ST. PETERS, Mo. – As they finished adding up the numbers, the hugs and high-fives began in earnest near the medal stand.
The Blue Springs South boys swimming and diving team was downright giddy after learning it had just grabbed the coveted second-place finish at the Missouri State High School Boys Swimming and Diving Championships at the St. Peters Rec-Plex. Second place … coveted? When it became clear powerhouse Rockhurst would cruise to its 10th-straight state championship, the race was on to line up behind the Hawklets and their 220 points.
And it was the Jaguars with 163 points who would wind up as the runner-up, matching the 1999 team for the highest boys finish in school history.
“We were fifth down here last year, and my goal when we left here a year ago was to be top four and bring home a trophy,” South coach Errich Oberlander said. “I really didn't believe we'd be second, but our guys just did amazing this weekend.”
Lee's Summit North, which recently ended Blue Springs' reign of 15 straight Suburban Big Six Conference titles, compiled 161 points at state to finish right behind conference rival South in third place.
“Incredible. Third place is better than we've ever done in the history of Lee's Summit North,” Broncos coach Danielle Russell said. “We came in knowing they had a lot of pressure on them. We didn't do as well as we wanted to yesterday, but today we rocked it.”
North senior Ethan Bresette capped off a stellar high school career by capturing the state title in the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 1 minute, 51.17 seconds, holding off Vianney's Nick Alexander, who finished in 1:51.52.
“I tried to hold on. I was waiting for him to die out, but he kept me pushing and I thank him for that,” said Bresette, a Missouri State recruit. “I anticipated going into the event as one of the top competitors, but I still kept working hard and hard and hard. So, I somewhat feel like I deserve it.”
South's best individual finish came from senior Connor Gregston, who swam a 46.61 in the 100 freestyle to finish second, just .15 of a second behind Rockwood Summit's Sam Stapleton. Gregston also finished third in the 50 freestyle in 21.41.
South's Jack Pluenneke picked up a pair of individual medals with a fifth-place finish in the 200 IM (1:55.27) and a sixth-place showing in the 500 free (4:45.96), while teammate Connor Dillon improved from eighth on Friday to fifth on Saturday in the 50 free with a time of 21.76. And the Jaguars' 200 and 400-free relay teams of Pluenneke, Dillon, Gregston and Dominic Baber also improved, moving from fifth to third in both events.
The Jaguars got their Saturday off on the right note by placing 25 percent of the eight divers on the medal stand, as senior James Poole scored 346.25 points to finish sixth, while fellow senior teammate Eric Horn finished right behind him in seventh with 340.05. Horn was 11th at state last year, while Poole finished 16th.
“It all came down to the ninth round, where I had a little bit of a yucky dive on my reverse, one-and-a-half tuck. But you've got to really get up and shake it off and still bring yourself back to where you can try and get a medal,” Poole said. “It's really exciting, but it's just a little sad knowing it's your last year and you had that little rough spot. But you've got to be happy with what you've got, and I'm really happy that I increased 10 spots from last year.”
Bresette, who finished second to Francis Howell's Ryan Baker in the 500 freestyle despite having the top seed after Friday's preliminaries, also anchored North's title-winning 400-free relay team. He teamed with Michael Hynes, Thomas Reilly and James White to finish in a school-record time of 3:09.91, more than a second and a half faster than their time Friday.
North also finished second in the 200 freestyle relay with a time of 1:26.71. Hynes, White and Bresette were on that team, along with Zach Littell.
Hynes also picked up a pair of individual medals with a fifth-place finish in the 200 freestyle (1:43.58) and a sixth-place showing in the 100 freestyle (47.09).
The Broncos had five swimmers in consolation races Saturday, as White finished 11th in the 50 free and 12th in the 100 free, Josh Littell (12th) and Zach Littell (13th) went back-to-back in the 100 butterfly and Thomas Faulkenberry was 16th in the 100 backstroke.
Blue Springs had just one finalist Saturday, as Jacob Raines finished eighth in the 100 breaststroke in 1:00.47. The Wildcats, with 11 points, finished tied for 34th as a team.