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Center Grove girls dominate sectional

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There have been plenty of memorable days in the Center Grove High School’s girls swimming and diving team’s 25-year reign as sectional champions.

But Saturday’s performance likely will rank among the best.

The Trojans swept the relays, won seven of eight individual races and claimed the top three spots in the diving competition as they easily captured the team championship at the Franklin Sectional.

Three Center Grove swimmers earned four sectional titles each.

Junior Caroline Sheehan won the 200 individual medley, the 500 freestyle and swam with the winning 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams. Emily Saugstad, a sophomore, captured the 100 and 200 freestyle races and joined Sheehan on the 200 and 400 freestyle relays.

And Amanda Ward, also a sophomore, collected titles in the 100 backstroke, 200 medley relay, and the 200 and 400 freestyle relays for the Trojans.

The day wasn’t just about wins, though. The Trojans placed at least one swimmer in the top three of every individual event. They claimed two of the top three spots in five other races. And Sheehan, Claire Cross and Annie Rich went 1-2-3 in the 500 freestyle.

Center Grove coach Jim Todd was proud of the Trojans.

“I told them after the meet that if I were to have written a script for how I wanted today to work out, (they) almost hit it exactly the way we wanted it,” he said. “They really stepped up and did a great job. They competed and had a lot of fun.”

Martinsville’s Deanna Ford was the only swimmer who got in the way of a complete Center Grove sweep of the meet. The senior won the 100 butterfly in 1:00.58.

All individual sectional winners advance to Friday’s preliminaries of the IHSAA Girls State Championships at the IU Natatorium in Indianapolis. The championship finals are Saturday.

Center Grove will look to improve on last year’s 14th-place finish at the state meet. Saugstad was the only Trojans swimmer to advance to a final race a year ago, taking eighth in the 100 freestyle.

Todd said that goal is within reach.

“We’ll shoot for the top 10. That’s a goal we set at the beginning of the year,” he said. “We’re really looking forward to next weekend.”

In diving, Center Grove junior sensation Maddie Gordon continued her spectacular season.

She posted a score of 504.30 which set a personal- and school-record standard.

“I am ecstatic with the way I dove,” Gordon said. “I broke my record and the school record. I am so excited.”

Gordon, who placed fifth in last year’s state meet, said her strategy for Tuesday’s diving regional and the state meet will be simple.

“(I’ll) just try to dive the same I dove today,” she said, “and hopefully it will be good enough.”

Joining Gordon at Tuesday’s regional meet at Bloomington North will be teammates Rachel Smallwood and Maddie Keeley, along with Greenwood sophomore Krista Jones.

Center Grove earned 508 points to defend their team championship. Franklin finished second with 349.5. Greenwood was third with 277. Perry Meridian was fourth (207.5), and Whiteland was fifth (201). Indian Creek was seventh with 132.

Greenwood coach Chas Grimm was named coach of the year for the sectional field.

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