The theme that kept coming up Saturday among Franklin’s girls swimmers was that fun swimming is fast swimming.
Not surprisingly, the Grizzly Cubs had a lot of fun in dominating the Franklin Sectional, winning every swimming event and setting four school records while racking up 519 points, more than 200 ahead of runner-up Center Grove.
“Front to back, this was the best girls sectional meet that we’ve ever had,” Franklin coach Zach DeWitt said.
The Grizzly Cubs got the momentum rolling early when the 200-yard medley relay team of Jessie Fraley, Kabria Chapman, Ali Terrell and Gracey Payne won with a school-record time of 1:44.71. Terrell established another mark two events later when she broke her own record in the 200 individual medley at 2:04.29.
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“It definitely sets the tone for the whole meet,” Terrell said of the strong early performances. “It’s kind of like a domino effect.”
The dominoes kept falling all day for Franklin. Carla Gildersleeve coasted to first-place finishes in the 200 freestyle and the 100 butterfly, Ella Pheifer won the 50 freestyle, Gracey Payne took the 100 freestyle and Sarah Hoffman won the 500 freestyle in a blazing 4:58.48.
Two more school records fell for the Grizzly Cubs late in the meet, as Fraley finished the backstroke in 56.56 seconds and Chapman swam the breaststroke in 1:03.60.
Fraley, one of six Grizzly Cubs who will compete in four events at next weekend’s state meet, said she was “the happiest that I’ve ever been” after breaking the backstroke mark by nearly half a second.
“We just give it our all on Saturday,” she added. “We don’t think; we just do.”
Gildersleeve, who sat out the sectional relays but will join the victorious 200 and 400 freestyle relays for state, will also be in two individual events along with Terrell, Hoffman, Payne and Pheifer. Senior Anna McCahill was an at-large qualifier in the butterfly.
Center Grove was able to break up Franklin’s first-place monopoly with a championship diving performance from Sarah Kempf, who scored 429.55 points to top Greenwood’s Faith Jackson. Both move on to the Bloomington North diving regional on Tuesday.
Indian Creek, which earned its first top-three sectional finish as a team and set six new school records, moved a pair of relays (200 medley and 400 freestyle) on to the state meet along with Lexi Wilhoit (100 backstroke) and Bella Ratzlaff (50 freestyle).
“We’re extremely excited,” Braves coach Brad Smith said. “We get to extend our season another week, and not everyone can say that.”
Whiteland placed fourth as a team and narrowly missed qualifying a relay for the state meet, which would have been a major step for the Warriors’ growing program.
“That’s going to take us to the next level,” coach Marci Whitford said. “It’s getting that first person there and bringing the whole team to support and see what that environment’s like.”
Franklin has plenty of experience with that environment in recent years, and the Grizzly Cubs are eager to return to the big stage and see where they stand among the elite.
“We’ve got to earn our spot at the big kid table, so to speak,” DeWitt said.
“There were some really fast times (Saturday) and it was awesome,” Terrell added, “but we’ve still got work to do.”