It took the Blue Springs South girls swim team more than a decade to climb to the top spot in the Suburban Gold Conference. The Jaguars aren’t leaving there anytime soon.
By SAM McDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
After ending a 13-year dry spell last season, Blue Springs South captured its second straight Suburban Gold Conference championship Saturday, narrowly besting Lee’s Summit North at the Henley Aquatic Center in Independence. The Jaguars accumulated 446 team points. Lee’s Summit North totaled 419.
“I think we looked at it totally different after winning last year — this time we came in with really high expectations to win,” said Blue Springs South senior Bailey Barnett, who placed second in the 200-yard freestyle and 100 freestyle. “We’re very lucky because we have a lot of depth. We’re lucky we don’t have any weak events. That’s why we’re champions.”
Indeed, in a unique formula, Blue Springs South won the conference team championship despite not winning a single individual race Saturday. The Jaguars didn’t win any of the three relay events either.
Park Hill South took an entirely different approach en route to winning its 13th consecutive Suburban Red Conference championship. The Panthers won seven of the 11 races, including all three relay events.
They cruised to victory with 562 points. Lee’s Summit West finished second with 410, followed by Park Hill with 400.
Park Hill South sophomore Tori Beeler swam to first-place finishes in the 200 individual medley and the 100 backstroke. Anna Riekhof and Allison Garrett added victories in the 100 breaststroke and 100 freestyle, respectively.
That offers the Panthers plenty of momentum heading into the Missouri state meet, which will take place Feb. 21-22 in St. Peters, Mo. They took eighth at the meet last season.
“I think we can get into the top three,” Beeler said. “That’s what we’re hoping for. We always go into any meet saying we can do the best we can, and that’s worked out for us so far.”
The state meet can’t come soon enough for Lee’s Summit North sophomore Haley Hynes, who will be looking to repeat as the state champion in the 200 individual medley and the 100 backstroke.
Hynes, whose goal is to break the state record in the 100 backstroke, won the same two events at the conference championships Saturday.
“I really have to try a lot harder this year because it’s a lot of pressure now,” Hynes said. “I have so much expectation to fulfill. Winning state as a freshman in two events is pretty big. Now I feel like I have the responsibility to win it again. I think it would almost feel weird if I didn’t.”
Hynes was one of three swimmers to win two events in the Suburban Gold Conference. Blue Springs swimmer Ashley Sturman won the 100 butterfly and the 500 freestyle. Raymore-Peculiar’s Maddi Brusick won both sprint events, the 50 freestyle and the 100 freestyle.
The Suburban Red Conference featured a pair of two-event winners — Beeler and Park Hill swimmer Madison Heydinger, who won the 200 freestyle and the 500 freestyle races.