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Lady Panthers put wrap on swim season
Hildebrand, Damm qualify for finals
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Hannah Hildebrand, at left, and Allison Damm both advanced to Saturday's finals in two events at the Class 5-1A state swim meet at Hummer Sports Complex. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

TOPEKA — Fighting a two-hour, 40-minute lightning and tornado delay, the Great Bend High School girls' swim team had two state qualifiers make it to Saturday's finals of the Class 5-1A state meet.
Both sophomore Allison Damm and freshman Hannah Hildebrand competed in consolation heats of two events each in Topeka at Hummer Sports Complex.
Hildebrand took 14th place in the preliminary races in both the 100-yard butterfly and backstroke events.
Hildebrand finished the meet in 15th place in the 100 butterfly with a time of one minute, 8.39 seconds and 16th in the 100 backstroke with a time of  1:08.92.
"Hannah did really well," GBHS head coach Stephanie Maier said. "She was disappointed with herself. She wanted to improve her times in the state meet, but she still swam very well. She competed very well for a freshman."
Damm finished in 15th place in both of her events — the 200 and 500 freestyle — in the prelims.
Damm took 14th place in the 500 freestyle with a time of 6:05.89, and she touched in at 2:13.89 in the 200 freestyle for 16th place in the 200 freestyle.
"She looked really good with the fastest times of the season in both the prelims and the finals," Maier said. "Last year, she didn't swim in the 200 and I don't think she made it to the finals in the 500 so she definitely improved on last year."
Jessica Kuhlman took 21st place in the preliminary competition of the individual medley with a time of 2:41.19.
The Lady Panthers were entered into all three relays. The 200 medley relay took 17th place (2:08.65), the 200 freestyle relay took 19th (2:47.00) and the 400 freestyle relay took 20th (4:23.90).
"It was a good state meet," Maier said. "Our individuals did very well. I would have liked to see a relay make it to the finals, but we didn't have the swimmers at the state meet."
The top 20 finishes at state caps a productive season for the Lady Panthers that saw them take a ninth-straight Western Athletic Conference title.
Damm and Hildebrand were both first-team all-conference selections. 
"It was great," said Maier, who was selected as the WAC Coach of the Year for the 2011 spring season. "At the beginning of the season, we only had 17 girls on the team. That's a small team to be able to win with.
"But the girls worked hard and swam very well. They came out on top this year in the WAC."