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Lapping the competition

Published 4/3/2014

Lady Buffs swimmers sweep all 11 events at home triangular.

By BRETT MARSHALL

bmarshall@gctelegram.com

Entering Thursday's triangular meet with Western Athletic Conference opponents Liberal and Dodge City, the Garden City Lady Buffaloes were favored in nine of the 11 events based upon seeding times.

So when the Lady Buffs got first-place performances in those two events — Erika Schafer in the 100-yard backstroke and Kailee Stucky in the 100-yard butterfly — they knew it was going to be a good day at the Garden City Family YMCA pool.

And it certainly proved to be just that.

Capturing firsts in all 11 events, eight individual and three relays, the Lady Buffs put a dunking on their WAC foes by finishing with 282 points to easily outdistance runnerup Dodge City, which finished with 162 points, while Liberal was a close third with 155 points.

For Schafer, her winning time of 1:16.54 was two seconds ahead of runner-up Abbey Hebbert of Liberal, who had come in with the fastest mark previously. Schafer had clocked a 1:19.91 in last week's season-opening event at Manhattan.

"The home crowd intensity sure helped a lot," a smiling Schafer said after the meet concluded. "It always helps swimming against people I know. I've been working on my turns, the starts and the finish. A big thing is how to kick off the turns. I could tell I was cutting times and I just kicked the last 25 (yards)."

Stucky had swam her 100-yard fly in 1:22.53 at Manhattan, but knocked 3.58 seconds off to finish with a winning mark of 1:18.95, while Liberal's Tessa Downs was second in 1:24.87. Claire Schmidt was another who saw her opening-meet mark time drop, as she won the 500-yard freestyle in a time of 6:27.90, compared to her 6:29.10 a week prior.

"Even though I knocked a couple of seconds off, it's not where I'd like it to be," Schmidt said. "It's hard to set a pace in the race. If you go out too fast, you're dead. It's just hard to pick a pace and set in with it. I can tell when I'm going good and I can tell when I'm slower than I am used to. I'm going to have to keep getting faster if I want to get to where my times were at the end of last year."

For head coach Casey Wise, the day proved to be a big confidence builder, as in every one of the 12 wins, his individuals and relay teams lowered their previous time from the opening meet.

"It was pretty outstanding, and I'm tickled with them," Wise said of his team. "I was pleased to see our experienced girls working with our young girls, and everybody swam faster today. Sometimes when you're way out in front it's hard to push yourself, but we kept pushing to see if they could lower their times and not just give in to being happy with just winning. No matter how far out in front they were, they kept swimming their hardest."

Two of the individual wins came from Lindsay Bradstreet, in the 200-yard freestyle (2:26.08) and 100-yard breaststroke (1:21.78), where she just out-touched teammate Laura Richmeier, who was right behind at 1:22.00. Richmeier was limited to the one race due to a rotator cuff injury to left shoulder, and yet she still lowered her previous time of 1:24.35.

"We just told everyone to go get'em and that's what they did," Wise said. "They went out and got after it."

Samantha Norton also grabbed two wins, those coming in the 200-yard individual medley (2:31.72) and 100-yard freestyle (1:00.71). Abigail Ginest-Dougherty captured first in the 50-yard freestyle (27.96). The three relay teams posted victories, too. The 200-yard medley unit of Ashley Longoria, Bradstreet, Schmidt and Norton clocked a 2:09.54 to win by more than seven seconds. The 200-yard freestyle team of Longoria, Schafer, Andrea Castillo and Ginest-Dougherty won with a time of 1:56.42, again lowering their time by more than two seconds.

In the final event of the meet, Schmidt, Schafer, Bradstreet and Norton teamed up to win the 400-yard freestyle relay with a time of 4:17.41, bettering their mark a week earlier by just more than a second. Norton's anchor leg was a sizzling 59.78, the first time she has been clocked under a minute in the distance.

The Lady Buffs will have a week to get ready for their next meet, this one on Thursday at Emporia.

Results in Scoreboard, Page B2.

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