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The Journal Gazette

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Homestead's Riley Anderson practices for the state finals Tuesday at Summit Middle School. At state this week, Anderson will compete in the 50 freestyle, as well as all three relays.

Friday, February 23, 2018 1:00 am

Spartans stay even-keeled

Coach doesn't want them getting too high, low at state swim

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

if you go

What: IHSAA Boys Swimming/Diving State Finals

When: 6 p.m. today (prelims); 9 a.m. Saturday (diving prelims and semifinals), 1 p.m. (consolations and finals)

Where: Indiana University Natatorium (IUPUI), Indianapolis

Admission: $8 per session or $15 both days

Tickets: Unreserved tickets are $8 per session or $15 both days

Livestream: IHSAAtv.org

Swimming in the state championship meet, taking on the the best swimmers in Indiana at the enormous IU Natatorium in Indianapolis, can be an intimidating experience.

Homestead junior Julian Norman has been there before and that could give him a leg up for this year's competition.

“The first time you're at state, you're in this massive, massive pool with a lot of history in it and it's kind of overwhelming,” Norman said after Saturday's sectional, in which he posted state-qualifying times in four events. “(State) finals is a whole other beast because there's a lot more pressure on you there.

“So, finally (after swimming in the state finals) last year, I think I understand a little bit more, I'm a little more comfortable this year. I won't be as naive. I just think the experience lets me know what's coming, so I can better prepare myself mentally and physically.”

Norman placed fourth in the 200-yard freestyle as a sophomore and was part of Homestead's 200 free relay team that finished fourth in last year's state finals. He'll have a chance to improve upon those finishes this year, and he'll also compete in the 400 free relay and the 500 free, in which he set a South Side Sectional record of 4:36.16 on Saturday.

The state meet will take place over two days, with preliminary heats today, beginning at 6 p.m. The top 16 finishers in the prelims will swim Saturday, the top eight in the finals and 9-16 in the consolations.

Before he swims in the state meet for the third straight year, he finished 22nd in the 500 free as a freshman, Norman says there are aspects of his performance he wants to fine-tune, especially his turns.

“My turns have consistently been an issue,” he said. “Whenever you come to a new pool, what you use to spot your turn changes because, obviously, different pool, different setting. So (it's) just kind of getting used to, OK I'm here, I have to warm up and now I have to go flip. Just continue to get used to that, continue to get better at that.”

Norman is part of a large stable of Spartans that will compete in Indianapolis.

Senior Scott Hodson set a South Side Sectional mark with a 45.99 in the 100 free. He also qualified in the 50 free, but teammate Riley Anderson edged him for the sectional title with a 20.99 that was a tenth of a second faster than him. Sophomore Zachary Zishka finished second to Norman in the 500 free and the 200 free, qualifying for state in both.

Coach Justin Max, who has led his team to sectional titles in each of his first two seasons, said the Spartans would be training this week in an effort to ensure they don't “leave anything on the table.”

“It's an emotional 10-day stretch (from training for sectionals to the state meet),” Max said.

“So it's just making sure that when things go well we don't get too high and when things don't go the way we want them to, we don't get too low, because we got (a few) more days where we really gotta pace our emotions as well as our physical bodies to make we make it strong all the way to the end.”

South Side Sectional runner-up Carroll will also send a large contingent to state, including sophomore Tristan DeWitt, who set a sectional record in the 200 individual medley. Senior Jacob Miller of Snider qualified in both the 50 free and the 100 free.

dsinn@jg.net