth and Kayla Luarde, a junior, in eighth.

"That was pretty amazing," Brenn said. "We really support each other a lot."

Spartans diving coach Jill Eakright said it was the first time the program had three divers place in the top eight.

"It’s awesome," she said. "These girls have worked really hard and overcome injuries along the way. The scores were real tight. My three girls were consistent on their take-offs and they lining up. That’s what you need it this meet. There is no room for error. They put the best foot forward and they were comfortable in this environment (Saturday)."

Walker said Brenn’s state title last year was a motivation for all the divers.

"It definitely pushed us in practice and set a standard," Walker said.

Carroll senior Abigail Johnston turned in a pair of fifth-place finishes in the 50 freestyle (23.62) and 100 butterfly (55.27).

"She medaled in all four of her events so it was a really good day for her," Carroll coach John Gibson said.

Johnston joined sophomore Avery Brooks and freshmen Mya VanderHagen and Mallory Jackson on the Chargers’ second-place 400 freestyle relay team. Carroll was sixth in the 200 freestyle relay (1:36.05).

"The four of them decided that was their goal to get state runner-up (to Carmel) and all going for best times," Gibson said. "We talked about it before it didn’t matter how much it hurt the last 25 (yards), you just got to put your head down and get to the wall. Johnston tied our school record leading off the relay and then our relay time was over 2 seconds under our school record (3:26.52). It was a good end of the day. The last relay we had two freshmen and a sophomore so the future looks good."

Johnston said she felt relaxed in her 50 free and 100 butterfly.

"I just got out and swam as fast as I could," said Johnston, who will swim for University of Cincinnati next year. "I like the 50 free the best because I think it’s less stressful. The 100 fly gives me a lot of anxiety."

Finishers in the consolation finals were Carroll’s Jackson (ninth, 200 IM, 2:03.01; 10th,100 backstroke, 56:43); Carroll senior Abigail Young (11th, 100 butterfly, 56.52) and Snider senior Jordyn Polderman (12th, 100 free, 52.21).

Carroll’s 200 medley relay was 12th in 1:46.98 and Homestead’s 400 free relay was 12th in 3:32.54.