WICHITA — Jamie Dawson took a small group of the Emporia High girls swim and dive team to the Wichita West Invitational on Saturday.
Even lacking multiple entries in several events, the Spartans placed third out of 12 teams with 313 points.
“It was great to be able to really focus on some of our top events that we are trying to get times dropped on,” Dawson said. “We had some great swims and times turned in.
“Overall, (Saturday) was one of the first days that I can say I saw this group swim with the heart they have shown in practice, but never converted to races. There were many close races that the team last week would’ve rolled over and let someone else beat them. (Saturday), they kicked it into high gear and beat our other teams.”
Senior Haylee Weiss won the diving portion of the meet with a score of 445.85. Junior Karalyn Karjala was second, recording a score of 374.65. Freshman Cadance Vincent qualified for state with a fourth-place finish with a score of 338.15.
The 400-yard freestyle relay team of Kaylen Hart, Ashlyn Alingh, Kelsey Boettcher and Hailey Williams won the event with a time of 4:14.89. The quartet also made up the 200-yard freestyle relay team, who swam a 1:54.90, good for second. Both times were season-bests and are getting closer to being automatic times into the state meet.
Williams finished second in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 6:16.19, trimming off 15 seconds from her previous-best time and was .04 away from earning a consideration time. Boettcher was third, recording a time of 6:21.16.
Hart finished third in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 2:18.30, earning a state consideration time. She also took third in the 100-yard freestyle, recording a time of 1:03.25.
“She’s been sick for about two weeks, so it was great to finally get her in the (200 free) and see her swim so well,” Dawson said.
Alingh earned a pair of fifth-place finishes and inched closer to automatic times in both of her events. She swam a 27.55 in the 50-yard freestyle and a 1:08.21 in the 100-yard butterfly.
Williams (2:21.95) and Boettcher (2:22.78) finished sixth and seventh, respectively, in the 200 free.
The 200-yard medley relay team finished seventh with a time of 2:26.87.
Sophomore Alexis Brown swam a 2:53.57 in the 200-yard individual medley, good for seventh. Brown also placed eighth in the 100-yard backstroke, recording a time of 1:17.52.
Senior Natalie Chavez finished 12th in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 1:24.48 and took 11th in the 100 fly (1:22.74).
Sophomore Emily Leihsing was 14th in the 100-yard breaststroke, recording a time of 1:36.59.
Freshman Faith Finley swam a 3:29.01 in the 200 IM, good for 14th.
EHS travels to Salina. The divers will compete on Wednesday with the swimmers set to take the pool on Friday.
“If we can keep this momentum going, I think this group could really make some noise in May,” Dawson said. “We just have to keep plugging away. We’re getting there and if they keep it up, I can see them being very successful in the end.”