Local Sports

Golden Bear swimmers chasing more records at IHSAA state championship meet

Prior to the New Palestine Sectional, Shelbyville head coach Coen Weiler had his sights set on erasing a pre-2000s relay record.

Juan Gonzalez-Gallego, Will Rife, Tyler Harker and Trey Carrell (photo, left to right) were the pre-race favorite in the 400-yard freestyle relay – the sectional’s final race.

The Golden Bear quartet couldn’t wait that long, though. They erased the 24-year-old 200 medley relay record, in the sectional’s first event, in a time of one minute, 41.06 seconds to earn a trip to the state finals.

Harker followed that performance mere minutes later in winning the 200 freestyle while Rife punched his ticket to the Indiana University Natatorium with a win in the 100 butterfly.

The last Golden Bear to compete in the state finals was Nolan Davis in 2018. Davis, currently swimming at Franklin College, was at the sectional championship on Feb. 19.

“I feel pretty good coming out of the sectional especially considering since its been a few years since anyone from Shelbyville has made it out,” said Harker. “There were a lot of expectations we had to live up to in recent years … we’ve had a lot of fast swimmers.

“Weiler is confident and we’re confident that we met a lot of those expectations, coming out with a lot of second-place finishes and a lot of top times.”



The Shelbyville program will be represented in three events Friday in the preliminary round of the IHSAA state championship meet in downtown Indianapolis. The top eight qualifiers in each event and the next eight fastest return Saturday for state championship and consolation races.

Qualifying for Saturday races in unlikely based on the seeding times. The Golden Bears’ relay is seeded 32nd in the 32-team field and Harker and Rife are both seeded 30th in their respective events.

The goal is two-fold then, according to Weiler. Break more records and perform once again to prove that the sectional wins were not a fluke.

“For the younger guys like Trey and Will and Andy Duffy (the relay team’s alternate), just to be there and be in that environment and get that experience so if we get there again next year we get rid of that ‘Ooh and Ahh’ factor,” said Weiler. “We need to get some experience being around that level of competition.”

Harker, the senior, is still focused on breaking Davis’s 200 freestyle record of 1:45.29. Harker won the sectional in 1:46.2.

“The goal is to get that record,” said Harker. “I was less than a second away (at the sectional).”

Gonzalez-Gallego also will compete as a Golden Bear for a final time. The junior is an exchange student from Malaga, Spain. He won the Hoosier Heritage Conference title in the 100 butterfly in December and finished second in the sectional to Rife, who went from the seventh seed pre-sectional to sectional champion.

“I didn’t expect Will to swim that fast,” said Gonzalez-Gallego. “I expected to swim faster than that but I am really happy for Will.”

Just a sophomore, Rife surprised himself with Saturday’s performances.

“It’s huge. Being a sophomore, there is a lot to look forward to … more records … getting faster, bigger and stronger,” he said.

Carrell, a junior, had no idea what happened after he touched the wall swimming the anchor leg for the relay.

“At first I didn’t realize we broke the record,” he said. “I didn’t know how much of a lead I had in front of everybody else. Tyler told me we broke the record and I was at a loss for words.”

Set in 1998 at 1:42.02, the new record holders shaved nearly a full second off that mark.

“The excitement after that was huge,” said Harker. “We had a lot of confidence that we had a chance to win it.”

All four had the opportunity to practice at the IU Natatorium Wednesday in preparation for Friday’s races.

The relay team will be in the first heat of the night, in lane 8 next to Floyd Central, who qualified at 1:40.08.

“We are going to go all out and hope for the best,” said Carrell. “Our goal is to try and get that record again.”

Harker also will swim in heat one of four in the 200 freestyle. He will be in lane 7 in between Concord’s Trevor Wiley (1:45.37) and Delta’s Eli Arnold (1:50.81).

“He is looking to hunt that record down,” said Weiler. “He will be in an outside lane with people to race and people to chase which will be good motivation for him.”

Rife also was assigned to heat one in the 100 butterfly. He is in lane 7 between Boonville’s Luke Pryor (53.01) and Tippecanoe Valley’s Marcus Smith (54.18).

“Having a huge drop like he did coming into the sectional, we will see what he has left for Friday,” said Weiler.

Racing starts Friday at 6 p.m.