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Boys swimming: Chesterton eyes state title repeat

Chesterton's Blake Pieroni looks board after swimming 200yd Freestyle setting DAC pool record 1:39.12 ChestertHigh School February 3 2014. |

Chesterton's Blake Pieroni looks at the board after swimming the 200yd Freestyle setting a DAC and pool record of 1:39.12 at Chesterton High School on February 3, 2014. | Jim Karczewski\for Sun-Times Media

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Updated: April 1, 2014 10:34AM



After a winter for the ages with a canceled invitational, missed practices and a conference meet on a Monday, Blake Pieroni is ready for the fun to begin.

“That’s my favorite part about swimming, watching my friends drop time,” the Chesterton senior said.

History suggests there will be some big drops for Pieroni’s teammates and for him too at the IHSAA boys swimming and diving state meet, which opens a two-day run Friday in Indianapolis.

The Trojans are aiming for their second straight team title and fourth in six seasons, led by a senior class that already owns 13 individual and relay first-place medals as well as three state-meet records.

Pieroni, who will swim at Indiana next season, and Aaron Whitaker, a Michigan recruit, lead the way.

Pieroni is the two-time defending champ in the 100-yard freestyle as well as the meet record-holder at 44.28 seconds. He’s seeded No. 1 in that event this season and fifth in the 200 individual medley (1:51.70), which he also won last season.

Whitaker is the top seed this weekend in both the 100 butterfly (48.73) and 100 backstroke (49.80), events which he won last year in meet-record times (47.33, 47.29).

Pieroni and Whitaker also were on the 400 free relay team that set a state-meet record fo 3:01.05 and returns intact this year (Ethan Whitaker and Patrick Curley are the other members) as the top seed (3:06.13).

All four members of last year’s state champ 200 medley relay team are back, this time as the fifth seed: Pieroni, Aaron Whitaker, Andy Hurst and Jack Wallar.

Impressive as those resumes are, they are no guarantee this weekend.

“Sectionals around the state were incredibly fast,” Chesterton coach Kevin Kinel said. “This is looking like it’s going to set itself up as the fastest state meet in history.”

Despite the weather-related disruptions — which Kinel called the worst in his 34 seasons at Chesterton — Pieroni likes where his team is at heading into its biggest meet of the season.

“Our coaches have been doing a really good job of getting people going to state in the right frame of mind,” Pieroni said. “The main focus is on the (team) state title.”

But there’s also other story lines to follow, including the last hurrah for a special senior class and its desire to pass the torch to the next generation, which includes individual state qualifiers Gary Kostbade, a freshman, and Josh VanNevel, a junior.

“I hope I know these guys for the rest of my life,” Pieroni said. “In four years of high school, we have developed really good friendships with each other.”

Another school heading to state with some high hopes is Munster. The Seahorses’ Wilson Beckman is seeded second to Aaron Whitaker in the backstroke, teammate Joey Gardner is the third seed in the 100 breaststroke, and both are members of Munster’s fourth-seeded 200 medley relay team.



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