When Blue Springs South’s girls swimming and diving team won the Suburban Big Six title last season, it ended a 12-year stranglehold by rival Blue Springs.
Keeping its own grasp on the conference crown – the championships are scheduled for Friday (4 p.m. preliminaries) and Saturday (1 p.m. finals) at the Henley Aquatic Center – has been high on the minds of his team, South coach Errich Oberlander said. When the Jaguars last won a conference title in 2000, they were not yet in the Suburban Conference’s Gold conference, the largest-school division.
“Absolutely, it’s been huge topic of conversation all season long,” Oberlander said. “Before last year we hadn’t won the big conference, and repeating it would be awesome.”
“I talked to my freshman class last year, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to be the class that knows nothing but winning it?’ But to get four (in a row), you have to get two.”
South’s title last season came by a 472-450 margin over Blue Springs, with Lee’s Summit North taking third (356). Oberlander said he believes the Jaguars have enough on hand to repeat.
“I think our top end isn’t quite as strong as last year,” he said. “But I think our depth is just as good, and really that’s where we won the meet last year.
“I think our sprint freestyle events will be very strong – really all our freestyle events should be strong. When it comes to relays, they’re double points, so there’s a big emphasis. We’re sitting in good position to be first or second in all of them, so that’s huge.”
Seniors Bailey Barnett and Maddie Scott, junior Kayla Canon, a state placer in the 100-yard backstroke last season, and sophomore Anna Munoz are among the Jaguars’ leaders.
Blue Springs senior Corinne Rinne was a state champion in the breaststroke last season, and she is joined by classmate Leigh Ana Dietiker and juniors Lindsey Meyers and Ashley Sturman as some of the Wildcats’ top swimmers. Sturman placed in the 200 and 500 freestyles at state last season.
One of the meet’s most competitive events could be the 1-meter diving, where South junior Allie Steinhauser and Blue Springs senior Mariah Hagerty placed 9-10 at state last year.
Blue Springs coach Bill Shalley knows regaining the title will be an uphill battle for a team lacking the depth of past seasons. But the Kansas City Classic two weeks ago, where the Wildcats were a disqualified relay away from taking third place, was a positive sign in his team’s progression, he said.
“The Classic was a bit of a peak of what we’re capable of,” he said. “I’d like to see conference be a similar step forward. What we’re looking for is pushing our relays – have aggressive starts.
“The lack of depth just lets you focus on the races you have. Sometimes you just need to have the right seven or eight. They’re really improving a lot. I’m just hoping we can take the next step. We’ll find out a lot of ourselves Friday.”
Lee’s Summit North’s top swimmers include sophomore Haley Hynes, a two-time returning state champion in the 200 individual medley and backstroke, Nicole Voss and Kristin Herrick.