Depth carries Waukee High School girls to first state swimming title
Waukee left no doubt at the Iowa Girls' High School State Swimming and Diving Meet Friday and Saturday at the Marshalltown YMCA/YWCA.
The Warriors scored 357 points to win their first state championship, finishing nearly 100 points higher than defending champion Ames.
"We had this goal at the beginning of the year, but to see it come to fruition is just unbelievable," Waukee head coach Shelley Twigg said. "This has been a dream come true."
Twigg was named coach of the year at the meet. A big reason for that was her ability to develop so many talented swimmers.
Waukee only needed to win three events to take the title. The Warriors also picked up four silver and five bronze medals.
"We have a ton of depth," Twigg said. "Everybody did their parts today, which made this happen."
Jessi Wigham was the standout swimmer for Waukee.
The talented junior anchored the Warriors to a win in the 400-yard freestyle relay even though they were in the third of four heats. Waukee swam a time of 3:29.09 to edge Iowa City West's 3:28.28.
Wigham also won individual titles in the 200 and 500 freestyles.
She completed the 200 in 1:50.12 to just beat out teammate Nora Kemp, who finished in 1:50.78. Wigham cruised to victory in the 500, completing the race in 4:56.64 to top Johnston's Faith Frantum by three seconds for the win.
Wigham was happy with her performance. She said she was even more pleased with how well everyone else did to bring home that first state team championship.
"Sure, I did well, but winning this championship isn't just about me," Wigham said. "It's amazing. Thinking back to all the people who tried to do it and didn't, it's just amazing to see the growth we had."
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Ames scored 260 points. The Little Cyclones have finished no lower than second at state since winning their first of nine championships in 2010.
Little Cyclone head coach Joe Fisher was quick to credit Waukee for its impressive performance.
"Coming into this meet we had no doubt Waukee was going to be running away with this and they did," Fisher said. "They swam lights out from start to finish."
But on a day where legendary head coach Dan Flannery was inducted into the hall of fame, Ames still had plenty to celebrate.
The Little Cyclones won four events and they all involved senior Meghan Donald, who was named athlete of the year at the conclusion of the meet.
"Meghan is a gem," Fisher said. "I'd put Meghan up against anyone at the tail end of a relay. That was just exciting to watch."
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Donald anchored Ames to dramatic victories in both the 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays.
Donald's hand touched the wall at 1:44.14 in the medley to beat Waukee's 1:44.17. Jordon Kloth, Andra Robertson and Mikayla Kloth swam the first three legs for Ames.
In the 200 freestyle relay the Ames team of Sophie McCorkle, Saylor Horras, Mikayla Kloth and Donald finished in 1:35 flat to again nose out Waukee (1:35.37).
Donald also repeated as an individual state champion in the 100 and 50 freestyle races.
Donald won a thrilling battle with Cedar Falls' Grace Frericks in the 100 free. She swam a 50.49 to Frericks' 50.65.
In the 50 free Donald and Mikayla Kloth went 1-2 with respective times of 23.17 and 23.79.
"I swam for my team," Donald said. "That's always how I've been. I wouldn't swim as fast any other way. Amazing way to finish off the season."
Iowa City West edged Dowling Catholic for third out of the 32 competing teams with 216 points to the Maroons' 215.
Waterloo East's Avery Hogan won the diving competition on Friday. Hogan scored a 470.1 to just beat out Grinnell's Trista Thompson (469.45) for the victory.