Topeka It took four years, two state records and one ulterior motive to keep Free State High's Ashley Robinson from earning a spot atop the medals stand at the state girls swimming and diving championship.
The oft-decorated senior capped her career by finishing second twice during Saturday's finals at Hummer Sports Park, winning silver in the 100-yard butterfly and the 500 freestyle. That gives the Kansas University signee a combined eight gold and silver medals - four of each - during her four-year varsity career, and only a bit of disappointment about not kicking up the count on the former of those two in her last shot.
"I put it all out there," Robinson said. "It was fun. It was a fun meet.
"We don't race that much in this type of atmosphere. It's just really nice when everybody comes support you."
In return, the competitors treated the capacity crowd to four state records during the day's 12 events. Unfortunately for Free State fans, two of those came at Robinson's expense.
The first came in the 100 fly, where defending state champ Ashton Aubry of Blue Valley North bettered her own mark with a time of 55 seconds flat, relegating Robinson to runner-up status for the second straight season.
The more disappointing result came two races later, when Blue Valley Northwest senior Emma Berry clocked 4 minutes, 53.39 seconds in the 500 free to break Robinson's state mark and prevent her from winning her fourth straight gold at that distance.
What made that finish tougher to swallow was Berry's background. She opted for club swimming her first three seasons before switching to the high school version this season in an effort to add a state gold to her resume.
"That's hard to take," Free State coach Jama Crady said. "You want to see the kid that swam for the high school all four years be recognized in that manner.
"Like I told Ashley, nobody's going to remember (Berry), but everyone's going to remember Ashley Robinson. She gave them something special."
Robinson also joined junior Sarah Clark and fellow seniors Becca Glass and Kelsi Mishler in two relays finals. They finished sixth in the day's final event, the 400 free relay, with a time of 3:45.08. The same quartet won the consolation final in the 200-free relay, finishing ninth overall in 1:44.02.
Glass also won the consolation final in the 500 free in 5:19.48, junior Carol Fittell was 10th in diving with 337.05 points and Mishler was 12th in the 100 free in 56.07 as the Firebirds finished eighth in the team race with 99 points.
Blue Valley North won the team title in a rout, scoring 307.5 points - 116.5 better than runner-up Wichita Trinity Academy.
"It was a good year," Crady said. "It's kind of bittersweet because we're losing good kids."
Free State is also losing its coach. Crady is moving out of state to join her boyfriend in Los Angeles and tendered her resignation Monday, ending a six-year run as the Firebirds' head girls coach.
"So the whole year has been mixed emotions," Crady said. "I like this team a lot. They've been a good group to coach. It's a good one to go out with."