Not only was Thursday a busy day for Garden City High School spring sports teams, but it was a productive one as well.

The girls swimming team captured a prestigious first-place team title at the Emporia Invitational, where the Buffs bested a 10-team field.

GCHS’ girls soccer team prevailed in their Western Athletic Conference opener, toppling Great Bend 4-0.

And the Buffs’ boys and girls track and field teams came home with fourth-place finishes in the tough Valley Center Invitational.

Girls swimming

It may be a first in many ways as the Buffaloes girls won a big-field event at the Emporia Invitational.

The Buffs finished with 455 points to outlast De Soto, which was second with 404 points. Wichita Trinity Acadey was third with 317 points and Emporia was fourth at 313.

“We’re very excited about how the girls performed today,” head coach Jennifer Meng said. “There were some really good teams, and some good individuals in different events. The girls continue to improve, and yet we know they will swim faster as the season progresses.”

There were plenty of top efforts for the Buffs, headlined by four individual first-places and one relay victory.

Emma Tull garnered firsts in the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 2:26.65, and then she followed that with a victory in the 100-yard breaststroke in a time of 1:15.45. Both were personal bests for the GCHS junior.

Kirstin Neff won her gold medal in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 28.50 seconds and then added a third in the 100-yard butterfly (1:10.31).

Grace Schmidt garnered a first-place in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 2:11.37, nearly three seconds in front of the runner-up finisher. Schmidt tacked on a fourth-place in the 100-yard backstroke (1:10.44).

The 200-yard freestyle relay team of Neff, Ashleigh Chappel, Tull and Schmidt swam together in that event for the first time this season and posted a 1;53.81, just .5 of a second off the state qualifying time.

“We’re getting stronger each week, and the girls have really done a good job of knowing how to get off the blocks in the relay races,” Meng said.

The same four swimmers took second in the opening 200-yard medley relay with a time of 2:08.00.

Another swimmer who had a productive day was Emily Ortiz, who took a third in the 100-yard freestyle (1:06.38) and then placed fifth in the 200-yard freestyle (2:28.30). Laura Malagon Palacios and Kaitlyn Chappel were fifth-sixth in the 100-yard freestyle with times of 1:08.25 and 1:08.83. Kaitlyn Chappel was eighth in the 100-yard backstroke (1:24.30).

Josie Calzonetti, Emma Dirks and Megan Strecker went 7-8-9 in the 500-yard freestyle, with the first two going under the seven-minute barrier.

In the meet’s final event, the 400-yard freestyle, the Buffs’ second squad of Malagon Palacios, Calzonetti, Megan Allen and Ortiz placed fourth with a time of 4:33.15.

“All of the girls contributed, and everyone’s stepping up,” Meng said.

The Buffs will host another meet on Tuesday at 4 p.m. with Holcomb, Dodge City, Liberal and Great Bend competing at the Garden City Family YMCA Pool.

Girls soccer

The Garden City Buffaloes girl’s soccer team (4-1, 1-0) continued their offensive onslaught Thursday night, as a brace from both sophomore Makaylee Longoria and Junior Elyssa Salazar gave the Buffaloes a 4-0 win over the Great Bend Panthers in Great Bend. The road win was Garden City’s fourth in a row and opened up WAC play for the Buffaloes.

“This has definitely been our best game of the season so far,” said head coach Joaquin Padilla. “We moved the ball, attacked, defended and played better overall.”

The Buffaloes once again started early as junior Elyssa Salazar continued her goal hot streak and scored her fifth goal of the season in the seventh minute. She then scored her sixth goal of the season eight minutes later, in the 15th minute, to double Garden City’s lead.

During this four game winning streak, the Buffaloes have outscored their opponents 12-1. This might have to do with Garden City’s quick starts. The Buffaloes have opened up the scoring before the 10th minute in each of the past three games…5th minute, 7th minute and 7th minute respectively.

Not to be outdone by her teammate, sophomore Makaylee Longoria also added to her goal count this season, five, after scoring two goals in the 38th and 64th minutes.

Offensive output was an area of concentration entering the season, and it seems, at least for this part of the season, that the Buffaloes have figured it out.

“Our attacking midfielder seems to be more physical,” said Padilla about the difference for the offensive turnaround as of late. “They seem to be fighting for balls and creating plays. Their ball movement is better and are looking to move the ball ‘inside-outside’ and ‘outside-inside.’”

Padilla continues, “As long as someone scores, I’ll take it. But moving forward, our success will depend on our attacking midfielders and forwards.”

Garden City will look to continue its winning streak against Wichita Trinity Friday in Garden City. The pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m. at Buffalo Stadium.

Track and field

The Garden City track teams had strong performances Thursday at the Valley Center Invitational, with both teams placing fourth in just their second meet of the season.  

“I thought we competed well,” said head coach Brian Hill about his team’s performance on Thursday. “It was a very tough meet, with some strong competition. We did, however, hit a lot of our marks and that is something I’m happy about.”

The Buffaloes had a handful of first-place finishers on Thursday, all of which came from the girls team. The 4x800 team won with a time of 10:27.13. Junior Taylor Savolt won two events on Thursday, after winning the long jump with a mark of 17-01.50 and the triple jump with a mark of 36-07. Senior Raegan Linenberger and freshman Julie Calzonetti finished first and second in the girl’s high jump with jumps of 5-05 and 5-00 respectively. Linenberger’s mark is just an inch off her personal best from 2017.

On the boys side, Senior Garrett Doll finished second in the 800-meters with a time of 2:02.09. Senior javelin thrower Jordan Herrman had a personal best with a throw of 158’10” and Sotero Salazar came in third in the 3,200-meter run with a time of 10:46.95.

Defending Class 6A state champion Demarcus Elliott took second in the shot put with a throw of 51-05, about a foot off his state title throw last May.

The tough field will help the Buffs down the road as the season progresses, Hill said.

“We can gauge where we currently are and where we want to be and the tough competition will push us to be better the rest of the season. It will also help improve our kids and they now know of the competition from around the state.”

Garden City’s next meet will be the annual KT Woodman Invitational at Wichita State University, which will take place Thursday and Friday.