SALINA — It was a tight race for most of the afternoon at the Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division I Girls' Swimming and Diving Championships Saturday at the Salina South pool, but in the last five events, the Newton Railers were able to pull away for a comfortable win. Newton downed Salina South 318-267 for the team title. Salina Central was third at 249, followed by Hutchinson at 199, Derby at 123, Campus at 76 and Maize at 49. Newton and South captured titles in four events each. Central claimed two events. Derby and Hutchinson each won one event. The Railers claimed 11 of the 36 medals, followed by Central with nine and South with eight. "The last couple of meets, some girls were holding steady, some were cutting a little time and some were adding time," Newton coach Philip Schmidt said. "Overall, the girls swam great today. This is the time of year to be peaking. Some girls cut some significant time. We made some state times. Those new state times takes some pressure off me. We had some kids make state times in events that they may not be able to swim because we're so deep this year. Everybody who made state times will be able to swim in something." Newton scored in 11 of 12 events. The Railers have no divers this season. "We took 11th and 12th in the 50 (freestyle)," Schmidt said. "I wasn't expecting much out of those, and those girls stepped up with season best times. I was really pleased with how pumped up they were, how much support the girls gave each other. It made it much easier to coach. We did not have any issues this year. We had really good practices." The Railers win their second straight league title, eight in the last nine years and 15th overall. Seniors Kartrina Gerbrand and Hana Robinson each won two individual events and were members of two second-place relays. "It was kind of tiring on my legs, but they kind of stalled (before the 400-yard freestyle relay), which was nice," said Robinson, who had to swim the final two events of the meet on little rest. "I think that's what I will be doing at state. The coach was trying to prepare me for what that will be like. I cut two tenths off my breaststroke. I've been trying to break 2:16 on my breaststroke, so it was nice to do that today. Overall, the day went successful. The team did really well. We still have state." "(My times were) season bests, which was good," Gerbrand said. "That's what I was shooting for, and that's what I've got. I still have work to do before state. I need to work on my breatstroke leg in the (individual medley). We're hoping to do well at state as a team. ... I'm proud of all these girls. I can't do it by myself. We got a lot of good swims today, but we pulled it out." Newton's first win of the meet came in the 200-yard individual medley, where Gerbrand won in 2:22.87, a 1.81-second time cut. Gerbrand won the 100-yard backstroke in 1:05.40, a 1.58-second time cut. Emilie Holler finished third in 1:08.79. Erin Bergren finished in 1:09.70 to qualify for state. Robinson won the 500-yard freestyle in 5:51.38, a .36-second time cut. Holler was second in 6:00.66, a 4.57-second time cut. Olivia Sailors took fourth in 6:08.91, a 3.65-second time cut. Robinson won the 100-yard breaststroke in 1:15.91, followed by Stucky in third in 1:21.24. The 400-yard freestyle relay team of Holler, O'Meara, Robinson and Gerbrand finished second in 4:03.95. Newton edged Central for second by .01 seconds. The team of Gerbrand, Robinson, O'Meara and Holler took second in the 200-yard medley relay in 2:04.62, a season-best time by .24 seconds. The 200-yard freestyle relay team of Jessi Stucky, Sophia Miller, Courtney Spreier and Rebecca Schrag finished fourth in 1:56.86, a 2.75-second time cut. The team competed in the slow heat. In the 200-yard freestyle, Rebecca Schrag took second in 2:14.57, followed by Spreier in third in 2:16.97, Couchman in fourth in 2:17.26 and Jessi Stucky in fifth in 2:18.54. Schrag cut 4.74 seconds off her time and qualified for state. Spreier cut 1.81 seconds and Couchman cut 1.48 seconds. Schrag cut 2.15 seconds off her time in the 100-yard freestyle to finish in 1:02.12, meeting the state consideration time. Despite swimming in a slower heat, Schrag finished third. In the 100-yard butterfly, O'Meara took fourth in 1:08.78. The Class 5-4-3-2-1A State Swimming and Diving Championships are Friday and Saturday at the Capital Federal Natatorium, Hummer Sports Park in Topeka. Prelims are 4 p.m. Friday. Finals are 3 p.m. Saturday. "We need to focus on the next three days and bring that energy to state," Schmidt said. "At state, it's a lot harder. ... Now it's just the girls putting in another strong, hard week to get ready."
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