Hays swimmers show improvement at home meet

Rick Peterson Jr.
Hays Daily News
Hays High's Elizabeth Clingan competes in the 100-yard backstroke during the Hays High Invitational on Monday at the Center for Health Improvement. Clingan won the event in 1:15.13.

 A first-place finish from Elizabeth Clingan in the 100-yard backstroke and a pair of top-three finishes by relay teams highlighted the day for the Hays High girls swimming team in the Indians' home meet. 

Hays High coach Jane Rorstrom said she was encouraged by the Indians' overall showing in the Hays Invitational on Monday at the Center for Health Improvement. 

"We have a young team, and a lot of them improved their times," Rorstrom said. "We moved some things around today, so it wasn't all easy for them, and they did great."

Clingan, a sophomore, won the backstroke by more than seven seconds, finishing in 1:15.13.

"She's only a couple seconds away from state," Rorstrom said. "And this is her first year swimming with us."

The 200 medley relay team of Clingan, Grace Wente, Katie Christen and Taylor Deines helped get the meet off to a strong start. The team took second with a 2:20.18. 

The day also ended on a good note with Rilee Schwarz, Christen, Clingan and Deines taking third in the 400 freestyle relay with a 4:53.04. 

"That was the first time we put those girls together," Rorstrom said. 

Hays took fourth in the five-team meet with 353 points. Dodge City won with 508 points, followed by Junction City (438) and Holcomb (373). 

The Indians honored their two seniors, Christen and Deines, during the meet. Both swimmers addressed the crowd with comments about their swimming careers. 

"It was actually the girls idea to read their own today. That was pretty cool," Rorstrom said. "Normally we turn it in and the announcer reads it, but it meant a lot, and you could tell that swimming meant a lot to them, because they're both very emotional about it."

The team of Lauryn Miller, Schwarz, Chirsten and Deines tied for fourth in the 200 free relay. 

Kae Dees was sixth in both the 200 individual medley (3:57.46) and 100 butterfly. 

Christen was fifth in the 100 free (1:10.05). In the 100 breaststroke, Wente (1:34.47) and Miller (1:40.36) placed fourth and fifth, respectively. 

Mackenzie Hagerman placed fifth in both the 200 free (2:50.98) and 500 free (7:59.30). 

Rorstrom said her swimmers are on the right trajectory with two regular season meets left. 

"Mackenzie, she cut off 12 seconds on her 500; Elizabeth I think cut off four or five seconds," Rorstrom said. "... Many, many improvements. A lot of little steps of improvement, and that's awesome. That's what we like to see."

After seeing spring sports canceled last season because of the pandemic, Rorstrom said the team is grateful for the chance to compete.

"We're very thankful that we have a place to swim. Some people didn't even have that, so we're very thankful."

"It's a lot of work (to host a meet), but we appreciate that we get to do it at least once a season," Rorstrom added.