Not long after the celebration of a Surburban Gold Conference girls’ swimming championship had concluded, Blue Springs South swimmers promised there would be more to come.
By SAM McDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
The Jaguars won their first conference title in 13 years last Saturday at the Lee’s Summit Aquatic Center, besting rival Blue Springs for the first time since 2000.
And now the Jaguars have their sights set on loftier goals — notably the Missouri swimming and diving state championships Feb. 15-16 in St. Peters, Mo..
“This was a huge confidence booster,” senior Morgan Connors said of the conference crown. “We’ve already accomplished more than we thought we would. I can’t wait to see what we do at state.”
Blue Springs South expects to be in the mix for some individual honors in 10 days. And with good reason.
Connors won the 200-yard freestyle; Emily Zweerink touched the wall first in the 50 freestyle and Kayla Canon finished second in the 100 backstroke.
Such impact performances have become indicative of the Jaguars’ ability to show up for big meets, coach Errich Oberlander said, a trend that he would like to see continue.
“I really thought it was a complete tossup,” Oberlander said of his team’s chances against Blue Springs. “We pulled it out because our girls swim their best when it counts. It’s amazing.”
Of course, the state meet that counts the most is yet to come — a message that Blue Springs coach Bill Shalley says he will remind his team.
Despite going home without the first-place conference trophy for the first time in 13 seasons, the Wildcats were left will some silver linings over the weekend.
They topped the field in the 200 freestyle relay, and Corinne Rinne won the 100 backstroke in perhaps the meet’s most impressive performances. She finished in 1 minute, 7.49 seconds, more than five seconds better than Canon in second.
Additionally, Ashley Sturman won the 500 freestyle.
“We’ll bounce back,” Shalley said. “This is a good lesson for the girls. We’ll learn from it.”
Lee’s Summit North’s Haley Hynes made her case as a contender at the state meet, winning the 100 backstroke and the 200 individual medley.
Belton hires football coach
After winning a total of four football games in the last three seasons, Belton hired Todd Vaughn last Friday as its new head football coach. He replaces Mark Thomas.
While some may see doubt in the likelihood of turning around the Pirates’ prospects, Vaughn says he sees opportunity.
“I think there’s a lot of potential there,” he said. “I was really impressed with some of the things they already have in place, and the community stepped up and showed me there’s a willingness to do what it takes to get better.”
Vaughn, who uses a spread offense, spent the last seven years as the head coach at Farmington High School, located in St. Francois County about 60 miles south of St. Louis. The football team reached the Missouri Class 4 state semifinals twice in Vaughn’s seven seasons.
Previously, he was at Holt High School in Wentzville, a school that had never experienced a football playoff game before his arrival. The team reached the Class 4 semifinals in his first season.
“It was very similar to what I’m taking over at Belton in those aspects,” Vaughn said. “They had struggled, and the kids were not used to being part of a program that promoted a positive atmosphere. I went in there and changed the mindset of the kids and how we operated, and fortunately it worked. I think it can work at Belton.”