By BRETT MARSHALL
As the 2013 season winds down for the Garden City High School girls swimming team, head coach Casey Wise has been looking for two things — maintaining good times, or improving on those.
He got both of those on Thursday at the Salina South Invitational, as the Lady Buffs squad finished third with 366 points in the six-team meet. Salina South and Salina Central occupied the top two spots with 428 and 383 points.
Or, as Wise indicated, take out the diving competition, and add in the absent Claire Schmidt, and the Lady Buffs would be in the thick of challenging South for the team title.
Schmidt, a sophomore who usually swims in four events, including relays, missed the trip due to a personal schedule conflict.
"We've known all season that she'd be gone, and she's gone for a good reason," Wise said. "We missed her, but the girls we had today swam really, really well. Overall, it was a pretty good day."
Samantha Norton had the strongest performances of the day with a second in the 200-yard individual medley, where she was timed in 2:29.28, and a third in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 1:09.08. Wise said that Norton, a junior, cut her times in both individual races.
Senior Alexa Shaffer had a pair of third-place finishes, taking the bronze medal in the 200-yard freestyle in a time of 2:17.48 and the 500-yard freestyle in a time of 6:16.17.
Sophomore Lindsay Bradstreet came in with a third and a fifth in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:20.75) and 200-yard freestyle (2:21.60). Senior Katelyn Greene garnered a fifth in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:26.23.
Another fifth-place finish came from freshman Erika Schafer in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 1:03.57.
On the relay circuit, the 200-yard freestyle team of Greene, Abigail Ginest-Dougheerty, Shaffer and Norton finished second with a time of 1:53.68, just missing overtaking Salina South, which swam a 1:52.86. The other Lady Buffs' 200-yard free relay team of Ashley Longoria, Kaylee Seyferth, Erin Kuneyl and Bradstreet was fifth in 2:02.35.
In the 200-yard medley relay, the team of Longoria, Bradstreet, Norton and Schafer also finished runner-up, this time to Salina Central, with a time of 2:09.81. The two teams in the 400-yard freestyle relay finished fourth and fifth. The fourth was taken by Shaffer, Kuneyl, Schafer and Greene in 4:21.35 while the team of Stucky, Longoria, Ginest-Dougherty and Andrea Castillo clocked a time of 4:33.96.
"The relays swam just about where I thought they would," Wise said. "I think we got about what we expected near the end of the season. Our depth continues to be solid."
Next up for the swimmers will be the Western Athletic Conference on Thursday at Great Bend, where the Lady Buffs will try to dethrone the host Lady Panthers, who edged them out for the WAC title by one point a year ago.
Results in Scoreboard, Page B2.
Girls soccer, boys golf
The winter storm that dropped nearly three inches of snow on Garden City and continued eastward during the day on Thursday forced the postponement of the GCHS girls soccer game against Wichita North in Wichita at the North Cup, while the Buffs' boys golfers had their Goddard Invitational at Tex Consolver Golf Course in Wichita cancelled.
The Lady Buffs soccer will now play at 5:30 p.m. today in the North Cup semis against the Lady Redskins. A win puts them into Saturday's championship game at 3 p.m. while the third place game would be played at 1 p.m.