JASPER

It’s a golden generation of boys swimmers at Jasper.

They’re on the cusp of their final sectional meet and a shot at a fourth straight plaque.

That has never been accomplished in school history.

First, the boys and girls teams slayed the tri-meet with Pike Central and Heritage Hills on Thursday on senior night.

The boys had 172 points for a 100-point margin.

The girls scored 150 to top the Pats by 34.

Nine seniors put the program back on the map with annual results: Luke Dawkins, Abe Eckman, Gabe Schmitt, Noah Wagner, Jackson Henke, Isaiah Moss, Reid Harmon, Evan Mehringer and Connor Nolan.

“Everyone is so encouraging,” Nolan said. “People say swimming is kind of an individual sport. You get in your race, but I feel like you wouldn’t get where you were without your team.”

The last time the Cats 3-peated was 2014-2016. Since this class jumped into the pool, it’s been on a trajectory to surpass that.

“Our freshman year, it was just heavy with freshmen,” Nolan said. “Sophomore year, it was mostly sophomores. Every year there’s so many of us dominating.”

As juniors, the squad went undefeated, Nolan said.

Coach Kristen Gutgsell discerned its potential with quality and quantity from the get-go.

“It’s obviously bittersweet,” Gutgsell said. “There’s been a group of them swimming since they were little guys. They’ve been swimming a long time. Not all of them made it through to the end, but the majority of them did, and we picked up a few along the way.”

Nolan said the veterans have developed a close bond and with alumni and younger swimmers.“I feel like as the years progress our class has gotten closer and closer with each other,” Nolan said. “Before COVID, we did a lot of hangouts after big meets. We’d go to someone’s house and hang out.”

Their recreational activities include water polo and sharks and minnows.

In contrast, the girls have three swimmers and two divers graduating this spring: Avery Henke, Andi Vanmeter, Megan Matheis, Avery Knies and Hannah Seifert.

This class could be considered a golden generation, but the program is at an all-time high.

The Wildcat girls have won 14 sectionals since 2007. This contingent seeks four in a row — hasn’t been done since 2017.

“I feel like (we’ve) gotten closer a lot, especially with our class, as it’s gone on,” Matheis said. “There’s not a time when we’re not around each other during swim season.”

A staple for this contingent has been hair dying. Matheis hosted when her older sister, Madison, was at Jasper.

The ritual will ensue at her house this year.

It’s all a part their meshing in and out of the pool.

“We definitely get to joke around a lot more because we know each other’s personalities better so it’s not like you’re in the room with a bunch of random people,” Matheis said.

She recalled sitting on edge of the pool with her team cheering on teammates.

Big and small, the boys and girls teams will leave a void.

“It was just that timeframe we didn’t have a lot of girls coming through at that point in time that didn’t join the team,” Gutgsell said. “There’s ebbs and flows. The boys team, unfortunately, is going to be a little bit smaller because we are losing (nine). I’ve got a crop of eighth-grade (boys) coming in, but not nine.”