Swimming photo

Shelbyville’s Will Rife (pictured) is one of seven swimmers available to compete in today’s sectional prelims. The meet begins at 5:30 p.m. today at New Palestine.

The Shelbyville boys’ swimming team will be shorthanded today when it travels to New Palestine for the sectional prelims.

The Golden Bears will be limited to seven swimmers as a result of the rest of the team unable to compete due to COVID-19.

“We’re going to try to show up and swim,” coach Coen Weiler said. “We still have a good shot with a few kids.”

Juniors Tyler Harker, Michael Fox and Lance File, sophomores Tristin Maloney, Manuel Sesma Perez and Elijah von Werder and freshman Will Rife will compete today with the hopes of qualifying for Saturday’s finals.

Weiler said he’s hoping the team can compete in every event despite being shorthanded.

“We’re really go to have to have boys step up to make that happen,” he said. “It’s just another punch we’re going to have to roll with and we’ve gotten pretty good with that this year.”

He said he spoke with the team members who are unable to participate and told them to use the disappointment as motivation.

“Sports are a great way to learn life lessons,” he said. “Swimming is unique in that sometimes you’re not swimming at your best all the time, but we still have to make sure to find ways to do what we need to do. I think we’ve done a really good job of that.”

The most disappointing aspect is that two seniors will not be able to compete for a final time, he added.

For those who are able to swim, Weiler was optimistic about Harker in the 100-yard and 200-yard freestyle. The junior is seeded third and fifth, respectively, in those events.

The goal going into the sectional is a top-three, “if not two-two” finish, Weiler said.

“He might be the most rested he’s been in his entire life,” he said.

Harker is one of four swimmers with a 100 freestyle seed time in the 51-second range. At 51.16 seconds, he’s seeded less than two seconds behind Mt. Vernon’s Brady Gray. And his seed time of 1:53.80 in the 200 freestyle clumps him with two other swimmers ahead of him.

He pointed to Rife in the 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard butterfly as possible standout events.

The freshman is seeded ninth in the 50 freestyle (24.09), just behind Eastern Hancock’s Aaron Surburg (24.02), putting him in position of a possible appearance in the sectional final. Likewise, he is seeded ninth in the 100 butterfly (1:01.58), less than a second behind Centerville’s Payton Elsrod (1:00.79).

Two weeks ago, while watching on a live stream of Shelbyville’s meet at New Palestine, which he was unable to attend, Weiler said he saw a lot of potential in Maloney in the 200-yard individual medley. That, and the 100-yard butterfly, could be standout performances for the sophomore.

File and Fox have “both come a long way,” Weiler said.

“Both get a chance to step up and show what they can do,” he said.

File is scheduled to compete in the 50 freestyle and 100-yard backstroke. Fox is scheduled to compete in the 200-yard individual medley and 100-yard breaststroke.

Sesma Perez will compete in the 100 butterfly and 100 freestyle; and von Werder will be in the 50 freestyle and 100 backstroke.

With swimmers out, Weiler had to shuffle his relay teams around.

The 200-freestyle team is seeded third using a goal seed time (1:35.58), which is just behind New Palestine’s seed time of 1:35.38. The 200-yard medley relay team is seeded fourth (1:47.25), a full two seconds behind Richmond.

And the 400-yard freestyle team is seeded seventh (3:56), almost nine seconds behind New Palestine.

“It’s frustrating but we’ve known this whole season it was a possibility,” Weiler said of losing members. “We’ve made sure to giving it our all all the entire time. We’re going to go next man up, be confident, be positive.”