Bragging rights among the Hernandez-Nietling twin brothers can be hard to come by.
After Saturday’s Class 5-1A state swimming championships, the debate still remains.
“He’s got half, and I got half,” Max Hernandez-Nietling said after both took a long pause before answering the question.
“We both swim different events,” added Lex
You certainly can’t use the hardware the Bishop Miege juniors collected Saturday at Capitol Federal Natatorium as a deciding factor. Not after each captured a pair of state individual state titles, leading the Stags to a second-place team finish. Lex took gold in the 100-yard freestyle and 100 breaststroke, while Max picked up titles in the 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly.
For both, winning their first state swimming golds in the same year was a thrill they’d dreamed of achieving.
“It means everything,” Max said. “He’s been pushing me. I’ve been pushing him. I couldn’t have done any of this without him. It’s just amazing.”
“It’s amazing just to have someone who can share the same accomplishment,” Lex said.
Max had arguably the biggest challenge for the double-gold dream entering the 50 freestyle as the No. 2 qualifier. In order to get that title, he was going to have to dethrone the defending champion in the event, St. James Academy’s Nick Callahan.
The two were virtually dead even at the turn before Max turned it on over the last 25 yards and beat Callahan to the wall in 21.16, winning by 34-hundredths of a second.
Max had to turn right around after the break and swim the next pool event, the 100 butterfly where he was the top qualifier. He skipped standing atop the medal podium for his 50-free gold to remain focused, and it paid off as he won in 50.30 seconds.
Lex followed Max’s gold in the butterfly by handily winning the 100 freestyle in 45.84 seconds.
That left the 100 breaststroke, where Lex also had to dethrone a returning state champion in Bonner Springs’ Ryan Downing. Downing set the state meet record in the event a year ago at 56.28, and though he pushed Lex from start to finish, Lex kept him at bay, winning in 57.09, 27-hundredths ahead of Downing.
Topeka Seaman ran away with the team title with 347 points. St. James Academy finished third in the 5-1A team standings with 189 points, eight behind Miege.
Lancers win again in Class 6A
Winning Kanss Class 6A state championships is pretty much commonplace for Shawnee Mission East.
Saturday’s team title was the Lancers’ fourth straight. And yet, there SM East senior Aidan Holbrook was, showing enough emotion one would have to wonder if the Lancers had just done the improbable.
Well, maybe in his mind, it was just a little bit.
“It just makes us feel like we’re part of the dynasty,” Holbrook said.
Maybe Holbrooks is on to something there. While past SM East title teams have boasted sure-fire individual state champions to go along with its usual depth, this year’s squad lacked that certain star power. The only events the Lancers won Saturday were the 200- and 400-yard freestyle relays.
But SM East still got it done, scoring 316.50 points to edge rival Blue Valley North for the crown with the Mustangs scoring 297.50.
“We might be a bit underestimated,” Holbrook said.
Holbrook teamed with Elias Lowland, PJ Spencer and Evan Root to win the 200 freestyle relay in 1:26.08, just 35-hundredths of a second ahead of BV North. Holbrook, Lowland, Root and Sam Bruck then capped the meet with the win in the 400 free relay in 3:10.04, winning by more than 2 seconds.
Holbrook fell short of being the Lancers’ only individual champion, taking second in the 200 individual medley to Washburn Rural’s Tarrin Fisher, who won by more than a second in 1:53.01 to Holbrook’s 1:54.34. Holbrook also took third in the 500 freestyle, well behind Lawrence’s Stephen Johnson, who swept titles in the 200 and 500 freestyles.
Root added a third place in both the 200 freestyle and 100 freestyle and Tyler Cunningham was third in the 100 butterfly to headline the Lancers’ effort.
Blue Valley’s Ryan Richards brought home the gold in the 50 freestyle with a time of, topping Wichita West’s David Garcia in 21.26 seconds.
Olathe Northwest’s Bradley Davis took second in diving with 407.70 points, 4.95 points behind Wichita North’s Miguel Bernal.