Though Lawrence High’s girls swimmers consistently posted the best times, Free State’s depth prevailed Tuesday at the Lawrence Indoor Aquatic Center.
The Lions’ first-place finishes in seven of the 12 events weren’t enough to keep the Firebirds from a team title at the Free State Invite.
After LHS coach Kent McDonald’s team finished second, 102.5 points behind Free State, he said the crosstown rivals simply had the numbers to prevail. The 100-yard butterfly immediately came to mind. While LHS had just Heather Cistola, who took second, swimming in that event, FSHS had Courtney Caldwell (first), Rosemary Black (fourth) and Helmi Vinikka (seventh) scoring points. In that event alone, the Firebirds earned 47 points while the Lions scored 17.
“We just didn’t have the depth to do that,” the LHS coach said.
Firebirds coach Annette McDonald said she gets just as excited about fourth or seventh place as she does a spot at No. 1.
“Everybody thinks it’s just that first place,” she said. “It’s the other two placers who place high that really bump up the score.”
LHS sophomore Gretchen Frick played down her team’s second-place finish after taking first in the 200 and 100 freestyle events.
“It’s not really that big of a deal, because I think we won a lot of the events, and so we were more excited about that,” Frick said.
She teamed with Miranda Rohn, Cistola and Annie Odrowski to win the 400 free relay and the 200 medley relay.
Lawrence’s other victories came from Cistola in the 200 IM, Rohn in the 500 free and Odrowski in the 100 breast.
Free State, meanwhile, won four events. Caldwell’s 100 fly victory came after her win in the 50 free and before she swam with Eliza Anderson, Katie Kimbrough and Morgan Miller to win the 200 free relay. The Firebirds’ Lucy Sirimongkhon-Dyck later beat out Rohn by less than a second in the 100 back.
Free State’s depth showed in the diving event, too. Lawrence’s Allison Williams placed third to score 16 points, but Free State had Annie Soderberg (second), Haley Johnson (fourth) and Brooke Leslie (fifth) to add 46 more points to the Firebirds’ total.
Caldwell said the entire FSHS team was supportive.
“Finishing in first place, obviously, isn’t all of it,” Caldwell said. “It’s the people who come in second, third, fourth, fifth — it’s all those points adding up.”
The Lions, coach Kent McDonald said, shouldn’t be too discouraged about finishing behind their rivals.
“We’re not giving up on beating them,” he said. “I hope it’s going to give us a little more incentive to get back in the pool and practice a little harder.”