Manhattan Leave it to Ashley Robinson to raise her bar of excellence even higher in crunch time.
Someday, a plane will be able to fly under it.
The Free State High swimmer and state champion in the 500 freestyle last year as a freshman doubled her fun as a sophomore at the Kansas girls swimming and diving championships Saturday at Kansas State.
Robinson was a two-time individual state champ this time, topping the top seed to win the 100-yard butterfly, then smoking the field in a sub-five-minute 500 freestyle.
Her success is anything but a surprise anymore, but it still is impressive. Only three individuals won multiple events Saturday at the Ahearn Natatorium: Robinson, Olathe North's Jill Courtney (100, 200 freestyle) and Olympic hopeful Caroline Bruce from Wichita Trinity, who demolished the field in both the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke -- the seventh and eighth individual state titles in her remarkable career.
Robinson is the youngest of the three. While she was favored to win the 500 freestyle -- an event she won in a blazing time of 4:57.99 -- her 56.43 time in the 100 fly was as unexpected as it was amazing.
"(FSHS coach Jama Crady) entered me in it, and I didn't think I'd win," Robinson said. "Two of my good friends were in it, and I didn't think I could beat either of them."
Robinson probably could have been a threat in the 200 IM and 200 free, too, if swimmers weren't limited to two individual events at the state meet. She's that versatile.
"We didn't know what we were going to do with her," Crady said. "She's obviously strong in 50 different ways."
Crady was left with no reason to second-guess in the end. Robinson earned the individual-maximum 40 team points for the Firebirds, who finished fourth in the team standings with 201 points.
Trinity won the team title in dramatic fashion, winning the 400 free relay, the last event, and benefiting from Olathe East's drop in seeding in the same race. Trinity finished with 266 points, two more than O-East.
Lawrence High finished 11th with 77 points, and lots of credit goes the way of the relays. The 200 medley team of Chelsea Dirks-Ham, Kristi Rudman, Julia Szabo and Melissa Farve placed eighth, and the 200 free and 400 free relay teams each placed 12th.
Dirks-Ham also placed ninth in the 100 backstroke and 10th in the 50 freestyle. Senior Ellie Lloyd took 13th in diving.
"We went up two spots from last year," LHS coach Ryan Adams said. "I didn't think we would, so it's really exciting. It was a little personal goal the team had."
Robinson was the only champion from Free State, but the 200 and 400 free relay teams each took second place. Robinson was on both of those, too, as was junior Ashley Jackson and freshman Katie Swank.
Jackson took third in the 500 freestyle and fifth in the 200 freestyle, while Swank took fourth in the 100 breast and fifth in the 200 free.
With everyone who competed this weekend returning next year, the Firebirds have no reason not to shoot for better than fourth place down the road.
But for now, they'll take it.
"We looked at the teams that finished in the top three, and a lot of them have seniors that they're losing," Crady said. "Trinity is stacked with seniors and juniors. We have a very young team."
Robinson was named first-team All State for her efforts Saturday. Jackson and Swank earned second-team honorees.