Hays, Kan (westernkansasnews.com)-Over the past decade, there’s been one constant sighting at the top of the Western Athletic Conference Standings: Great Bend. Thursday’s championship meet didn’t change that.
The Lady Panthers dominated-taking home eight, first-place finishes en route to a 12th consecutive WAC championship.
Garden City placed second, but 77 points separated the Buffs and Panthers in the final tally.
“The girls swam really well,” Head Coach Casey Wise said. “It was a really great effort; our energy was definitely up the entire meet.”
Despite finishing behind their rival, Wise qualified seven swimmers for state: Samantha Norton, Claire Schmidt, Lindsay Bradstreet (breast stroke), Ashley Longoria, Kailee Stuckey, Erika Schafer and Abigail Ginest-Dougherty.
The day started out on a high note with the Buffs winning the 200-yard medley relay-outlasting Great Bend by nearly three second. But the Panthers responded with five straight victories including Hannah Hildebrand’s runaway in the 200-yard individual medley.
Schmidt finally snapped the streak with a sensational time in the 500-yard freestyle. Her 6:06.84 was 27 seconds better than second-place finisher Brenna Haines from Great Bend.
“I cut time in all my events,” Schmidt said. “The best one was clearly my 500.”
Schmidt wasn’t the only one showing off on Thursday. Junior Laura Richmeier raced to victory in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:20.88.
Dodge City came in third with 175 points. Their best finish came freshman Hannah Sowers-who was fourth in the 100-yard butterfly.