Quintet of Dodger events ready to make waves at state

Photo by Kent Keith, for The Messenger State qualifiers for the Fort Dodge swim team are, front row, left to right, Morgan Border, Luanne Xiao and Grace Hartley. Back: Madigan Peimann, Elora Fierke and Taylor Hartley.

MARSHALLTOWN — The 2017 girls state swim meet on Saturday will mark the end of one era and the beginning of another for the Fort Dodge girls swim program.

Dodger senior Taylor Hartley’s brilliant prep career comes to an end at the Marshalltown YMCA, but five underclassmen — all either freshmen or sophomores — will accompany the University of Iowa recruit this weekend and give FDSH fans a glimpse into the squad’s future.

”Taylor is really ready,” head coach Ashley Beaumont said. ”She’s been working toward this all year long, and I think she’s as physically and mentally prepared as she can be for this kind of opportunity.

”State’s always been the end goal, and we’re really hoping she makes another push for the medal stand (Top-6) in both of her individual events.”

Hartley qualified in both the 200 and 500 freestyle, with the 13th and 10th best regional-qualifying times in those events. She clocked a 1:56.02 in the 200 and a 5:12.34 in the 500 at Ankeny last Saturday, earning a regional championship with her performance in the latter race.

Last season, Hartley — a four-year varsity regular — was sixth in the 200 and eighth in the 500 at state in 1:53.68 and 5:11.01, respectively.

”She’s such a strong leader and good person,” Beaumont said of her captain, who also maintains a perfect 4.0 grade point average in the classroom. ”Taylor is going to be the guide for these freshmen and sophomores (on Saturday), as she has been all season. We couldn’t ask for a better role model. Her work ethic has been second to none.”

Hartley, a school record-holder in four individual events and as a member of two relays, will also join sophomore Luanne Xiao, sophomore Madigan Peimann and freshman Grace Hartley in the 400 freestyle relay, which registered the 12th-best qualifying time (3:41.83). By the end of Saturday’s meet, Hartley will have participated in 12 career state events.

Xiao will also be competing in the 100 backstroke (59.89, No. 12 seed), and the 200 free relay of Grace Hartley, sophomore Elora Fierke, sophomore Morgan Border and Peimann (1:43.70, No. 22 seed) is preparing for action as well.

”Our 400 free relay is capable of reaching the podium,” Beaumont said. ”They were only two seconds off the school record at regionals, so right away, they talked about getting that done (at state). I’m extremely excited to see what they can do.

”The 200 free relay was happy to qualify and will gain invaluable experience down there. And Luanne also has a goal of breaking the school record in the 100 back. Like Taylor, she’s rested and ready to move her way up.”

Only Taylor Hartley, Xiao and Peimann were here last season. Saturday will be the state debuts for Grace Hartley, Border and Fierke.

”We have so many strong sophomores and freshmen; we’re really looking forward to the future,” Beaumont said. ”It’s great to have Taylor, Luanne and Madigan here again, and Grace, Morgan and Elora are just getting started.”