Ashley Hill hardly could have been happier with the finish.
That was true of the entire Cathedral High School 2017-2018 boys swimming season, a season the Irish capped with a history-making performance to close Hill’s first season as the team’s coach.
“The boys season was fantastic,” Hill said.
The Irish closed their season with a sixth-place finish at the North Central Sectional held at North Central High School February 15. The Irish finished with 175 points behind champion North Central (478), Lawrence North (337.5), Franklin Central (277), Warren Central (200) and Shelbyville (185).
Hill said what mattered wasn’t as much the team finish as a slew of swimmers reaching individual goals in the meet.
“We have a small boys team in comparison to a lot of schools, so our dual meets – if you look at the results – don’t seem to be successful,” Hill said. “But the boys did fantastic.”
Hill said the season in one sense was defined by a core of seniors – Adam Jasiak, Sam Witchger, Matt Cline and Tommy Callaghan – who embraced leadership roles in a season of transition for the program.
“They did a fantastic job,” Hill said. “The four of those boys helped the younger guys step up and allowed them to have a really good dual-meet season and a really good sectional meet.”
Hill said the number of boys the Irish sent to sectional was the school’s highest in several seasons, and the performances at the meet were memorable with Jasiak turning what Hill called a “phenomenal sectional meet.”
Jasiak not only broke school records in the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle in the preliminaries, he re-broke both records in the finals. Jasiak also was part of school-record swims in the 200 medley relay and 200 freestyle relay.
“Four school records went down in that meet, which was pretty cool,” she said. “The guys definitely went into it focused on, ‘Can we leave a legacy on the board?’ They really wanted to put some records down on that board to show all the work they had put in over the last four years at Cathedral.”
Hill said Jasiak’s meet was particularly impressive. After narrowly missing qualifying for the state meet in the 100 free, he regrouped and keyed the record-setting 200 free relay.
“I was really proud of the way he handled himself after the 100 free,” Hill said. “He still had the 200 free relay to go. A lot of kids would have crashed and burned at that moment, and Adam really didn’t. He was happy with his performance and disappointed that he didn’t make state, but he said, ‘I’m ready to go for this relay; I’m going to go get the record.’
“He swam his fastest time on the relay as he had all season and helped those guys get the record, so that was pretty cool. It showed a lot of maturity from that young man.”
Jasiak finished sixth in the 50-yard freestyle in 22.60 and fourth in the 100 free in 48.44. The record-setting 200-yard medley relay team of Cline, Callaghan, Witchger and Jasiak finished fourth with a time of 1:41.34. The record-setting 200 free relay team of Cline, Callaghan, sophomore Sam Vander Missen and Jasiak finished fifth in 1:31.72.
The Irish had multiple swimmers turn in solid finishes at the sectional, including:
*Cline, who finished eighth in the 100 free in 50.52 and sixth in the 100 backstroke in 56.85.
*Callaghan, who finished 11th in the 100 butterfly in 59.53 and ninth in the 100 backstroke in 100.18.
*Witchger, who finished 12th in the 50 free in 23.56.
*Vander Missen, who finished 14th in the 200 individual medley in 2:18.58 and 11th in the 100 breaststroke in 108.83. “He had a great sectional,” Hill said.
*Sophomore Justin Pugh, who finished 10th in the 100 breaststroke in 108.81. “
The 400 freestyle relay team of freshman Jake Carlson, Witchger, Pugh and Vander Missen finished eighth in 3:42.85. Senior Bret Irving finished 11th at the sectional in the one-meter diving competition, finishing with a score of 217.
“The group of seniors who just came through did a great job of setting the table for some growth in the program,” Hill said. “They put it out there that Cathedral is a program to be reckoned with. We have some good, fast swimmers who are willing to work hard and train well. It’s becoming a stronger swim school. We hope that helps builds numbers on the boys’ side going forward.
“There is definitely room to grow on the boys’ side. As the reputation of the program changes, I think we’ll see our numbers grow. We have a group of kids returning who love the sport. They had a great season with each other, having fun and training hard and enjoying the sport, which is a big deal.
“I think that will continue to grow.”