CLINTON — Trailing by one point heading into the final event, the Clinton girls swim team had one final chance to get the edge over Tipton Thursday night.
And the River Queens delivered.
The 400-yard relay team of senior Molly Shannon, freshman Jordyn Klinkhammer, junior Sarah Hilgendorf and junior Jayden Kissack placed first (4:34.73) to help seal an 85-78 win over Tipton in the team’s home opener.
“I don’t see it as a growth year, but I see it as a building year and this win was really needed to build off of what we already had and losing one of our top two swimmers last year, and losing one this year,” Shannon said. “It was so rewarding to see what we could do with the team that we have.
“And this relay — just being able to start strong and finish strong with a team that usually doesn’t swim together, we really put it together.”
It was only the second first-place finish for the River Queens on the day, the other coming from senior Rhianna Clark in the 100 breaststroke after she won with a time of 1:31.69.
“We were pretty tight all the way down and we just happened to outscore them in the breaststroke and then being able to win that last relay was just enough to get us over the top,” Clinton coach Albert Hayton said. “The last two events is what got us where we needed to be.”
For Clark, her win in the breaststroke was a confidence boost.
“It made me feel pretty good, honestly, considering I’ve been in JV for a couple years,” Clark said. “This is my first year on varsity, so it felt pretty good to get as varsity win. Last year I was kind of in between, so this year I’m really happy and I’m definitely going to work for it and stay on varsity.
“I’m really excited to bond with some of the newer girls coming in and making our own new family.”
While Clark hopes to provide leadership for Clinton this year, Shannon is taking her role as team captain even more seriously as a senior.
“I’m so glad I get the opportunity to be team captain for the second year in a row and it’s just such a blessing we even get to swim,” Shannon said. “I’m just so beyond blessed with this amazing, supportive team — you can see all the cheering in spite of us all with our masks on, you could tell everybody was passionate, so that was such a good point for us.”
She said the team’s motto is straightforward.
“For everybody as a whole, dropping times and staying positive no matter what,” Shannon said. “Swimming can be so hard and people don’t understand that always.”
Hilgendorf, Shannon, Klinkhammer and Kissack placed second in the 200 medley relay (2:10.19). Shannon placed second in the 200 freestyle (2:22.78) and the 100 backstroke (1:10.77). Sarah Klinkhammer placed second in the 200 individual medley (3:04.41). Jordyn Klinkhammer placed second in the 100 butterfly (1:16.03). Hilgendorf placed second in the 50 freestyle (30.27) and 100 freestyle (1:08.23). Emily Frye placed second in the 500 freestyle (7:43). The relay team of Sarah Klinkhammer, Clark, Frye and Bailey Klinkhammer placed second in the 200 freestyle relay (2:16.79).
“They’re all working hard,” Hayton said. “Everyone’s getting adjusted to this new school schedule, this new lifestyle, practices — you’re at school one day, then home the next day and back to school and still coming to practice.
“It throws them all off, but they’re working through it, they’re getting themselves in the right direction and doing a good job.”