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FINISH UP STRONG

Hartley breaks school records; Dodgers shine at state

Photo by Kent Keith Grace Hartley of Fort Dodge starts her 500 freestyle race at the state meet in Marshalltown on Saturday.

MARSHALLTOWN — Grace Hartley and her teammates gave Fort Dodge girls swim fans a glimpse into the future by embracing the present at the state meet on Friday and Saturday.

Hartley established two new school records during the preliminary rounds, then secured a Top-10 finish in the 500 freestyle finals to lead the Dodgers’ efforts against Iowa’s best at the Marshalltown YMCA.

Hartley, just a sophomore, swam an FDSH all-time best 5:11.00 on Friday to reach the “A” final in the 500, which takes the Top-8 qualifiers in each event. Her 5:12.24 on Saturday was good for eighth overall.

“Grace is just so cool under pressure,” Dodger head coach Ashley Beaumont said. “It was really exciting to see her perform like this. There’s just a sense of calm about her that resonates with her teammates.

“She had a terrific weekend.”

Hartley also clocked a program-best 2:11.84 on Friday in the 200 individual medley, which placed her as the No. 5 seed in the “B” finals. Hartley’s 2:12.89 on Saturday was 13th overall and fifth in the consolation finals.

Hartley also clocked a program-best 2:11.84 on Friday in the 200 individual medley, which placed her as the No. 5 seed in the “B” finals. Hartley’s 2:12.89 on Saturday was 13th overall and fifth in the consolation finals.

Both of Hartley’s performances in the prelims bested the FDSH efforts of her sister, Taylor, who is now swimming for the University of Iowa.

“It felt really good to break those records,” Grace said. “My goal from the beginning of the season was to break at least one school record, so getting two made me really happy.

“It also felt special to me because they were my sister’s records.”

Junior Luanne Xiao, who established a pair of new Dodger all-time marks of her own at regionals in the 100 backstroke and 50 freestyle, was 12th in the former (58.55) and 29th in the latter (25.25).

The Dodgers’ 400 freestyle relay quartet of Hartley, Xiao, junior Madigan Peimann and junior Elora Fierke finished 13th in 3:40.77 — a season-best time.

Peimann was 20th in the preliminaries of the 200 freestyle with a 1:59.06. She also registered a 55.61 in the 100 freestyle for 29th place.

Fierke placed 28th in the 200 IM at 2:16.16, and 29th in the 100 breaststroke (1:11.53).

Hartley, Xiao, Peimann and sophomore Rylie Steinkamp went 1:42.25 for 19th place in the 200 free relay.

“It was a great way to wrap up the season and start looking ahead,” Beaumont said. “To have all five of the (state qualifiers) back for next year is going to be huge for us. I can’t wait to see what another offseason of work will do not just for our top swimmers, but everyone else involved in the program. This gives us some nice momentum moving forward.”

Fort Dodge finished 17th as a team with 28 points. Ames captured yet another state championship, nearly doubling up second-place finisher Bettendorf (372 points to 194) for the program’s eighth title in the last nine seasons.

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