Five or six months ago, the Franklin boys swimming and diving team started talking about placing as high as second at this year’s state meet.
Whether or not the Grizzly Cubs actually believed that was a realistic goal at the time doesn’t really matter. On Saturday, they made it a reality.
Led by junior Jacob Destrampe, who began his day by winning the first individual state swimming championship in school history and followed with three runner-up finishes, Franklin found itself holding up a trophy at the IU Natatorium, savoring a second-place finish that felt like first.
[sc:text-divider text-divider-title=”Story continues below gallery” ]
“When we set those goals, it was kind of a joke at first,” said senior Michael Couet, who placed second in the 100-yard breaststroke and was part of two medal-winning relays. “And we kept saying them over and over again until people started to take us seriously — and we started to take ourselves seriously.
“And I think it just goes to show that if you set a goal for yourself, no matter how ridiculous it may seem, if you hold yourself to that standard you’ll be surprised what you get.”
The Grizzly Cubs’ banner day got started when the foursome of Cade Oliver, Couet, Griffin Edwards and Max Kramer took fifth in the 200 medley relay. Destrampe followed with his victory in the 200 freestyle, and he and his teammates just kept the momentum going throughout the rest of the meet.
“We definitely gave each other an emotional lift,” Destrampe said. “Everyone was super excited. We had the (200) medley relay, which was great, a good relay, and then the (200) free, and then Cade’s (200 individual medley). And it just all added up on top of each other, and it just turned out to be a great day.”
Destrampe finished second to Zionsville’s Jack Franzman in the 100 freestyle, with teammate Brock Lock placing sixth. The junior later led off Franklin’s 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams, both of which finished second.
Oliver capped a stellar freshman season by joining Destrampe with four state medals. In addition to swimming on the medley relay and 400 freestyle relay, he finished seventh in the 500 freestyle and eighth in the 200 IM.
Though he undoubtedly has bigger individual days ahead, the rookie won’t soon forget his first state meet.
“This meet will always be the best thing in my life,” he said, “because everyone who’s around me just made the atmosphere feel so good.”
Junior diver Gauge Creech provided Franklin with a big lift in the middle of the meet, moving up a spot from last year to earn his first podium finish. He wound up eighth with a score of 447.90.
Also earning a state medal on Saturday was Indian Creek senior Tucker Brock, who was eighth in the 100 butterfly with a time of 50.49 seconds.
The Braves wound up 33rd in the team standings with the 11 points that Brock earned in that race.
State champion Carmel (417 points) was well out of everyone’s reach, so the real drama Saturday was the race for second — and armed with an eight-point lead over third-place Zionsville heading into the final event, Franklin killed any suspense when the 400 free relay team of Destrampe, Oliver, Lock and Kramer finished second.
Kramer, who anchored all three Franklin relays, said the Grizzly Cubs knew they didn’t need to gamble in the 400, but they still kept it in high gear all the way to the wall.
“We played it just like it was any other day, and it paid off,” he said.
It was not, however, like any other day. The best previous finish for the Franklin boys at the state meet came last year, when it finished 10th with 102 points. This year’s team blew that out of the water, nearly doubling its point total and bringing home a massive amount of hardware.
Not even the most confident of Grizzly Cubs was entirely sure such a thing was possible back in October.
“For us, this was just a pipe dream five months ago,” Franklin coach Zach DeWitt said. “We were throwing around names and numbers, and the boys bought into a dream and we chased it as hard as we could for four or five months.
“The more steps we took, each passing step, we thought maybe it was possible; maybe we can do it. About December, early December, we started taking some really big steps, and then the walking became running toward the goal.”
On Saturday, they finally reached it.
They’ll undoubtedly set higher goals in the future, but it’s unlikely that they’ll ever view any of them as unrealistic again.