TOPEKA — Wichita Independent freshman Chesley Kilgore sought out advice from older brother Christian prior to the Class 5-1A girls swimming championships.
Good place to go, considering he captured a pair of state titles during the boys season in the winter.
"He just told me to be prepared to race, get out there with tunnel vision and don't be worried about the other swimmers," Chesley said.
So when St. Thomas Aquinas' Megan Greving was charging hard to Kilgore's right during Saturday's final of the 50-yard freestyle, Kilgore remembered her brother's words.
"I really just put my head down and race and don't look around," Kilgore said. "I know that once I get into that zone and get in that sprint mindset, it's just about finishing strong."
Kilgore did, holding off Greving to capture the first of two individual titles in Saturday's finals at Capitol Federal Natatorium. The Panther came back to dominate the 100 freestyle and anchor the 400 freestyle relay team in helping Independent finish second.
Aquinas took the team title with 329 1/2 points, but Independent easily finished second with 252 points.
"It's really exciting," said Independent sophomore Brooke Brittain, who added a state title in the 100-yard backstroke and a runner-up finish in the 100 butterfly to help the Panthers' cause. "Swimming is kind of unrecognized at our school, so maybe a second-place finish people won't overlook us."
Kilgore and Brittain captured the only titles for Wichita-area swimmers at the meet, but did so in impressive fashion.
Kilgore entered with the fastest qualifying time in both of her events, by a rather wide margin. But Greving gave the freshman all she wanted in the 50 free. Kilgore finished in 24.43 seconds, edging Greving at 25.07.
"I could feel her next to me," Kilgore said. "On that second 25, I really wanted to bring it home and luckily I pulled it out."
She wasn't tested in the 100, taking early control of the race and cruising to a win of nearly three seconds in 53.88. After the race, Kilgore gave a little fist pump to celebrate her second title, which matched her brother's effort in February.
"When I get really excited and feel great, I do that," said Kilgore, who swam her best time of the season. "It was unbelievable."
Based on qualifying, Brittain didn't figure to be tested much in the 100 back as her Friday time of 1:00.91 was more than 1 1/2 seconds faster than anyone else. But Andover Central's Gina Cernohous stuck with Brittain the entire way before Brittain pulled away late to win in 1:00.67 to Cernohous' 1:01.57.
"I've swam club with her for years, so I was expecting her to be right there," said Brittain, who finished second to Greving in the 100 butterfly. "I could see her there on every turn. I didn't think it would be easy at all. It actually helps me, getting that kind of competition."
Cernohous had to settle for a pair of seconds, coming up short in her bid to win a state title. After qualifying first in the 200 individual medley, Cernohous couldn't hold off Topeka Hayden's Kristin Strecker and finished second in 2:13.04. Strecker won in 2:12.08.
Kapaun Mount Carmel's 200 freestyle relay also entered Saturday's final with a top qualifying mark, but like Cernohous couldn't quite deliver the title. The Crusader foursome of Marisa Meyer, Leah Grant, Katie McGreevy and Sarah Clark bettered their qualifying time by 0.42 seconds, but their mark of 1:45.43 was third as Hayden (1:44.70) and Emporia (1:45.30) finished ahead.
Independent's 400 freestyle relay, however, wrapped up the Panthers' second-place finish in style. Kilgore, Brittain, Kelsey Eklund and Allie Griffin won in 3:40.10 to cut more than four seconds off their qualifying time and beat Aquinas by more than two seconds.
Independent also got a pair of second places from Eklund, who was runnerup to Aquinas' Monica Dudley in the 200 and 500 freestyles. Eklund had the lead on Dudley in the 200 with 25 yards to go, but Dudley tracked her down and edged her by a half second in 1:55.94 to Eklund's 1:56.48. Griffin added a sixth in the 500 freestyle and seventh in the 200 freestyle, Kate Wickham had a seventh in the 50 free and the 200 medley relay was runner-up to Aquinas.
Trinity Academy's Emily Knocke had a pair of top-four finishes, taking third in the 100 backstroke and fourth in the 200 individual medley. Kapaun's Clark was third in the 50 freestyle and fifth in the 100 free, while McGreevy took eighth in the 100 butterfly, Meyer was eighth in the 100 breaststroke and the Crusaders were fifth in the 200 medley relay.
Collegiate's Anna Horner added a sixth in the 100 backstroke and Maize South's Caysi Sykes was fourth in the 200 freestyle and fourth in the 100 butterfly.