Coming into the Suburban Blue Conference girls swim meet, Kearney coach Nate Long told his team they were only expected to win by 12 points, so they would really have to bear down if they wanted to defend their league title.
The prediction turned out to be a little off. By 95 points.
Kearney left the other five teams in its wake Saturday at the Gladstone Community Center, winning all but one race in racking up 570 team points to runner-up Platte County’s 463. Long’s figuring may have been off, but he said it still helped spur the Bulldogs on to a second straight title.
“I told the girls that and they’ve owned up to the challenge,” Long said. “They realized how important every race and every yard is.”
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Kearney swept all three relays and had three double-winners in Kyla Andersen, Reagan Bonderer and Morgan Bonderer. Andersen won the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle, Reagan Bonderer took the 200 individual medley and 500 freestyle while Morgan Bonderer won the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke. Chloe Lyles took the 200 freestyle for the Bulldogs.
The only race Kearney didn’t win was the 100 breaststroke, where Platte County’s Rachel Valentine led a one-two-three finish by the Pirates.
“We had a couple races coming in where I knew we’d be pressed,” Long said. “The taper hit pretty well so we’re performing as I expected us to perform.”
Morgan Bonderer’s performance was much better than she or Long expected, considering she suffered a stress fracture in her back before the season and has only been back in the water for a month and a half. Bonderer’s doctor, in fact, told the junior at one point she would have to sit out the season.
“I didn’t expect to be swimming conference,” Bonderer said. “I’m definitely not in the shape I’d like to be in, but I’m very blessed that I can come out here and perform like I am.”
Kearney doesn’t anticipate almost running the table at every meet. But Long said the Bulldogs always anticipate being a top-caliber team. One good enough to swamp their conference meet.
“Over the past two years we’ve kind of established a mentality of it’s expected,” Long said. “We’re going to go out and give the best of our ability because that’s how we train.”