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THE BIG FINISH

Dodgers working toward memorable conclusion

Submitted photo/Kim Peimann Fort Dodge girls state swim qualifiers include, front row (left to right): Grace Hartley, Rylie Steinkamp and Claire Kienzle. Back: Eileen Fierke and Raegan Wooldridge.

MARSHALLTOWN — There was a time when Ashley Beaumont wasn’t quite sure a swim season would happen this fall.

But Beaumont and the Fort Dodge girls have made it through, and will have six events in action at the state meet here beginning Friday at the Marshalltown YMCA/YWCA.

Prelims and diving take place Friday, with the finals set for Saturday.

Senior Grace Hartley and sophomore Eileen Fierke each qualified in two individual events, and will also swim on the 200 freestyle and 200 medley relays along with Rylie Steinkamp, Raegan Wooldridge and Claire Kienzle.

“At the beginning of the year, most of us didn’t think we’d make it to this point,” Beaumont said. “Especially with no one getting sick. But we did. And our girls are extremely determined to finish off on a good note.”

Hartley, Steinkamp and Fierke are all state veterans, having competed against the best of the best over the years.

“Grace, Eileen and Rylie are some of the toughest swimmers I have coached,” Beaumont said. “They have what it takes to do well. Both Grace and Eileen are pushing to compete and make it to finals Saturday in both of their individual events.”

Hartley enters state with the 13th-fastest time in the 100 breaststroke at 1:08.51, and the 16th-best time in the 200 individual medley at 2:12.81.

Fierke won regional titles in both the 100 breaststroke and 200 freestyle in the Dodger pool last Saturday. Her 100 breaststroke time of 1:07.47 ranks fourth in the state, and her 200 freestyle time of 1:55.96 has her seventh.

Wooldridge, a freshman, and Steinkamp, a senior, were part of the 200 medley relay in a time of 1:54.81, with Steinkamp and Kienzle finishing the 200 free relay in 1:44.34. Kienzle is also a senior for the Dodgers.

“I’m so excited to swim this weekend with such a great group of girls,” Steinkamp said. “I’ve grown up swimming with Grace, Eileen and Raegan, and I’ve swam with Claire for the past four years now. I wouldn’t be where I’m at right now without my team and Ashley’s support.

“We’ve all been working really hard this season even though this year has been so unpredictable, but this weekend, all that hard work pays off. It’s such a great feeling to be able to represent the Dodgers at the state level.”

Last year, Hartley and Fierke were part of the 13th-place 400 freestyle relay for FDSH, with both also swimming on the 200 freestyle relay and in the 500 freestyle.

“It has been a while since we have qualified the medley relay, but we have such a great mix of swimmers we knew all season we had to go for it,” Beaumont said. “And the 200 free relay is something that we have always qualified for, but we lost a couple of swimmers from last year. Claire and Raegan have both stepped up to fill in some important roles.

“I know this is going to be a great weekend. State is definitely going to look and sound different this year, but our girls are going to put up a terrific showing.”

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