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Bulldogs split win with Eastern Comets

By AARON KENNEDY - akennedy@ftimes.com

In what may be a preview of next month’s conference meet, the Clinton Central boys’ swimming and diving team beat the Hoosier Heartland Conference rival Eastern Comets, 131-43, while the Central girls lost 110-69 Tuesday night at Michigantown.

In what may be a preview of next month’s conference meet, the Clinton Central boys’ swimming and diving team beat the Hoosier Heartland Conference rival Eastern Comets, 131-43, while the Central girls lost 110-69 Tuesday night at Michigantown.

“Their girls won the conference last year, and our boys won the conference last year, so it kind of turned out the same way,” Clinton Central head coach Ken Jones said. “Two years ago, they beat (our girls) by about the same amount and we came back to beat them in the conference, so don’t count them out yet.

“We only have 10 girls, and thy have 34,” Jones added. “When you go 10 versus 34, it is pretty tough because we got back-to-back-to-back, and they have time to rest. Plus, they have three girls in every event, and sometimes we can only put one in an event. So, that kills us.”

The night was capped by a pair of highlights for the Bulldogs.

In the final race, the young Clinton Central 400-yard freestyle relay team of John Dunn, Owen Smith, Colton Payne and Erik McCarty gave Bulldogs fans a glimpse of what is to come by setting a new Clinton Central freshmen record with a time of 3 minutes and 57.32 seconds.

“That is neat for the boys,” Jones said. “It was the first time I let them try for it, and they got it. I had told them that I don’t know how many opportunities they will have. They went for it, and they got it.”

They finished in second place, just 1.52 seconds behind the veteran Clinton Central relay team of Corey Niemann, Mitchell Ferrell, Aidan Hendrickson and Kaleb Boone (3:55.80)

“That is a good little rivalry there because our older veteran can’t relax,” Jones said. “They have a group of freshmen kids who are pushing them and chomping on their heels. That is what you need to have a great team. This is a great opportunity for our kids because we have good young and good old.”

One race before those Bulldog freshmen set a new school record, the Clinton Central girls’ 400 freestyle relay team of Mollie McDaniel, Kailie Burnette, Kylie Gilmore and Brogan Sheets came from behind to beat Eastern’s top team with a time of 4:27.34.

“Our girls swam well,” Jones said. “The last relay was a lot of fun, so it will be good to see what happens come conference time.

“She hates to lose,” Jones said of Sheets. “She is a good one to have going last because she will give it all she has to try to win.”

Also winning for the Bulldogs in the girls’ meet were the 200 medley relay team of Burnette, Bailey Deardorff, McDaniel and Sheets (2:12.25), Burnette in the 200 individual medley (2:40.75) and 100 backstroke (1:12.03) and Sheets in the 50 freestyle (26.71), and 100 freestyle (58.37).

Helping the Bulldogs dominate the boys’ meet by winning events were the 200 medley relay team of Hendrickson, Owen Smith, Lane Laughner and Boone (1:57.03), Niemann in the 200 freestyle (2:02.53) and 500 freestyle (5:38.02), Hendrickson in the 200 IM (2:22.31) and the 100 backstroke (1:02.49), Erik McCarty in the 50 freestyle (24.94) and the 100 butterfly (1:02.92), Kaleb Boone in the 100 freestyle (58.46) and the 100 breaststroke (1:21.87) and the 200 freestyle relay team of Ferrell, Laughner, Niemann and Dunn (1:47.16).

Jones was left impressed by the improvement shown by many of his youngest swimmers, such as freshman Austin Orem, who placed fourth in the 50 freestyle with a time of 33.48 and fourth in the 100 freestyle at 1:14.44. He also joined Payton Bray, Kyle Meager and Smith in taking second place in the 200 freestyle relay (2:00.29).

“This is (Orem’s) first year he has ever tried swimming,” Jones said. “I talked him into coming out, and he was hesitant on it. A couple times, I thought we were going to have to jump in and save him on the first day. But, he has progressed, and now he is placing in the meets. So, that is real exciting for a kid like that who has never swam before. He is listening and working on the things he needs to do.”

Jones was also glad to see his swimmers post good times despite taking part in a very tough practice the day before.

“We are working really hard,” he said. “I gave them a really hard practice yesterday. It is hard to practice when you have three meets in a week, but we are going to work hard through these meets. We are going to just keep going at it. Regardless what happens in the meet, we are going to work hard in practice so we are good at the end of the year.”

The Bulldogs host the Carroll Cougars starting at 6 p.m. today, and they have their Clinton Central Invitational scheduled to start at 9 a.m. Saturday.