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Dodgers host slimmed-down Winkler Invite

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Grace Hartley had three finishes in the top four on Saturday for Fort Dodge at the Gary Winkler Invitational.

There was a time when Grace Hartley wasn’t sure if she would get the chance to compete as a senior for the Fort Dodge girls swim team.

Now that she’s in the midst of her final season as a Dodger, Hartley is starting to experience mixed emotions.

Hartley recorded three Top-4 finishes and sophomore Eileen Fierke won the 200 freestyle as Fort Dodge placed fourth overall here Saturday at the Gary Winkler Invitational. Second-ranked West Des Moines Dowling captured the team champions with 590 points as No. 9 Cedar Falls placed second.

“It was really great that even with the circumstances, we were able to have all the teams come to Fort Dodge for the invite,” Hartley said. “Just being able to have a senior season has been amazing, even though it makes me sad that I know I am swimming these meets for the last time — especially this invite.”

A state qualifier, Hartley was third in the 500 freestyle in a time of 5:36.39. She also was fourth in the 200 individual medley with a time of 2:18.62.

“I know I am going to miss swimming with this team a lot when the season is over,” Hartley said.

Fierke clocked a time of 2:01.38 to claim the 200 freestyle, opening the event with a 28.3 split. She also had the lone runner-up finish, taking silver in the 100 breaststroke in a time of 1:11.04.

“Eileen had a strong swim in the 200 free and a good performance in the 100 breaststroke too,” FDSH head coach Ashley Beaumont said. “Grace had her best time of the season in the 500 and Rylie Steinkamp had her best time in the 100 fly putting herself in a great position thinking about state.

“Our medley relay and 200 free relay look like they have state on their minds as they swim, as well.”

Fierke swam the first leg and Hartley the final on the 200 medley relay with freshman Raegan Wooldridge and senior Rylie Steinkamp joining them. The quartet placed fourth in 1:58.65, with Hartley closing in 26.27.

Fierke, Steinkamp, Claire Kienzle and Hartley were also fourth in the 200 free relay in 1:48.62.

Steinkamp, another senior, placed fourth in the 100 butterfly with a time of 1:03.93 and was sixth in the 50 free.

Makenna Kammerer, Wooldridge, Rachel Moody and Kienzle finished sixth in the 400 free relay to conclude the meet, with Kienzle adding a ninth in the 200 free and a 10th in the 100 free.

Kammerer was ninth in the 200 I.M. and 10th in the 100 butterfly, with Wooldridge adding an eighth in the 100 breaststroke.

“It was definitely different this year with no prelims or diving, but our girls stepped up,” Beaumont said. “It was a great experience for some of our younger swimmers like Riley Binder, Rachel Moody and Raegan Wooldridge. They all had their best times of the year in their individual events.

“I am very proud of them going into the meet and pushing through this difficult competition.”

Fort Dodge is set to return to action on Sept. 29 at Southeast Polk.

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