by Beau Wicker
Logansport has two sophomore girls swimmers that are repeat North Central Conference champions.
Becca Yeoman and Jennifer Crafford will lead the Berries into tonight’s sectional preliminaries in Warsaw. The consolation and finals are on Saturday. Cass and Pioneer will also compete at the Warsaw Sectional.
A first-place finish on Saturday will equal a trip to the state finals. Logansport hasn’t had a state finalist in girls swimming since Peyton Zehner swam in her fourth straight state finals two years ago. She now swims at IUPUI.
“Rebecca Yeoman has a very good chance of winning one of her events, maybe two,” Logan coach Heidi Hendricks-Knight said. “Jen has a chance, she needs to drop some time. I think our medley relay will do well, too.”
The 200-yard medley relay team consists of Yeoman, Crafford, senior Ashley Fawcett and junior Emily Clark.
“They have a shot. There’s about three or four teams that are about a second apart,” said Hendricks-Knight, who added Clark also has a chance of advancing in an individual event. Clark finished runner-up in the 100 butterfly at the NCCs.
Yeoman swept NCC titles in the 50 and 100 freestyle events. She was a repeat winner in the 100 free. Her winning times this year were 25.25 seconds in the 50 free and :54.14 in the 100 free.
“It’s really cool to be able to experience it just as a sophomore and coming back again and winning,” Yeoman said of repeating as an NCC champ.
Yeoman finished second in the 50 free in the NCCs a year ago.
“Last year I slipped off the block. Yeah, it was bad,” she said.
Yeoman did not compete in the sectional prelims a year ago due to an illness.
Culver Academy senior Lauryn Robinson is the defending sectional champion in both the 50 and 100 free. Yeoman and Robinson swam against each other earlier this season.
“I beat her in the 50, but she beat me in the 100. We’re right there with each other. I might need to drop a little bit,” Yeoman said.
Yeoman, at 5-foot-10, has good height which is especially an advantage for sprinters. She plays volleyball for the Berries in the fall.
Yeoman talked about swimming for Hendricks-Knight, who was the first eight-time state champion in state history as a swimmer for the Berries. Eight individual state titles in swimming is the maximum one can win.
“It’s tough, especially when she yells at me every day. She knows that we can be really good if we put in the effort,” Yeoman said. “She knows we can definitely swim in college, so she’s just trying to get us better and be able to go there.”
Crafford repeated her NCC title in the 100 breaststroke for the Berries. She swam a 1:10.27 to get the win this year.
“I started out the season with my best time, but I haven’t got it since. But I’m confident I will get it at sectionals with taper and I’m mentally good, so I think it will be there,” Crafford said.
Crafford finished more than two seconds behind Warsaw’s Ashley VanWormer in the 100 breast at last year’s sectional. VanWormer returns as a junior.
“I got second last year, and the girl went from a 1:11 to a 1:09 at the sectional,” Crafford said. “She started out the season with a 1:09, so she’s quite a bit ahead of me, but if I don’t go to state and I get my best time, I won’t be upset.”
Crafford also has good height and is 5-foot-11. She has chosen swimming over basketball in high school.
“I’ve been swimming since I was 4, and it was a real hard decision to choose swimming over basketball,” she said. “People are still constantly trying to get me to play basketball. I do miss it a lot, but maybe I can play just club, I don’t think I’ll switch over to high school.”
Crafford is also a standout distance runner in track and was a starter for Logansport’s 26-win volleyball team last fall. She chose volleyball over cross country this year and will have another decision to make coming up.
“It’s going to be a hard decision, but I’m going to try to work hard at both and see what I can get good at,” she said.
Hendricks-Knight said both Yeoman and Crafford have displayed a good work ethic this season.
“They work hard and have done well. I just hope they keep going. Swimming is one of those sports you kind of have to do year round,” she said.