TOPEKA — Blue Valley West senior Kyle Fecteau failed to medal Friday in the 1-meter springboard during the Kansas 6A state boys swimming and diving championships at Capitol Federal Natatorium, but in some ways he still felt like a champion.
By TOD PALMER
The Kansas City Star
Fecteau sat in 14th place after struggling at times during the preliminary and semifinals rounds a day earlier. He managed to move up four spots after the three-dive final round on Friday.
Still, watching his younger brother, Jaguars sophomore Daniel Fecteau, climb to the top of the podium after rallying for first place had Kyle on top of the world too.
“If I couldn’t win it, seeing my brother do it was the next best thing,” Kyle Fecteau said. “He’s been going back and forth with Christopher Cusick from (Blue Valley) North all year. We knew it would be really close, but it was awesome to see Daniel come out on top.”
Cusick led by 18 points entering the final, but Daniel Fecteau strung together three impeccable dives and surged to the gold medal with 457.30 points.
Cusick, a senior who was the runner-up to four-time champion Clark Thomas of Olathe Northwest last season, settled for second again with 449.35 points.
“Placing my hardest dives in the last three gave me a little advantage, because I had a slightly higher degree of difficulty,” Daniel Fecteau said. “Other than that, I just executed well.”
Kyle Fecteau had a feeling early in the final that his younger brother might pull off the comeback.
“The first dive set the tone when he nailed an inward one-and-a-half pike,” Kyle said. “That’s one of his really good dives, but it’s not an easy dive. He was nervous about it, but that was his best dive of the year.”
And it set a title-winning tone.
Raiders rock Class 5-1A diving
Shawnee Mission South claimed the top two spots in the Class 5-1A diving final.
Raiders sophomore Jackson Conrad pulled away for first place with 353.20 points, while fellow sophomore Ali Arab snagged the silver (336.00).
No other diver stayed within 60 points of the SM South duo.
“It was great to stand next to each other on that podium,” Arab said. “We’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time.”
Conrad, who has trained with Arab for five years now, entered state as the favorite and was happy to finish with the gold.
“Coming into state, I thought Ali was really my only competition, but obviously it feels great to win,” Conrad said.
Reigning 6A champ SM East chasing Wichita East
Wichita East set itself up well for a Class 6A team championship, qualifying nine swimmers to Saturday’s A finals and 12 more to the B finals.
Reigning champion Shawnee Mission East, which has won state six times in the last eight years, isn’t out of contention — and certainly won’t concede.
The Lancers also had nine A finalists and only nine more in the B final, giving Wichita East room for error.
“Wichita East set themselves up to be the team to beat, I think,” said Blue Valley North coach Derek Berg, whose squad put seven in the A final and nine in the B final. “It’s their meet to win or lose.”
Wichita East, SM East and BV North all qualified to the A finals in the three relays (200 medley and the 200 and 400 freestyles).
“We had some good and bad swims,” SM East coach Wiley Wright said on Friday. “Tomorrow’s a new day, and we’ll just have to see how it unfolds. We’ve basically got to move up. It’s about competing and out-finishing the kid next to you.”
Meanwhile, in the Class 5-1A swimming prelims, SM South got a big bounce from the diving finals but also qualified six swimmers in the A finals and three in the B finals.
“I think we’re in good shape,” Raiders coach Bruce Bove said. “Most everyone on our team got best times today, so we had a good day.”
To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/todpalmer.