Dodge City took third out of five teams in the Western Athletic Conference swim meet in Garden City Thursday.

While the team’s scoring result may not seem like much, the Red Demons had plenty to celebrate.

Besides good efforts and some personal records for many of the girls, according to head coach Kaitlyn Paul, there were also some individual recognitions.

Senior Lea Weckerle was announced as the WAC Swimmer of the Year ahead of next week’s state swim meet, in which she’s qualified in multiple events.

Weckerle is a foreign-exchange student out of Germany. She’s classified as a senior, but is only 15 years old, Paul said.

“She’s been a joy to coach and to have on the team,” Paul said. “Of course she came in with some beautiful (swim) strokes, and really accomplished, and we’ve only been able to help her polish and get faster as the season’s gone on.”

Besides her physical ability in the water, other coaches have recognized her role as a good competitor as well.

“Other coaches compliment her all the time for her sportsmanship and her attitude and everything that she does when she’s swimming,” Paul said. “She’s beautiful to watch but she’s also such a great person, and so kind and so sweet to everybody.”

Weckerle finished out her regular season winning both the 200 Yard Individual Medley, and the 100 Yard Butterfly. She’ll compete in the state swim meet at the Topeka-Hummer Sports Complex in Topeka, Kansas next week. State starts May 17 and runs through the 19th.

The Red Demons qualified all three relay teams, and Weckerle was a part of them.

She also qualified in the individual medley, the butterfly, the backstroke and the breaststroke. She’ll only be allowed to swim four events though at state, so Paul said Weckerle will swim two of the relays and two of the individual events.

Paul took home her first ever coach of the year award as well.

“I’m so honored,” Paul said. “I was completely shocked to receive that honor. I thought that there were some other coaches, who have done some really great things with their athletes as well, that I thought would end up being voted for.”

For Paul, the recognition also confirmed the direction of her efforts.

“It shows me that I am on the right track, doing what I need to with my athletes, and that other coaches see it and recognize it, and that we’re doing what we need to to improve our and go the right direction,” Paul said.

Paul said her biggest strength has been appreciating the athlete for more than their athletic talent.

“During the season we’ve spent a lot of time with some of the girls who’ve had some other things going on in their lives,” Paul said. “Dealing with that stress, and dealing with grades and dealing with everything that goes into that girl or that person and just always being there to encourage them to push themselves beyond what they think they can do, and making sure that they know that I genuinely do care about them and I do care about how they perform and they are a person to me, they’re not just an event.”

Here were the results from each event in Thursday’s meet in Garden City.

200 Yard Medley Relay
- Second place: The team consisting of Abby Harding, Lea Weckerle, Hayden Sanchez and Payton Magouirk
- Eighth place: The team consisting of Mackenna Spencer, Taylor Starnes, Lillian Friess and Harlie Wainscott

200 Yard Freestyle
- Sixth place: Kameron Lowery
- Ninth place: Harlie Wainscott

200 Yard Individual Medley
- First place: Lea Weckerle
- 10th place: Lillian Friess

50 Yard Freestyle
- Fourth place: Payton Magouirk
- Ninth place: Abby Harding
- 14th place: Ella Friess
- As exhibition: Alexandra Sandoval
- As exhibition: Julissa Oprinel
- As exhibition: Amy Samaniego

100 Yard Butterfly
- First place: Lea Weckerle
- Ninth place: Mackenna Spencer

100 Yard Freestyle
- Second place: Payton Magouirk
- 13th place: Taylor Starnes
- 15th place: Alexandra Sandoval
- As exhibition: Ella Friess

500 Yard Freestyle
- Sixth place: Kameron Lowery
- Ninth place: Harlie Wainscott
- 12th place: Amy Samaniego

200 Yard Freestyle Relay
- Second place: The team consisting of Payton Magouirk, Abby Harding, Hayden Sanchez and Lea Weckerle
- Eighth place: The team consisting of Taylor Starnes, Alexandra Sandoval, Ella Friess and Kameron Lowery

100 Yard Backstroke
- Sixth place: Mackenna Spencer
- 11th place: Lillian Friess

100 Yard Breaststroke
- Sixth place: Hayden Sanchez
- 10th place: Taylor Starnes
- 13th place: Brigitte Costa

400 Yard Freestyle Relay
- Sixth place: The team consisting of Abby Harding, Mackenna Spencer, Harlie Wainscott and Kameron Lowery
- Eighth place: The team consisting of Alexandra Sandoval, Brigitte Costa, Ella Friess and Lillian Friess

To contact the writer, email sburch@dodgeglobe.com