TOPEKA — In 19 years of coaching high school swimming, Bishop Miege’s Dennis Mueller had never led one of his teams to a state championship.
By KATHLEEN GIER
The Kansas City Star
So when his Stags took the Kansas Class 5-1A boys swimming and diving crown on Saturday in Topeka, he celebrated in the only appropriate way, by jumping off the podium into the pool fully clothed. It was the school’s first state swimming and diving title.
“I didn’t have a choice,” said Mueller, who was chosen the Class 5-1A coach of the year. “If I didn’t jump, they were going to throw me.”
Senior Jack Wirtz, who was first team all-state, led the Stags in three events. He took first in the 50 freestyle with a time of 21.86 seconds and the 100-yard freestyle in 48.18 seconds. He also contributed to the wining 200-yard freestyle relay, which finished in 1:29.81.
“It’s four years of hard work summed up into one day, and I couldn’t ask for much more,” Wirtz said.
Blue Valley Southwest followed with a third-place finish, and St. James Academy finished seventh in the 5-1A competition.
Just a few hours after Miege enjoyed its dive, Blue Valley North won the Class 6A state title to complete a sweep for the Eastern Kansas League.
“We knew it was going to be tough,” Blue Valley North coach Derek Berg said. “The other teams didn’t back down, but we took it up one more notch and swam great.”
The victory capped an undefeated season for the Mustangs, who won their second team title in the last four seasons and ninth overall.
The Mustangs were led by senior Brian North, who edged Shawnee Mission East senior Zack Holbrook in the 50-yard freestyle. North also contributed in the 200-yard freestyle relay, where the team placed second.
“I’ve been working eight years for this day,” North said. “We worked really hard, and Shawnee Mission East had some good swims, but we came out on top.”
SM East, which won the Sunflower League title this season, finished second after winning the relay and an individual title by Holbrook in the 100-yard fly. The Lancers held a narrow 185-180.5 lead over the Mustangs after seven events, but Blue Valley North turned in two second-place finishes in the next two races and took the lead. The Mustangs finished with 312.5 points, and the Lancers had 301.
Lawrence Free State finished fifth in 6A but took home three individual titles. Freshman Jordan Portela won the 200-yard free and 100-yard fly while senior Canaan Campbell added another title in the 500 yard freestyle.
Blue Valley West junior Daniel Fecteau added to the EKL’s success with an individual title in the diving portion of the meet. It was the second consecutive title for Fecteau, who outscored Olathe East senior Zach Neuman 514.40-420.10 in the finals.