Winning the Suburban Big Six swimming and diving championship had been a season-long goal for the Lee’s Summit North boys team.
However, the manner in which they accomplished that feat Saturday exceeded the expectations of Bronco coach Danielle Russell.
Swimming in the friendly confines of the Lee’s Summit Aquatic Center, the Broncos won eight of 15 events, including all three relays, and placed 1-2 in two events on their way to compiling 523 points, pulling away from Blue Springs South (446) for the team title.
Liberty (381) held off Blue Springs (335.5), which had won the previous 15 team titles, for third, followed by Raymore-Peculiar (166) and Lee’s Summit (127).
“They placed up in every event,” Russell said. “They were incredibly focused. I’ve never been around a group of guys who wanted this that bad. Their passion for the sport is unmatched.”
As usual, Ethan Bresette was the ringleader, winning the 200-yard individual medley (1 minute, 53.37 seconds) and 500 freestyle (4:40.93) in runaway fashion and anchoring the 200 free relay (1:26.8) and 400 free relay (3:11.92) to wins in school-record times. The 200 relay beat South by nearly two seconds, while the margin in the 400 relay was nearly 5.5 seconds.
Michael Hynes, Zach Littell and James White swam the first legs in the 200 relay, while Hynes, Thomas Reilly and White gave Bresette a healthy lead in the 400 relay. Thomas Faulkenberry, Brady Benefiel, Littell and Reilly won the medley relay in 1:40.02, 3.5 seconds better than Blue Springs.
“We were just wanting to go fast,” Bresette said of the 400 relay. “After we got the 200 relay record we thought we might get the 400 – just not by six seconds. That’s a lot.
“We’ve been trying for that for four years, and senior year it finally happened,” Bresette added of the league title. “We’ve always been short of people. It’s hard for guys to get motivated to come out and swim."
But his efforts during the summer league circuit to convince more Bronco students to participate apparently paid off.
“I was late to the first meeting,” he said. “When I got there I saw the lobby was just filled with people.”
White, who added a second in the 50 free (school-record 21.84, down from 22.0) and a third in the 100 free (47.88), said the larger roster led to improved depth that was exemplified Saturday.
“The first day I came in, we had twice the team,” he said. “We had a couple freshmen that gave us depth, and every little bit helps. The people that came back, they came back stronger than ever.”
Also winning for the Broncos were Hynes in the 200 free (1:44.99), Zach Littell in the 100 butterfly (52.56) and Faulkenberry in the 100 backstroke (55.65). Other seconds came from Josh Littell in the 100 fly (53.22), Reilly in the 100 back (56.74) and Hynes in the 100 breaststroke (1:01.17), while Josh Littell added a third in the 200 IM (1:59.89). Brennen Dooley and Jordan Stark finished 4-5 in diving.
Blue Springs South got a 1-2-3 finish in Saturday morning's 1-meter diving. James Poole tallied a total score of 416.25, followed by Eric Horn (363.35) and Noah Hardin (312.15). The Jaguars’ other win came in the 100 free, where Connor Gregston (47.59) led a 1-4-6 finish with teammates Connor Dillon and Dominic Baber. The same three went 3-4-6 in the 50 free.
South coach Errich Oberlander said he knew his team would have a tough time keeping up with Lee’s Summit North.
“They’re one of the fastest teams in the state,” he said. “They were definitely were the favorites coming in. We kept it close for a while, but they put up some times that will rival anyone in the state.”
“I’m happy with the way we swam, and our divers really stepped up.”
Jack Pluenneke was runner-up to Bresette in the 200 IM (1:58.27) and 500 free (4:49.48), while the freestyle relay quartet of Baber, Pluenneke, Dillon and Gregston had second-place times of 1:28.54 in the 200 and 3:17.4 in the 400.
Thirds for the Jaguars came from the 200 medley relay (1:47.04) and Gregston in the 50 free (21.86), while fourths came from Dillon in the 50 free (21.88) and 100 free (48.92), Chris Branch in the 500 free (5:02.47), Ben Morgan in the 100 back (59.48) and Garrett Edwards in the 100 breast (1:04.44).
“One fun event for us was when we placed all four in top eight of 500,” Oberlander said. “Connor Gregston winning the 100 free, it’s always nice to get a conference title, and the 50 free was probably our second-strongest event – we almost had three with state qualifying times.”
While fourth place is uncharted water for Blue Springs coach Bill Shalley, he was pleased his team, which got thinner in ranks during the season and thus didn’t possess the depth it had in seasons past, made up more than 20 points from Friday’s preliminary results.
“We just couldn’t reel in Liberty for third,” Shalley said. “I really wanted to do that to help the all-sports standings. We swam great; we did a great job. You’ve got to have guys that are committed.”
“The 200 free squad did a really nice job (Friday) night, and Jacob Raines’ win was fun to see.”
Raines’ win came in the 100 breast (1:00.53). Will Riddle, Raines, Reagan Jett and Quinn Aylward teamed for second in the 200 medley relay (1:43.58), and Michael Melichar came in second in the 200 free (1:48.33). Thirds came from Benjamin Duvall in the 200 free (1:50.99) and 500 free (5:00.91), Aylward in the 100 fly (55.41) and Drew Coleman in the 100 back (59.23). Fourths went to Raines in the 200 IM (2:03.2), Jett in the 100 fly (55.87), the 200 free relay (1:32.26) and the 400 free relay (3:23.9).
SUBURBAN MIDDLE SIX: Park Hill overcame a disqualification in the 200 free relay (late to the blocks) and edged crosstown rival Park Hill South 495-482 for the team title. Lee’s Summit West (381), St. Joseph Central (260) and Truman (203) completed the five-team field.
Truman’s best finishes were fourths from Vincent Glorioso in the 50 free (23.38) and Derrick Linhardt in the 100 fly (58.69). Jack Knipp placed fifth in the 100 back (59.16) and Glorioso seventh in the 100 free (53.07).