Blue Springs South swimmers jumped on a temporary podium following the conclusion of the Suburban Gold Conference meet Saturday.
By SAM McDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
Once they reached the top of the white wooden platform, the girls refused to leave. In particular, the team’s seniors understood the rarity of the moment. So there they stood, enjoying it for an extra minute or two.
This group — which certainly endured its share of growing pains — reached a level of success the school hadn’t experienced since 2000.
The Jaguars won the first conference girls swimming and diving championship in 13 seasons Saturday, dethroning a Blue Springs dynasty that had lasted more than a decade.
“This is so great. So great,” Blue Springs South senior Morgan Connors said. “We didn’t really think we’d be here, but I know that we deserve it because we worked our butts off.”
Blue Springs South set the tone of the meet in the opening event, winning the 200-yard medley relay by more than a second to earn 40 team points. Connors followed that up by blitzing the field in the 200 freestyle, finishing in 1 minute, 56.04 seconds.
The Jaguars also obtained a key victory from Emily Zweerink, who won the 50 freestyle, edging out Liberty’s Dreya Curnow, who came back to win the 100 freestyle.
Some three hours later, with the day’s final event nearing, the Jaguars had locked up the conference crown. They finished with 472 team points, a larger-than-anticipated margin over Blue Springs’ 450.
“I knew we were going to be fast, but we were even faster than I thought,” fourth-year Jaguars coach Errich Oberlander said. “I think what makes it so awesome is that I didn’t expect it at the start of the year. But they did it, man.”
Winners of the past 12 Suburban Gold Conference titles, Blue Springs kept the meet in doubt with wins from Ashley Sturman in the 500 freestyle and Corinne Rinne in the 100 breaststroke, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the school’s impressive streak from ending.
The Wildcats were gracious in defeat, one-by-one congratulating members of the Blue Springs South swimming team as they accepted their first-place trophy.
“I think they really got it rolling early and made it hard for us to come back,” Blue Springs swim coach Bill Shalley said. “We expected to do a little better than that. They did their job, and we didn’t do ours. Give them credit.”
Haley Hynes paced Lee’s Summit North to a third-place finish, winning the 100 backstroke and 200 individual medley. She was the lone competitor to win two individual races in the Suburban Gold Conference.
Park Hill South claims championship
One dynasty ends. Another marches on.
Park Hill South may have switched conferences for the 2012-13 school year, but nothing has changed with its girls swimming program. The Panthers won a 13th consecutive league championship Saturday, besting the field in the Suburban Red Conference swim meet. They had won the previous 12 titles in the Suburban Blue Conference.
On Saturday, they dominated the field with 578.50 points. Their closest challenger, Park Hill, totaled 494.50 by winning six of the 11 swimming events.
But a Park Hill South team employing seven freshmen utilized its deeper roster. Tori Beeler won the 200 individual medley, Helen Yeater captured the 100 butterfly and Anna Riekhof out-swam the field in the 100 breaststroke. The Panthers also won the 200 medley relay.
“We swam about as good as we could have swam today,” Panthers coach Tim Busenhart said. “Almost everybody swam their personal best times. That shows you what can happen when you have a team with all the girls on the same page.”
For the Park Hill Trojans, Madison Heydinger (200 freestyle, 500 freestyle) and Lauren Shaw (100 freestyle, 100 backstroke) won multiple events.
To reach Sam McDowell, send email to email@example.com.