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Make it 3: Saulman back to form for state

Make it 3: Saulman back to form for state
Make it 3: Saulman back to form for state
Corydon Central's Gracie Saulman takes off in the 100-yard freestyle on Saturday. The junior placed second in the race but earlier won the individual medley to earn a spot at state. Photo by Brian Smith

Gracie Saulman admits her season hasn’t gone as planned. Sure, she’s won a bulk of her races during the high school season, but times hadn’t been coming down for the junior.
At Saturday’s Floyd Central Sectional final, at Highland Hills Middle School, Saulman knocked her time in the 200-yard individual medley down to her season’s best. It may not have been her career best, but the time of 2:06.54 put a smile on Saulman’s face. She also touched the wall first, by more than three seconds, punching her ticket for a third time to the state final.
‘I’ve had a rough season,’ Saulman said. ‘I honestly wasn’t sure I’d even go under a 2:10. This whole season I have been adding so much time. To see a 2:06, it wasn’t my best ever; I am happy with it.’
Saulman had a prelim swim time of 2:13.46 on Thursday but came back to shave off plenty of time for the victory in the IM.
‘I went into the race with a different mindset,’ Saulman said. ‘At other meets, I wasn’t as confident.’
Heading back to state, Saulman said she is proud of herself.
‘I put in a lot of time,’ she said. ‘I wasn’t sure I would make it this year due to the way I had been swimming. It’s a big relief.’
Also entered in the 100 freestyle, Saulman nearly qualified for state in that event as well. She wasn’t able to place first overall (only first-place finishers and those meeting a state standard advance to state) and was a few tenths off the standard. Winning the 100 free was Jeffersonville standout Rachel Walker. She swam the event in 51.63 seconds, followed by Saulman in 52.64. Floyd Central’s Emma Love (53.54) was third.
‘Rachel isn’t really a sprinter; she’s known more as a distance swimmer,’ Saulman said. ‘When I first saw she was doing the 100 free, it was an ‘Oh no.’ She’s really good. I had to worry about her and Emma. It makes you nervous.’
Team-wise, Floyd Central won with a total of 490.5 points, followed by Jeffersonville (466.5). Corydon Central (130) was sixth, North Harrison (108) eighth and Lanesville (four) was 16th.
The Lady Panthers finished fifth in a pair of relay events. In the 200 medley, Corydon Central’s Emily Wiseman, Melissa King, Garcia Swords and Saulman swan in 2:03.91. North Harrison (Morgan Purser, Maddy Marinc, Hannah Ingle and Natalie Robertson) was sixth in 2:04.88.
In the 200 free relay, Corydon Central’s same foursome went in 1:47.97 to also place fifth.
‘The 2-free relay we were able to drop three seconds,’ Saulman said. ‘It was a good swim for us.’
North Harrison’s Rachel Purser, Maggie Tillquist, Ingle and Robertson were ninth in the 200 free relay in 1:47.97. Lanesville’s grouping of Erin Hayse, Marianne Brown, Sydney Coin and Lindsey Hayse (2:22.40) was 16th. The same Lady Eagles’ four were 16th in the medley relay.
In the meet closer, North Harrison was sixth in the 400 freestyle relay. Morgan Purser, Rachel Purser, Josie Hayes and Marinc swam in 4:19.28.
Individually, Marinc placed seventh in the 500 free, touching the final wall in the distance event in 5:46.82. Teammate Morgan Purser (6:11.81) was 12th.
Corydon Central sophomore Melissa King made a pair of finals. She went for fifth place in the 100 backstroke (1:03.43) and eighth in the 100 butterfly (1:06.73). In the breast, NH’s Morgan Purser (1:12.82) was 12th and Corydon Central’s Wiseman (1:16.53) was 14th. North Harrison’s Brooke Comer (13th, 1:12.70) and Hannah Ingle (14th, 1:15.780) also competed in the butterfly.
Other notable finishes included North Harrison’s Maggie Tillquist (11th, 1:21.76) in the breaststroke, North Harrison’s Natalie Robertson (15th, 27.60) and Corydon Central’s Emily Wiseman (16th, 28.63) in the 50 free along with North Harrison’s Rachel Purser (16th, 2:21.11) in the 200 free.
Saulman will swim in Friday’s prelims of the 200-yard individual medley, coming off the block in lane two of the second heat. There are four heats for the event. The best 16 times return for competitive on Saturday with the top eight vying for state championship honors. Those finishing ninth through 16th will make up the competitions in the consolation heats.
‘I’m hoping to go back down to 2:05,’ Saulman said about her state goals. ‘Since I’m only in one event, I will focus on the IM. I want to make it back to compete on Saturday.’
Admission to the state finals, at the Indiana University Natatorium on the Indiana University-Purdue University campus in Indianapolis, will be $8 per session or $15 for both days.

Team scores: 1. Floyd Central 490.5, 2. Jeffersonville 466.5, 3. Seymour 256, 4. Jennings County 192, 5. New Albany 184, 6. Corydon Central 130, 7. Southwestern Hanover 114, 8. North Harrison 108, 9. Switzerland County 71, 10. Providence 66, 11. Scottsburg 60, 12. Madison 36, 13. Charlestown 35, 14. Silver Creek 26, 15. Salem 20, 16. Lanesville 4.
Individual results (first place advances to state final): 200 medley relay ‘ 1. Jeffersonville (Bonnie Dixon, Caroline Elliott, Sydney Sansbury, Megan McEwen) 1:49.33, 2. Floyd Central, 3. Seymour; 200 free ‘ 1. Rachel Walker (Jeff) 1:52.29, 2. Colleen Carey (FC), 3. Sydney Sansbury (Jeff); 200 IM ‘ 1. Gracie Saulman (Cory) 2:06.54, 2. Hallie Dixon (Jeff), 3. Anna Perkins (FC); 50 free ‘ 1. Emma Love (FC) 24.36, 2. Greer Manger (NA), 3. Megan McEwen (Jeff); 1 meter diving ‘ 1. Hailey Brown (JC) 402.3, 2. Anya Davenport (FC), 3. Madison Roehrs (Prov); 100 fly ‘ 1. Lauren Thompson (FC) 56.90, 2. Sydney Sansburg (Jeff), 3. Bonnie Dixon (Jeff); 100 free ‘ 1. Rachel Walker (Jeff) 51.63, 2. Gracie Saulman (Cory), 3. Emma Love (FC); 500 free ‘ 1. Hallie Dixon (Jeff) 5:14.02, 2. Colleen Carey (FC), 3. Erin Perkins (FC); 200 free relay ‘ 1. Floyd Central (Emma Love, Lauren Thompson, Grace Allen, Colleen Carey) 1:39.84, 2. Jeffersonville, 3. New Albany; 100 back ‘ 1. Lauren Thompson (FC) 56.60, 2. Bonnie Dixon (Jeff), 3. Katie Turner (Sey); 100 breast ‘ 1. Greer Manger (NA) 1:08.73, 2. Caroline Elliott (Jeff), 3. Mary Kate Prichett (Sey); 400 free relay ‘ 1. Jeffersonville (Rachel Walker, Sydney Sansbury, Sydney Flora, Hallie Dixon) 3:42.16, 2. Floyd Central, 3. New Albany.