Saturday, February 24, 2018

Bluebirds Finish Third at State Swimming, Diving Meet

Murphy Wins One-Meter Dive Crown

Contributed Photo. The Highlands Swimming and Diving Team took third at the State Meet in Louisville over the weekend.
The Highlands Bluebirds boys swimming and diving team concluded a great season with a third-place finish at the state meet Saturday.

The Bluebirds scored 154 points in the meet at the Ralph Wright Natatorium on the University of Louisville campus. Louisville St. Xavier won its 30th consecutive state championship with 453 points and Lexington Catholic finished state runner-up with 229 points. Louisville Trinity finished fourth with 152 points. The Highlands Combined Team finished sixth.

"They did awesome," said Amanda Johnson, Highlands Head Coach. "I think we shocked some people. We went from 16th last year for the boys to third this year. That's crazy. That's a lot of places. The state meet gets faster and faster every year. I'm so proud of the kids. It was a great day."

Sophomore Finn Murphy won the one-meter diving championship with 452.6 scoring 20 points for the Bluebirds. He finished runner-up in the 7th Region meet.

"There's always a level of anxiousness or nervousness throughout the whole meet and everyone deals with them in their own way," Murphy said. "For me, I tried to take my mind off of it by socializing with the other divers. I've learned that if you focus too much on your next dive, you'll sometimes end up overthinking, which can lead to even more stress. As I'm setting up for my next dive on the board, I calm myself down by taking deep breaths to help clear my mind so that when I do the dive, I rely on my muscle memory. It's important to to use trial and error to see what works best for you."

Murphy had finished runner-up in the Region 7 Meet behind St. Henry freshman Aidan Stigall. He finished state runner-up last year with a finals score of 389.35.

"After the meet, I couldn't have been more excited by the final outcome," Murphy said. "I'm glad to represent my team in such a way. It also felt great after all the training and hard work I've put in to see it pay off in the end. I wouldn't be where I am today without the help and support from my coach Bernie Brungs (Highlands Diving Coach) and of course, my mom and dad."

Highlands senior swimmer Garrison Herfel had not been beaten all season in individual races or on relay teams until the state meet. Herfel finished fourth in the 50-yard Freestyle in 20.95 seconds scoring 15 points for the Bluebirds and took fifth in the 100 Freestyle in 46.5 seconds to score 14 points. His 50 Free time is good enough for All-American consideration.

Herfel also helped the 200 Free Relay team finish third in one minute, 26.32 seconds to score 32 points and the 400 Relay team finish fourth in 3:12.14 to score 30 points. Other members of both free style relay teams were junior Brenden Conley and freshmen Will Griffith and Mac Russell.

"I couldn't be happier with either (individual and team performances)," Herfel said. "I am happy we got third overall. That's something I never really expected. I didn't get a best time in the 100 free, which I thought I was going to. But it was still a school record and still placed pretty well. My goal for the 50 was just to go under 21 (seconds). I did that."

Conley finished seventh in the 200 Free in 1:43.45 to score 12 points. He also took seventh in the 500 Free in 4:44.17 to also score 12 points.

The Highlands 200 Medley Relay team finished 11th in 1:41.02 to score 12 points. Members of that team are Griffith, freshman Jack Banks, junior Matthew Lorenz and junior Jake Ryan.

Banks took 10th in the 100 Breaststroke in 58.82 seconds. That scored seven points for Highlands.

On the girls' side, Highlands finished 20th with 25 points. Louisville Sacred Heart won its sixth straight state championship with 520.5 points.

Sophomore Caroline Sand had a hand in all 25 points for the Bluebirds. She put the Bluebirds on the board finishing seventh in the 200 Free in 1:53.96. That was good for 12 points for the Bluebirds. She then finished eighth in the 100 Free in 52.47 to score 23 points total in those two events.

"She is the first girl swimmer I've had in the top 8 since I've been at Highlands," Johnson said of Sand. "They've been in relays in top eight. We've had (2015 Highlands graduate) Carly Hill and Abby Weyer in the top eight in diving."

Sand was also a member of the 16th-place 200 Free Relay team that scored two points for the Bluebirds in 1:43.91. The other members are sophomore Tori Sutkamp, sophomore Rachel Moscona and eighth-grader Evia Combs.

The Highlands boys own five state championships in school history. The last one came in Class AA in 1968. The Highlands girls have won 12. Their last crown came in 1974 in Class AA.

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