Indians swim to first-place finish

By Grant Guggisberg

Hosting four Centennial League schools on Wednesday at the KSU Natatorium, the Manhattan High swim team got a glimpse at some of the competition it’ll face for a league title later this spring.

While two of the other favorites — Washburn Rural and Emporia — weren’t at the meet, Manhattan dominated against those that did make the trip, scoring 467 team points and winning by 227 points over second-place Topeka West. Topeka High finished third with 236 points, with Seaman (224) and Shawnee Heights (143) rounding out the field.

Indians’ coach Jerry Carpenter said his team’s depth was a factor, in addition to a good day of racing.

“We had several kids have some pretty significant time drops, and we’ve had a good stretch of practice,” he said. “Last week was pretty tough with a couple competitions in a row. But the kids have reached the point now where they’re strong enough as far as conditioning goes, they can train at a hard enough level that they can start to tweak their technique a little bit.”

Manhattan won seven events on the day, while placing someone in the top three in every race. All of the Indian relay teams won on the day, despite Carpenter mixing things up in an effort to find the best combinations.

“I moved some girls around today,” he said. “I kind of knew this might be a meet where we’d have a chance to play around with the relays a little bit and still be in good shape. We had more depth than the teams here today.”

The team of Alana Bucholtz, Katie Bussman Cris Oropesa and Mariah Scipio won the 200 medley relay in a time of 2:08.09. In the 200 free relay, the team of Hannah Funk, Emma Bartlett, Emily Cady and Makayla Walters took first in a time of 1:52.74. In the final relay of the day, Manhattan managed to take first and second place. The team of Funk, Walters, Bucholtz and Scipio took first (4:03.00) while the other team of Cady, Justice Bishop, Bussman and Oropesa took second (4:18.99).

Manhattan had four swimmers win individual events, including Funk in the 50 free (26.78), Scipio in the 500 free (5:49.29), Bucholtz in the 100 back (1:06.92) and Sam Gray in diving (217.05).

It was an especially good meet for the Manhattan divers, as Gray won with a score 46.5 points better than her previous high. Tara Schroller took second (157.7) and Alyssa Sheff (144.15) finished in fourth.

“The divers dove well today,” Carpenter said. “We went 1-2-4 in diving, that’s pretty solid. Sam at 46 points better — she dove really well.”

Manhattan had top four finishes in individual events, including Walters in the 200 free (3rd, 2:17.81) and 100 butterfly (2nd, 1:11.14), Oropesa in the 200 individual medley (3rd, 2:41.67) and the 100 back (3rd, 1:14.05), Scipio in the 50 free (3rd, 26.92), Bussman in the 100 butterfly (3rd, 1:17.10) and 100 breast (2nd, 1:22.95), Funk in the 100 free (2nd, 59.05), Cady in the 50 free (4th, 28.42) and the 100 free (3rd, 1:02.66), Bucholtz in the 500 free (4th, 6:06.82) and Bartlett in the 100 breast (4th, 1:26.31). Also finishing top four were Marlee Evans in the 200 free (4th, 2:37.63), Julie Golden in the 100 butterfly (4th, 1:17.74) and Stafanie Wimmer in the 100 breast (3rd, 1:25.69).

Carpenter said some of the girls are racing tired.

“Some of the more experienced girls are training hard right now, so they’re tired,” he said. “They’re swimming tired and we’re going to keep hammering away.”

The team also had plenty of time drops on the day, with 16 girls setting new personal bests in the 50 free, with six in the 100 free.

Brittany Jones dropped 3.02 seconds off her best time in the 200 free, while Wimmer dropped 4.96 seconds off her best time in the 100 breast. Claire Freeby had the biggest drop of the day, trimming 8.25 seconds off her top time in the 100 free.

In the 50 free, Olivia Fry (-2.68), Hannah Nelson (-3.40), Alex Poulson (-3.50) and Caitlyn Depew (-2.74) all had significant drops.

“When you’re talking just down and back, any kind of drop is significant,” Carpenter said. “So when they’re dropping almost a second, or two seconds or three seconds like some of them are, that’s big.”

It was more of the same in the 100 free, with Freeby leading the way and Kinsley Snyder (-3.21), Tiana Kelson (-5.13) and Kiera Vars (-3.72) all seeing big drops.

“The conditioning is starting to get there,” Carpenter said. “So now we can start dialing in on some things, and that’s been real beneficial.”

The swim team has a quick turnaround between meets as they host again at 3:30 on Monday afternoon at the KSU Natatorium. The meet couldn’t be held on Wednesday, as usual, because of a KSHSAA rule that prohibits athletic events being held the same day as state music festivals.

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