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Written By StaceyPageOnline / Sports on Friday, February 10, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS – The hopes of a pair of local swim programs are still alive heading into the finals of the IHSAA Girls Swimming State Finals.

In prelims at the IUPUI Natatorium Friday evening, Warsaw’s Brenna Morgan and Wawasee’s Paige Miller both performed well enough to qualify for the finals in two events each. Both, however, had to really work to slide in to a couple spots. Miller looked solid in the 500 freestyle, coming in as the No. 1 seed after the sectional round and finished seventh Friday, clocking 4:57.78. Miller dropped her 200 freestyle time down to 1:50.95, but only grabbed the last championship slot by .06 after all the heats shaped out.

Warsaw’s Brenna Morgan is qualified for two championship swims at the IHSAA Girls Swimming State Finals, reaching the finals of the 50 and 100 freestyles. (Photos by Mike Deak)

“We definitely saw some things we need to work on for tomorrow,” said Wawasee head coach Julie Robinson. “I think in the 500 she was just a bit too relaxed. She felt great in her 200 and felt great in the water, making top eight. She checked that off and then just cruised through the 500. Tomorrow, we’re going to come back and fine tune some details that come with the 500.”

Morgan had a bit of excitement in her Friday night, having to go to a swimoff after 50 freestyle times were all tabulated. Morgan, along with Emily Barnes of Hamilton Southeastern and Madison Blakesley of South Bend Riley, all produced a 23.65. The rare feat was made more unique in that the three times overlapped the championship cutoff, where seventh, eighth and ninth place would have to be determined. The top eight goes to the finals, 9-16 swim consolations.

So the three were trotted out to swim in front of the state after the post-50 break was over. And not surprisingly, the three were almost identical off the wall on the home stretch. Somehow, Morgan made up a half-stroke on Blakesley in the final 10 yards to take ‘first’ (seventh) with an even-better 23.44, Morgan’s best-ever swim in the event. Blakesley tapped at 23.46 and poor Barnes was wedged out of a championship try with a 23.71.

Morgan took the momentum back to the blocks about 10 minutes later in the 100 prelims, and had a more definitive showing with a fifth-place time of 51.36.

Warsaw had a handful of others working Friday night, but none will return for Saturday swims.

Worst job in the business – lifeguard at a swim championship.

The medley relay was 26th with their 1:52.52 and Lauren Kuhl finished 32nd in the 500 with a 5:41.27. Delaney Wihebrink made her second-straight two-event return to Indianapolis, but still hasn’t broken through for a Saturday swim. The sophomore was 26th in the backstroke, her signature event, at 59.23, and 29th in the individual medley at 2:14.72.

“That timidness, that nervousness that we have had the past couple years coming down here, I think that is slowly dissolving,” said Warsaw head coach Tony DeBrota. “You see that with Brenna leading. Delaney has a great backstroke. It doesn’t matter if it’s state or sectionals or a Tuesday night in conference, I need to see it. And we are seeing it. Getting a good time here would be a big step forward. That shows we can compete here against some of the best. That to me shows success, and with success breeds confidence, whether it’s one person or 15 people.”

The Northern Lakes Conference, home to Wawasee and Warsaw, will have eight more swims on Saturday and all are coming from Northridge. The Raider 200 and 400 free relays are both alive for championships after a seventh-place, 1:36.38 in the 200 and an eighth-place, 3:30.01 in the 400. Katie Hughes has the other lone Raider individual championship swim, placing sixth in the 500 with her 4:57.63, a huge comeback from her own disappointment after a twelfth-place 1:51.79 in the 200 freestyle. Sydnee Emerson just missed out on two title runs, finishing ninth in both the IM (2:02.91) and the butterfly (56.20).

Ridge’s medley relay will swim the consoles after taking 14th at 1:47.14 and Lauren Miller was 15th in the backstroke at 57.65.

Concord had seven slots at the state prelims, but failed to get anyone through to Saturday. The top Minuteman output was its medley relay that was 18th at 1:48.49.

Elkhart Central’s Sydney Dygert qualified for the consoles of the butterfly after taking 16th at 57.17.

Northridge will toss out three divers Saturday in Mary Grossman, Rylee Dahlman and regional champion Sara Troyer and Concord’s Lauren Boone will take her final crack at the state finals.

Diving prelims begin at 9 a.m. and resume during the swim finals, which start at 1 p.m. A footnote from the prelims is Carmel setting itself up to continue its national record in consecutive team championships, going for No. 31 in a row. The Greyhounds have five top seeds going into the finals, but have names peppered all over the top eights.

Posted In: Girl's Sports > Swimming and Diving