McPherson swimmers set three school records in AVCTL meet

Dylan Sherwood
Salina Journal
McPherson’s Danica Brunk takes a breath while competing in the 200-yard individual medley in the Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League Division II-IV Championships at Salina South natatorium on Friday. Brunk finished in first place with a time of 2:16.84.

SALINA— Danica Brunk is making a splash as a freshman for the McPherson girls swim team.

On Friday, Brunk was a part of three school records that all finished in first-place at the Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League Division II-IV Championships held at the Salina South Natatorium.

Brunk won the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 2:16.84 She swam a 53.03 in the 100-yard freestyle also breaking the South Natatroium's pool record. Brunk along with Alexis Smith, Kierstan Trost and Marissa Pearcy set a league record of 1:44.04 in the 200-yard freestyle relay.

Not only did McPherson set three school records, Brunk, Pearcy, Trost and Zoey Whorton swam a league record 3:49.06 in the 400-yard freestyle relay.

"It's exciting and that I have a lot more to come in the future," Brunk said. "We knew what we have been practicing for. We knew the times, so it helped to have them as motivation for practice."

McPherson coach Abby Bradstreet said Brunk is one of the most determined and motivated swimmers she's ever coached. Bruck has been swimming since she was 8-years-old. 

"She is also an extremely well-rounded swimmer and can basically be successful in any event she swims, which is hard to pull off," Bradstreet said.  "If she wants something and sets her mind to it, there is going to be nothing that stops her. Her work ethic definitely pays off in the pool.

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"The fact that she is so young and realizes that hard work, dedication, and mental toughness will get you so far in the world of swimming goes, is incredible. I am so proud of all of her accomplishments this season and cannot wait to see what she does for her remaining 3 years on our team." 

Behind Brunk, the Bullpups finished second behind Andover with 254 points. Bradstreet said Friday's meet was the best meet she's ever coached. 

"We always head into this meet kind of down because our Co-Op swimmers are not allowed to swim for McPherson High School during any post-season swim meets," Bradstreet said. "They have to break off onto their own team of Smoky Valley High School. Because of this, we go from an extremely competitive team of 17 to 8 swimmers, which is significantly lower than most teams who compete at the AVCTL meet.

"However, today really showed us that no matter how small our team becomes, we have the depth and talent to still compete with the bigger schools. Today, more than ever, truly helps us prepare for the State meet because it gives us that confidence boost we needed going into the next stage of competition. This group of girls now know what they are capable of and are determined to go out and try for several gold medals at the state meet."

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Andover High School swimmer Natalie Neugent swims past McPherson’s Marissa Pearcy during the 200-yard freestyle in the Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League Division II-IV Championships at Salina South natatorium on Friday. Neugent won first place with a time of 2:01.16 and Pearcy finished second with a time of 2:04.90.

Not only did Brunk have a good day in the pool, Pearcy finished second in the 500-yard freestyle (5:44.99), Trost took third in the 100-yard backstroke (1:06.17), which earned her a spot in Saturday's state meet. 

"Honestly, every single one of the girls who swam today impressed me," Bradstreet said. "Alexis Smith and Zoey Whorton both dropped time on their relay splits which is incredibly hard to do, and Emily Heskett also had some huge time drops in her individual events. Marissa Pearcy was impressive due to the fact that she had an unfortunate false start which disqualified her from the 200 freestyle today. However, she pushed through that setback, moved forward in the meet, and ended up doing extremely well in her remaining events.

"Skylar Nutt and Zoe McHenry also had a couple amazing swims in some of their personal best events today.  We had some excitement from our Smoky Valley girls as well with our 200 Freestyle Relay of Avery Van Der Wege, Olivia Mader, Adrien Lochard, and Karik Elliott qualifying for state by over 3 seconds. They have been working hard for that spot all season so it was fun to watch them earn it today. Elliott also had a personal best swim which earned her a state time in the 100 freestyle. This is an amazing group of girls and I could not be more proud of them." 

The Bullpups will head to Topeka for the Class 5-1A State Championships to be held at Capitol Federal Natatorium on Saturday.