For the Daily Journal

Franklin led in all but three events and sent every one of its swimmers to the finals in a dominating performance on the preliminary round of the Franklin Sectional in its home waters Thursday.

The Grizzly Cubs claimed victories in eight events and totaled 17 top-three finishes in the preliminary round.

Maybe more impressively, every one of their swimmers but one placed in the top eight and will get a chance to compete for a sectional championship Saturday.

Story continues below gallery

Despite the performance, Franklin coach Zach DeWitt knows that there is still plenty left in the tank for Saturday.

“Tonight is always about doing what you need to do. We rolled the dice on a couple of them trying to squeeze everybody we could into that top eight,” DeWitt said. “Obviously not wearing a (faster) suit is advantage going into Saturday, feeling like you still have some to give, and the girls feel that way as well. I’m real excited for Saturday.”

Franklin wasn’t the only Johnson County school that did well on day one. Center Grove qualified 15 swimmers for the finals, while Indian Creek picked up four qualifications, Whiteland 10 and Greenwood six.

But the story of the night was Franklin. Carla Gildersleeve was first in a pair of events for the Cubs, the 200-yard freestyle in 1:53.18 and the 100 butterfly in 56.04. Ali Terrell led the 200 individual medley in 2:09.37, Ella Pheifer led the 50 freestyle in 24.13, Gracey Payne led the 100 freestyle in 52.15 and Kabria Chapman led the 100 breaststroke in 1:05.27. The Cubs also earned the No. 1 spot the 200 medley relay in 1:49.94 and the 200 freestyle relay in 1:41.43.

Whiteland scored a pair of top finishes, with Addison Daily first in the 500 freestyle in 5:11.03 and the 400 free relay leading in 3:43.44. Daily also set a new school record in the 200 freestyle while placing second in 1:54.94.

Alexis Wilhoit scored Indian Creek’s lone first-place showing, claiming the 100 backstroke in 57.77.

The diving preliminaries will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, with the swimming and diving finals set for 1 p.m. Event winners and any that reach the state standard times will automatically qualify for the state finals next week.