Center Grove excels at girls state swim prelims


The state record book faced a full-blown assault Friday night during the girls state swimming preliminaries, with Carmel swimmers smashing the previous standards in five of the first seven events.

As hard as it was to keep pace with that kind of speed, Lara Phipps and her Center Grove teammates managed to hold their own.

Phipps was the top local performer on the evening, qualifying for the championship final in both of her individual events and helping the Trojans’ 200- and 400-yard freestyle relays do the same.

“It honestly went really well today,” Phipps said. “I worked really hard to get my place in the top eight, and I get to come back tomorrow and see how much trouble I can cause.”

The junior began her day by placing eighth in the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 2:04.96 and followed up by going 55.55 in the 100 butterfly, good for seventh. Phipps also joined Lexi Stuart, Grace Clarkston and Tenley Wilkins on the fifth-place 200 free relay (1:35.60) and teamed with Stuart, Wilkins and Clara Brandon to finish seventh in the 400 free relay (3:31.43).

Center Grove coach Brad Smith singled out the efforts of Stuart and Wilkins as critical in getting those two relays into the top eight.

“They really kind of got in their own heads at sectional, and I kind of thought they swam not to lose instead of going out and swimming to win,” Smith said. “We talked about that all week, just to come here and swim to win. … You look at their splits, and that’s exactly what they did.”

The Trojans’ 200 medley relay team of Clarkston, Laney Brooks, Kayla Fischer and Addyson Matern finished 20th with a time of 1:50.54. Fischer added a 28th-place finish in the 500 freestyle (5:16.96).

Franklin’s night got off to a rough start when it had a relay team disqualified in a preliminary heat for the second straight weekend. The Grizzly Cubs’ medley quartet, which had a time that would have placed it in the consolation final at 10th, was flagged for leaving the blocks early on an exchange.

The last remaining Franklin relay, the 200 freestyle team of Lili Ratzlaff, Jovie Mowrey, Jenna Miller and Kathleen Lacy, squeaked into the B final by finishing 16th in 1:38.67.

Ratzlaff and senior Allie Lacy will each swim in a pair of individual consolation finals. Ratzlaff placed 12th in the 200 free with a 1:52.85 and came back to finish ninth in the 100 free in 51.69 seconds, just five hundredths of a second short of the A final. Lacy was 10th in the 200 IM (2:05.89) and in 15th the 100 backstroke (57.28).

Mowrey, a freshman, finished 20th in the 100 back (58.49). Kathleen Lacy narrowly missed out on a second swim in the 100 breaststroke, placing 17th (1:06.13).

For Carmel, a safe bet to win its 37th team championship in a row, Alex Shackell led the record-breaking parade by lowering the old marks in both the 50 freestyle (22.05) and 100 fly (51.16); she was also part of the Greyhounds’ medley relay, which opened the night by posting a time of 1:38.51 and missing the national record by less than half a second. Freshman Molly Sweeney set a new standard in the 200 IM (1:55.88), and soph Lynsey Bowen did so in the 500 freestyle (4:43.32).

The Greyhounds will again dominate the field today, but Center Grove is well positioned for a top-10 finish.

“It’s such a fast field that we just wanted to come in and drop time,” Smith said. “It was a perfect night for us, really.”

In addition to its four A final swims, the Trojans will also have junior Mia Prusiecki, the reigning state champion in 1-meter diving and an overwhelming favorite to retain her title, in action today. Diving preliminaries begin at 9 a.m., with the top 16 advancing to the afternoon finals. Indian Creek’s Ella Taylor and Franklin’s Camy Quiggins join Prusiecki in the field; each is making her third consecutive state appearance.