In advance of this weekend’s Sunflower League and Eastern Kansas League boys swimming and diving meets, here are some updates and noteworthy storylines heading into the action.
By KATHLEEN GIER
The Kansas City Star
Last season, the Shawnee Mission South swim and dive team dominated the Kansas Class 5-1A state meet to placed first as a team, outscoring second-place Topeka Hayden by 47 points.
Since then, the Raiders have been working in Class 6A with higher qualifying times and unfamiliar teams. Still, head coach Bruce Bove is confident that his team can still succeed at the state meet in two weeks.
“They have stepped up pretty well,” Bove said. “They’ve been swimming well and working hard all season.”
Jackson Conrad and Ali Arab, who finished first and second in the one-meter diving event at state last season, qualified in the Raiders’ first meet this season. The pair has combined for four top finishes this season. The 200 free relay team of Nicholas Caruso, Carter Stokes, Joe Stokes and Sam Tankel also qualified.
The Bishop Miege boys swim and dive team has been waiting all year for a little post-season redemption. The Stags finished fourth in both the Eastern Kansas League and state meets last season and returned all but one swimmer.
They are ready to make some moves.
“I’ve been coaching here for 19 years and this is the strongest team I’ve had in terms of overall ability, but more importantly their work ethic and their team camaraderie,” Miege coach Dennis Mueller said.
The Stags have qualified 14 swimmers and divers for the state meet, and have their 200 medley relay, 200 free relay and 400 free relay teams qualified for state entering the Eastern Kansas Leagtue meet.
After losing star senior Chris Hearl, who is now swimming at Texas Christian University, Blue Valley coach Adam Bien wasn’t sure what to expect from this year’s squad.
“I think we’re about where we need to be,” Bien said. “We’ve slowly been dropping times and I think, as a whole, we are a much deeper team than we were last year.”
The Tigers, who tied for eighth at the state last meet last season, have already qualified 10 swimmers and divers entering this weekend’s Eastern Kansas League meet.
Going into this week’s Eastern Kansas League meet, Blue Valley North boys swim and dive coach Derek Berg is pretty happy with his team’s chances.
The Mustangs are undefeated so far and have qualified 16 swimmers and divers to the state meet this season. The 200 freestyle relay team also broke a school record with a mark last week of 1 minute, 26.81 seconds last week. The old record was 1:27.72.
“We want to finish strong at EKL and I feel like we have a lot of depth, so I feel pretty good about our chances of winning it again,” Berg said. “When we get to state, we’ve got to take it one swim at a time. But as long as they swim their best, I’m happy as a coach.”