The Franklin Community High School girls swim program spent Saturday halting a drought significantly older than every one of its athletes.

Taking first in seven events at the Indian Creek Natatorium, the Grizzly Cubs scored 546 points to wrap up their first Johnson County Meet team championship since 1987.

Freshman Carla Gildersleeve touched the wall first in both the 200 and 500 freestyle events and took part in Franklin’s victorious 200 and 400 freestyle relay efforts to lead coach Zach Dewitt’s squad.

Another Grizzly Cubs’ ninth-grader, Ali Terrell, also experienced her share of the awards podium. Terrell won the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke as well as contributing to first-place finishes in the 200 medley and 200 free relays.

“This has kind of been a long time coming. We really had to rebuild the age group program from the ground up, so we’re just kind of reaping the dividends from the last few years of hard work we put in with the young kids,” Dewitt said.

“We’ve got quite the talented freshman class that helped push us over that hill, but our upperclassmen have done an awesome job of leading the young girls.”

Senior Madeline Daily, who finished seventh in the 100 breaststroke on Saturday, is referred to as “The rock of our team” by her coach.

“We’ve worked really hard and we’ve really come together as a team. It’s good to see the atmosphere the team brings,” said Dailey, a four-year varsity performer. “It’s good to win, but we just like being together as a family.”

Franklin sophomore Ella Pheifer won the 50 freestyle and participated in two winning relays, while classmate Anna McCahill earned top honors in the 100 butterfly and was part of the 200 medley relay.

Grizzly Cubs junior Brenna Pearcy won the 100 freestyle, placed second to Gildersleeve in the 200 free and was part of the winning 200 and 400 freestyle relays. Freshman Jessie Fraley was in two of the relays and runner-up in the 500 free and 100 backstroke.

Center Grove, which placed second in the team standings with 444 points, established a County Meet standard in diving with senior Rachel Smallwood’s 461.95-point performance. Indian Creek’s Alexis Wilhoit captured the 100 butterfly.

Franklin also won the boys team championship, outpointing Center Grove, 489.5 to 424.5, despite being shorthanded.

“That’s quite the accomplishment for the girls. But, really, all things considered, the boys were down three teammates today. Two due to a funeral and one to illness,” Dewitt said. “We told them at the very beginning of the day, ‘Next man up’, and they definitely came through in almost every clutch moment.”

Junior A.J. Rice won the 50 and 100 freestyles and was part of the victorious 200 medley relay and 200 free relay to lead the Grizzly Cubs. Jacob Destrampe, a freshman, placed first in the 200 freestyle while also helping Franklin win two relays.

Indian Creek senior Wyeth Brock established a new County Meet record of 1:56.03 in the 200 individual medley and also won the 100 butterfly. Teammate Nolan Reed proved the swimmer to beat in the 100 backstroke with Braves diver Max Murr also taking first.

Team runner-up Center Grove produced significant points with Noah Tallman’s victory in the 500 freestyle, Alex Krasutsky winning the 100 breaststroke and by triumphing in the 400 freestyle relay thanks to Krasutsky, Tallman, Jamie Vance and Alex Feitl.

“We swam OK up and down the line. I think our boys swam with a little more emotion than the girls did,” Center Grove coach Jim Todd said.

“I was pleased with all of them. The boys were just a little bit better today than the girls. Noah Tallman did a nice job in both his events, and same with Alex Krasutsky. We’re a long way away from where we should be, but they’re still working at it.”

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Mike Beas is a sports writer for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at