Joco Sports

Blue Valley North, SM East win boys swimming league titles

Bennett Hense of Shawnee Mission East competed in the 500-yard freestyle on Saturday at the Sunflower League boys swimming and diving meet at California Trail Middle School in Olathe.
Bennett Hense of Shawnee Mission East competed in the 500-yard freestyle on Saturday at the Sunflower League boys swimming and diving meet at California Trail Middle School in Olathe. Special to The Star

Blue Valley Northwest High School’s Colten Becker was down to his last chance to win an individual race as a senior on Saturday at the Eastern Kansas League boys swimming and diving meet at Blue Valley West.

And it was the first individual race of the meet, the 200-yard freestyle. Becker, a senior, had false started in the 100-yard freestyle preliminaries on Friday evening and entered the 200 freestyle as the event’s No. 3 seed.

“I wanted to race the guys next to me and see what I could do,” Becker said. “I wanted to go out fast.”

He had a time of 1 minute, 48.24 seconds in the prelims, then notched a winning time of 1:45.33 in the finals.

In the team standings, Blue Valley North won the meet for the seventh year in a row.

The Mustangs now take aim on the Kansas Class 6A state meet, where they are looking to avenge a three-point loss last year to Shawnee Mission East. The state meet is scheduled for Feb. 18-20 in Topeka.

The Mustangs didn’t qualify for the championship heat in the last event of Saturday’s EKL meet — the 400-yard freestyle relay. The rule in swimming is that — no matter how fast you swim in the consolation heat — you can’t finish any higher than ninth place. The championship heat features the top eight teams after the prelims.

“That cost us a chance to have our fate in our own hands,” Blue Valley North coach Derek Berg said.

Blue Valley Northwest junior John Tran won the one-meter diving competition, with an 11-dive score of 401.45 points. He edged BV North’s Liam North by six points.

Sunflower League: Lancers win title

Shawnee Mission East swimmers and coaches pumped their fists into the air and parents started a celebration in the bleachers as soon as Hayden Linscott tapped the edge of the pool.

Linscott swam the final leg of the Lancers’ winning 400-yard freestyle relay, which helped secure the program’s 13th consecutive Sunflower League title on Saturday at California Trail Middle School. He finished his relay leg in a team-best 46.63 seconds for a final team time of 3 minutes, 13.53 seconds.

“I left it all in the pool, and I don’t have anything left,” Linscott said. “It’s out of this world. I am so happy for all of my teammates and so proud of myself. I couldn’t be any happier.”

With the victory, Shawnee Mission East swept the relays for a 117-point margin ahead of Lawrence Free State. SM East finished with 375 total points.

The two squads split 11 of the 12 Sunflower League meet event titles, with SM East winning five and Lawrence Free State winning six.

“Free State is so good,” SM East coach Wiley Wright said. “To beat them means a lot to us. We’ll see them at state again.”

Olathe Northwest’s Brant Pitcairn was the only winner not from SM East or Lawrence Free State, taking the one-meter diving title with 486.50 points. Shawnee Mission West diver Ryan O’Neil placed second with 435.40 points.

“I’ve been having a good season and just knew that I just needed to execute these last couple days,” Pitcairn said. “I am a little under the weather, but I managed to pull it out.”

Kathleen Gier, kgier@kcstar.com

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