Sacred Heart girls dominate state swim meet

mmaloney@herald-leader.comFebruary 23, 2013 

LOUISVILLE — James Luebbe let his swimmers do the talking Saturday.

Luebbe, coach of the Sacred Heart girls, watched as his Valkyries won eight of 12 finals to capture team honors in the Panell Swim Shop/KHSAA Swimming and Diving Championships.

Sacred Heart totaled 441.5 points for its 24th state title. Defending champion Manual was runner-up with 284, followed by Notre Dame, Louisville Christian and Paul Laurence Dunbar.

"It's a very special group of girls. I am just honored to be a part," Luebbe said.

Soaked after a victory dunk with his team, Luebbe referred further questions to his athletes at the University of Louisville's Ralph Wright Natatorium.

"We did awesome. It was so much fun," said Leah Stevens, named the Most Outstanding Competitor. "There was such great team spirit, and we really just got behind each other and supported each other, and I think we all competed our very best."

Stevens, a sophomore, defended her title in the 200-yard freestyle (1:48.35) and broke her own meet record in the 500 free (4:43.38). She also swam on the 200 and 400 free relays, and the Valkyries made it a relay sweep by taking the medley event.

"I felt very good about my races," Stevens said. "I was very happy with my times, and I was just excited to get out there and race against all my friends."

In addition to Stevens' two wins and the relay sweep, Sacred Heart got first-place finishes from Asia Seidt in the 100 backstroke and Kennedy Lohman in the 100 breaststroke.

SHA's Erin Duffey won on the 1-meter diving board, 455.65 to 447.30 for Highlands' Carly Hill. Bryan Station's Kara Fredlock was third with 408.95.

Manual had a double winner in Sarah Love, who took the 50- and 100-yard freestyles.

Cooper's Sharli Brady defended her title in the 200 individual medley, and Louisville Christian's Hannah Magnuson edged Maggie Patterson of Paris to snare the 100 butterfly.

The top result by a Lexington swimmer went to Dunbar freshman Madison Winstead.

"It's so great," she said as she clutched her first-team all-state plaque. "I can't even put into words how happy I am about it.

"It was good. A lot better than I ever expected to do today. After regionals, I didn't really set high expectations because I didn't know if I could go much better, but very happy with it."

After placing fifth in the 100-yard butterfly, Winstead was runner-up in the breaststroke, just ahead of Paris' Patterson.

"I always like when I see my friends right beside me, and I know that we're all out there to help each other during the race," she said. "And then, afterwards, we're ready to hug each other and congratulate each other. I just felt good the whole time."

Winstead also helped the Bulldogs place third in the medley relay, and fifth in the 400 free relay.

"I am so happy with our relays. It's always amazing that we're doing so well, to be outside of Louisville," she said. "I just have so much fun with them, and I'm really happy where we placed in all of our relays."

Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Twitter: @markmaloneyhl. Blog:

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