Shawnee Mission East boys swimming coach Wiley Wright doesn’t even have to mention the streak to motivate his Lancers.
His swimmers and divers already feel a responsibility to their predecessors in the program and the team’s 12 consecutive Sunflower League meet titles.
“They know what has transpired the last 12 years and they want to keep it going,” Wright said. “They want to maintain the course and improve and get better.”
SM East’s title defense began with diving prelims on Thursday night and conclude with competition on Friday and the finals at 1 p.m. on Saturday at California Trail Middle School.
Wright said hs SM East squad expects stiff competition from Lawrence Free State and Olathe East, which placed second and third, respectively, a year ago.
Wright has a youthful squad with just two seniors, but the Lancers’ underclassmen have plenty of experience. Sophomore Aidan Holbrook is a leader and the defending state champion in the 500-yard freestyle. He also mentioned junior Hayden Linscott, who placed fifth in the 100-yard freestyle last year at state.
SM East is the defending team state champion.
Blue Valley North, meanwhile, looks like the favorite in this week’s Eastern Kansas League boys swimming meet.
While Shawnee Mission East is driven by its legacy, the Mustangs are motivated this year by the fact that they fell just three points short of the title last year.
“The boys have been very focused all season, knowing how close we came last year,” said Blue Valley North coach Derek Berg, whose Mustangs finished three points behind SM East at last year’s state meet. “They want another chance at it and we are doing all we can to do that.”
Blue Valley North returns several experienced swimmers — Will Vance, Sam Disette and Ryan McMonigle among them.
BV North’s EKL title defense will culminate with the finals at 11 a.m. on Saturday at Blue Valley West High School.
“We feel pretty good,” Berg said. “Our depth at the league level is very strong and we feel confident that we will swim well. The boys are focused and ready to race.”
Blue Valley North has qualified five divers for the state meet, despite only being able to take four. The Mustangs can expect pressure at the league and state meets from Blue Valley Northwest, which placed second in the Eastern Kansas League and fourth at the state meet last year.