The Chesterton boys swim team dominated foes from across the region and throughout the state last season. The Trojans won six of the 11 events in the state finals and established three new state records a season ago en route to their third state championship in the last six years. The team is loaded again, with Michigan recruit Aaron Whitaker and Indiana University bound seniors Blake Pieroni and Jack Wallar leading the way. The Trojans own 15 consecutive sectional championships, but that streak pales in comparison to the one Munster has put together.
The Seahorses have won their sectional 28 straight years, a state record for the most consecutive titles. Valparaiso, Crown Point and Portage will attempt to catch Chesterton atop the Duneland Athletic Conference this season, while Highland, Bishop Noll, Wheeler and Morton could all have solid years.
Northwest Indiana was well represented in the state meet last season as three schools nabbed spots in the top 10 with Chesterton coming in fifth, Crown Point sixth and Munster eighth. The Trojans have sophomore Vanessa Krause back, but were hit hard by graduation losses. The Bulldogs and Seahorses are expected to uphold their program traditions this season. Valparaiso and Lake Central will be competitive in the Duneland Athletic Conference, while Highland and Kankakee Valley join Munster in the upper echelon of the Northwest Crossroads Conference.
Stevan Micic of Hanover Central and Gelen Robinson of Lake Central will look to repeat as state champions in their respective weight classes this season. Both will wrestle in the Big Ten next year with Robinson headed to Purdue and Micic destined for Northwestern. Merrillville was the Northwest Indiana’s best team last season, finishing in ninth in the state meet after capturing a semistate championship. Crown Point won the DAC title by taking the conference meet after dropping the regular season meeting with Merrillville. Four Duneland schools won sectional titles a year ago with Chesterton and Portage joining the Pirates and Bulldogs with championship hardware. Merrillville, Portage and Crown Point all suffered graduation losses, but those three programs have enough returning talent to uphold their traditions of success. Lowell, Lake Central, Munster and Morton will be some of the area’s other strong teams.
On March 16, 170 miles away from Porter County, two Duneland Athletic Conference rivals battled it out for gymnastics state supremacy. Portage had upset Valparaiso in the dual meet between the two rivals, but the Vikings had bested the Indians in the DAC Meet, sectional and regional. However, it was Portage’s stars that shined the brightest in the state final, as all-around and floor champion Mackenzie Barcelli led the Indians over vault and bars champion Morgan Algozine and the Vikings 112.6-112.1. Algozine and Barcelli have both departed via graduation, but there is little doubt that the two state powerhouses will retool rather than rebuild. Madison Kurtz and Danielle Solis are back to lead the Indians, while the Vikings will have a young lineup with Emily Crosmer and Hannah Erwin joining Algozine in graduation.