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Dodgers finish strong at state

—Photo by Cposephoto Fort Dodge’s Eileen Fierke competes for the Dodgers at the state swim meet in Marshalltown on Saturday.

MARSHALLTOWN — Saturday’s state swim meet presented both a fitting conclusion and a glimpse into the future for Ashley Beaumont and the Fort Dodge girls.

Seniors Grace Hartley, Rylie Steinkamp and Claire Kienzle wrapped up their careers by competing against the best of the best here inside the Marshalltown YMCA/YWCA while underclassmen Eileen Fierke and Raegan Wooldridge showcased themselves for the upcoming seasons.

In all, the Dodgers finished with 33 team points and four Top-16 finishes.

“What an amazing way to end the season, having all six events swim at finals of the state meet,” Beaumont said. “I am so proud of our seniors, Grace, Rylie and Claire. I am so blessed to have worked with these athletes for the past four years. They have grown so much and their performances at this state meet shows how strong they are.”

Fierke, a sophomore, was sixth in the 200 freestyle and eighth in the 100 breaststroke, with Hartley placing 11th in the 100 breaststroke and 14th in the 200 individual medley.

Both were also part of the two relays that swam for FDSH, as the 200 medley was 24th with Steinkamp and Wooldridge while the 200 freestyle relay with Steinkamp and Kienzle was 26th.

Fierke, who captured a pair of regional titles to qualify for state for a second consecutive year, clocked a time of 1:55.22 in the 200 free, which was won by Iowa City West’s Aurora Roghair in 1:47.30. She had splits of 26.7, 28.6, 30.1 and 29.6.

“It was a great opportunity to race again,” Fierke said. “I was so glad my teammates and I got to go to state. We all sacrificed a lot to get there like our social lives. We knew if we got exposed, our season would be over.

“My goal was to make it into the A finals during both of my events. I exceeded that goal by getting on the podium in my 200 free. I’m so glad all the hard work and sacrifice paid off and I am very proud of my teammates and the season we had.”

In the 100 breaststroke, Fierke was just behind both the sixth and seventh place medalists with a time of 1:07.67 (31.7/35.9 splits. Johnston’s Olivia Swalley was the winner.

“Eileen making the podium as a sophomore and making both A finals was great,” Beaumont said. “Now our goal is to podium and hopefully reach the Top-3 in the state.”

Hartley, who continued the tradition set before her by sister and current University of Iowa swimmer Taylor Hartley, was third in the B final of the 100 breaststroke in 1:08.53 (32.0/36.4) and sixth in the 200 I.M. B final in 2:12.15 (28.7/34.0/37.9/31.4). Swalley was again the winner of that race.

“Competing at state this weekend was amazing,” Hartley said. “Although it felt pretty weird without fans, it’s always super exciting to be in that environment.”

Fierke, Steinkamp, Wooldridge and Hartley went 1:55.69 in the 200 medley including a split of 25.39 by Hartley in her final race as a Dodger. Fierke went 28.7, Steinkamp 34.1 and Wooldridge 27.3.

“It was extremely rewarding to be able to go and swim against the best girls in the state,” Hartley said. “It made me feel like all my hard work was worth it.”

Hartley, Steinkamp, Kienzle and Fierke had a time of 1:44.39 in the 200 free relay with Fierke closing it out in 25.22. Hartley opened with a 25.8 swim, Steinkamp went 26.8 and Kienzle 25.9.

Johnston won the 200 medley in 1:46.7 and Iowa City West the 200 free in 1:34.3.

Wooldridge, a student at Manson Northwest Webster, wrapped up her fall with a second state appearance after competing at state cross country.

“Raegan now has state experience under her belt,” Beaumont said. “I know she will work to be an individual qualifier soon.”

Ames captured its ninth team title in the past 11 years just a few months following the passing of legendary head coach Dan Flannery.

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