PREP GIRLS SWIMMING: Concord upends Northridge, wins first sectional since 2017 | Sports

ELKHART — Saturday’s girls swimming sectional finals was expected to be a two-team battle between Concord and Northridge to see who would emerge victorious with sectional hardware.

That’s how it played out at the Elkhart Health and Aquatics Center, and this time, it was the Minutemen leaving with a trophy.

Concord scored 489 team points, edging the Raiders, who scored 473. It was the Minutemen’s first sectional championship since 2017 and snapped Northridge’s sectional winning streak at three years.

“Absolutely,” said Concord coach Tom Johnson when asked if it was sweeter to knock off Northridge to win the sectional championship. “We knew it was going to be a competitive meet. If you can’t get excited about that, where the lead kept changing — (Northridge) swam really well. Their breaststrokers were amazing, their divers were amazing. Their second-and-third swimmers in events really were amazing, too. Our hats off to them.”

Concord won nine of the 12 events, overcoming Northridge’s depth in some events to win their fifth sectional title in program history. Junior Grace Brenneman was a top performer for the Minutemen, as the Notre Dame commit won the 50-yard freestyle, the 100-yard freestyle and was on the 200-yard freestyle and 400-yard freestyle relay teams that won as well.

Brenneman wasn’t alone, though, as other Concord swimmers stepped up and had strong performances as well. Johnson highlighted a few of them after the meet.

“Two people I would really point out: Kiran Stauffer, who just swam with a lot of confidence,” Johnson said. “When you swim with a lot of confidence, good things happen. She came in (Saturday) morning for a wake-up swim and she was just loose, giggly and I had a really good feeling. That 200-freestyle win for her really set us in motion.

“And the other one people aren’t going to notice as much: Audrey Lantz swam three relays for us, coming off a pretty serious knee injury in soccer. We didn’t even know if we were going to have her, and she was just a relay star.”

The nine winners from Concord, along with any swimmers that make the state’s cutoff line, advance to next weekend’s state finals, which begin Friday at the IUPUI Natatorium in Indianapolis. No spectators will be allowed at Friday’s prelims or Saturday’s finals, but the events will be livestreamed online at the IHSAA’s website.

“We prepared for this and next week, thinking of it almost as one meet,” Johnson said. “We had to be good (Saturday) to get to next week. The state’s cutline is so hard that you almost have to win events to give you the best chance to make it there. So, we’re really proud of them. It was a great team effort.”

NORTHRIDGE FINISHES SECOND

The aforementioned depth of the Raiders in a couple of events kept them within striking distance of Concord all afternoon. Early in the morning, Northridge took the top three spots in the diving competition, as Jiselle Miller (530.95 points), Kaitlin Simons (526.35 points) and Mila Opacich (414.25 points) finished first, second and third, respectively.

Divers compete in regionals before going to the state meet. All three Northridge divers qualified for the Valparaiso diving regional Tuesday.

“That was great to watch … they’re doing great,” said Northridge coach Kyle Hembree of his divers. “Mila just came back from a broken arm — actually just got the cast off on Tuesday. So, to see her be able to perform and be up there, that was great. Looking forward to what they’re going to do here down the stretch.”

The Raiders also took the top three spots in the 100-yard breaststroke, as senior Anna Yeater (1:05.48), sophomore Tavia Bratt (1:06.73) and senior Hailey Clark (11:07.22) all made the three-person podium.

“We knew coming in, after seeing the entries, that we had that potential (to finished 1-2-3 in the breaststroke),” Hembree said. “Outside of (Friday) night, I kind of joked with them that I was planning on leaving with a 1-2-3. We didn’t talk about it really that much, though.”

The breaststroke was the second-to-last event of the day, which brought Northridge to within 10 points of Concord entering the 400-yard freestyle relay. The Minutemen would go on to win the relay, however, and win by 16 team points.


2021 ELKHART GIRLS SWIMMING SECTIONAL — INDIVIDUAL CHAMPIONS

All sectional swimming winners advance to next weekend’s state championship meet.

200-yard medley relay: Ella Lantz, Victoria Posthauer, Sophia Stutsman and Audrey Lantz, Concord, 1:46.22

200-yard freestyle: Kiran Stauffer, Concord, 1:52.24

200-yard individual medley: Anna Yeater, Northridge, 2:07.54

50-yard freestyle: Grace Brenneman, Concord, 23.31

100-yard butterfly: Sophia Stutsman, Concord, 56.82

100-yard freestyle: Grace Brenneman, Concord, 51.19

500-yard freestyle: Kiran Stauffer, Concord, 5:01.29

200-yard freestyle relay: Grace Brenneman, Audrey Lantz, Bella Sponseller and Kiran Stauffer, Concord, 1:36.67

100-yard backstroke: Ella Lantz, Concord, 56.28

100-yard breaststroke: Anna Yeater, Northridge, 1:05.48

400-yard freestyle relay: Kiran Stauffer, Audrey Lantz, Grace Brenneman and Ella Lantz, Concord, 3:29.71

1-meter diving: Jiselle Miller, Northridge, 530.95 points

Team standings: Concord 489, Northridge 473, Elkhart 256, Wawasee 249, Goshen 190, Angola 155, DeKalb 112, East Noble 97, NorthWood 88, Jimtown 63

Sectional coach of the year: Tom Johnson, Concord