Garden City Buffaloes
Successful swim: Lady Buffs open season with win over Dodge, Liberal.
By BRETT MARSHALL
Not only was Garden City High School girls swimming coach Casey Wise looking for specific performances from his 2013 squad in Thursday's season-opening triangular with Dodge City and Liberal, but two of his senior veteran team members — Jacie Sullivan and Katelyn Greene — were looking to see how their times compared to the end of the 2012 season.
When the three-team event concluded, all three came away with enough positives to call the first meet of the year an unqualified success.
First, the depth that Wise had mentioned in preseason was evident as the Lady Buffs used multiple-entries in most events to dominate the team scoring, winning easily with 286 points to runner-up Dodge City's 134. Liberal was close behind with 129.
Second, Sullivan captured two individual first-place finishes and then swam on two winning relay teams — the 200-yard medley with Lindsay Bradstreet, Samantha Norton and Alexa Shaffer, and the 200-yard freestyle relay with Greene, Shaffer and Claire Schmidt.
"I thought it went pretty good," Sullivan said of her performance as well as the team's effort. "I think I've improved and my times today were pretty close to where I was at the end of last season, so I'm a little surprised I'm at the same level. Knowing that I'm as fast as I was last year so early, gives me confidence to know I can improve my times more."
Sullivan captured 50-yard freestyle with a time of 28.51 seconds, edging junior teammate Ashley Longoria, who was next at 29.91. Her best of a year ago was a 28.33. In the 100-yard backstroke, Sullivan was clocked in 1:13.98, again finishing ahead of Longoria (1:19.01). Sullivan's season best in 2012 was 1:13.10.
"My favorite is the freestyle, but I really think my best event is the backstroke," Sullivan said. "It's a tough race to do, you're swimming backward and you're looking up. You just try to line yourself up with the ceiling to know where you are."
Greene came up with one individual first, capturing the 100-yard freestyle in a time of 1:02.76, less than a second off her best mark of 1:01.91. She also swam the third leg of the winning 400-yard freestyle relay, which finished with a time of 4:17.30.
"It's a good meet to start with because we only face Liberal and Dodge City," Greene said. "It gives a chance to see where we're at with times before we meet Great Bend. I think we know there's a lot of room for improvement, but I think there were a lot of surprises with a lot of our girls today. We'll probably move around girls now to see what works."
Both Sullivan and Greene want to see their relay teams return to state where they were conditional qualifiers. They would like to meet state qualifying marks during the season so they don't have to wait and see if they are accepted into the state meet. Getting through first-day qualifying at the state and getting to the finals also would be nice.
For Wise, the day provided an opportunity to evaluate the work put in during the preseason.
"It was a good day, but we've got things to work on," Wise said. "Already, we're faster as a whole, and I think the group showed that our depth is very strong."
Wise said there likely will be shuffling of individuals in a variety of events for the next meet.
"I liked some of the things I saw with our freshmen, and I'm sure there will be some changes," Wise said. "I thought our seniors showed good leadership both in and outside of the pool. We wanted to challenge them to compete with their fastest times of last year, and I think they did a pretty good job with that."
The only other first was claimed by Norton in the 200-yard individual medley (2:34.77).
The Lady Buffs will travel on Thursday to the Emporia Invitational.
Results in Scoreboard, Page B2.
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