By JIM MISUNAS
GARDEN CITY — Great Bend’s 200-yard freestyle relay swung the momentum for an unprecedented 16th consecutive Western Athletic Conference girls swimming championship.
The Panthers (415) earned 56 points in the 200 freestyle relay to gain 24 points on the runner-up Buffaloes (375). The other key events were a 2-3-4 finish by Calista Long (1:11.42), Sheridan Beaumont and Rachel Panzer in the 100-yard backstroke; and a 2-3-4 finish in the 100-yard breaststroke by Olivia Mull (1:18.69), Elizabeth Gadres and Alexis Ibarra.
The Panthers celebrated in the pool as is customary for the WAC champions.
The Panthers’ quartet of Aubrey Snapp, Zoe Jerke, Delaney Buehler and Camryn Dunekack won the 200 relay (1:49.95) by a split second (1:50.0) over Dodge City. The Panthers finished third and fifth in the relay.
“What an incredible meet,” said Great Bend coach Steve Beaumont. “Anytime we go to Garden City, we know we’re going to get their best shot and it’s such a tough place to swim. Garden City is a great team with really talented swimmers.”
Beaumont said it required a strong effort to earn the victory.
Camryn Dunekack captured the 50 freestyle (26.84) and finished runner-up in the 100 butterfly (1:03.98). Katherine Snapp placed third in the 500 freestyle.
Aubrey Snapp captured first in the 100 freestyle (59.4) and placed second in the 200 freestyle (2:15.33) and Zoe Jerke placed third (2:15.53).
“That was probably the best we have swam there in many years,” Beaumont said. “Three of the last four events — we really dominated. We swam great when it counted most. These girls swam great and didn’t back down. Our depth started to show towards the second half of the meet.”
Beaumont said the girls worked hard to achieve their goal. The Buffaloes led in the first half of the meet.
The Panthers finished third, fourth, fifth in the 200-yard medley relay. They finished second, third, fifth in the 400-yard freestyle relay.
“Coach Keith Moeder and I are thrilled for our seniors,” Beaumont said. “The underclassmen wanted to send them out with a WAC title and they swam so hard to make sure that happened. To see them swim hard for each other is really special. It brought out their best. This group of seniors is a very special group. They have battled hard and have been so key to our success over the last four years.”
“We have focused all season on improving as a team every race and every meet in order to be ready to swim our best at this meet. Everything just came together so well.”
PANTHER STATE QUALIFIERS
200 free relay
400 free relay
200 medley relay
Camryn Dunekack—50 free, 100 free, 100 butterfly
Olivia Mull—100 breaststroke; #200 IM
Calista Long—100 butterfly
Aubrey Snapp—100 free, #50 free, #200 free, #200 IM
Zoe Jerke -- #40 free, #100 free
Ruth Williams -- #100 butterfly
Katherine Snapp -- #200 IM