The expectations might be tempered from last year, but that doesn’t mean Blue Springs South coach Errich Oberlander isn’t looking for some better results at this year's MSHSAA Girls Swimming and Diving State Championships, which begin Friday at the Rec-Plex in St. Peters.
Too often, the Jaguars were a bundle of nerves at state, and Oberlander has been trying to foster a more laid-back feeling in practices since the South repeated as Suburban Big Six champion two weeks ago.
“Last year we went in with such high expectations and we didn’t meet them because we were too nervous,” said Oberlander, whose team finished 16th last year at state.
“We want to go down more relaxed and have the same high expectations. Last year we had more high seeds. Anything we get into the finals Saturday is going to make it more exciting.”
Senior Bailey Barnett and junior Kayla Canon echoed the idea of simply trying to get as many top 16 finishes in the preliminaries as possible. The top eight swim in Saturday's championship races, while the next eight swim in the consolation races.
“We’re all really excited; we’re happy with the how the season’s gone,” said Barnett, who will swim in the 100 and 200-yard freestyle events. “We’re going to try to get as many as we can to the second day ... just go from there. Our second-day goal is to always move up.”
“We’ve been staying really focused; we’ve accomplished our goals for the most part,” added Canon, who placed 16th in the 100 backstroke last year at state and will add the 100 breaststroke this time.
Canon, freshman Kadie Clark, sophomore Anna Munoz and freshman Taylor Branson will swim the 200 medley relay for South. Branson, sophomore Sydney Dillon, senior Maddie Scott will precede Barnett in the 200 free relay, with Munoz, Dillon and Clark leading up to Barnett in the 400 free relay.
Junior Allie Steinhauser, who placed ninth in diving last season, also looks to give the Jaguars a chunk of points.
“We should be more relaxed and have more fun, and hopefully we’ll swim better,” Oberlander said. “If you’re tense, your muscles can’t relax. We couldn’t contain that nervous energy last year.”
While the Wildcats don’t possess the volume of participating swimmers as their rival Jaguars, Blue Springs certainly has some high-end firepower.
Senior Corinne Rinne is back to defend her state title in the 100 breast, while junior Ashley Sturman aims to improve on her seventh-place finish in the 500 free. Sturman also placed eighth in the 200 free last year, but instead she will compete in the 100 butterfly this weekend.
Rinne also will be in the 200 individual medley, junior Lindsey Meyer will be in the 50 free and 100 free and senior Leigh Ana Dietiker in the 100 back.
Those four girls are scheduled to handle the 200 medley and 200 free relays, as well. The Wildcats were fourth in the 200 free relay at last year’s state meet.
Senior Mariah Hagerty, who placed 10th in diving last year, also is returning to state.
Blue Springs coach Bill Shalley, whose team finished ninth in the standings last year, said the conference meet continued the progress he'd been seeing from his team in building toward this week.
“We cleaned up some techniques and fundamentals, and then all we did this week was work out a little less,” he said.
The girls have their individual goals, Shalley said, but the state meet is mostly about leaving nothing behind.
“Either you have a great swim or you don’t have a great swim,” he said. “If you don’t you have to move on to next one.”
Lee's Summit North
Sophomore Haley Hynes won the 200 individual medley and 100 backstroke last year, but Broncos coach Danielle Russell said the goal is more than simply repeating.
“Haley is going for the state record,” Russell said.
The backstroke mark to beat is 54.09, and Hynes was about a half-second off in the conference preliminaries before going 55.21 in the finals. Hynes also will lead the 200 medley relay and be in the 200 free relay for the Broncos, who were 11th as a team last year.
Junior Nicole Voss and seniors Kristin Herrick and Jennifer Gray join Hynes in the medley relay, with Gray, Herrick and sophomore Sydney Bresette joining the 200 free relay.
Voss will again be in the 100 breast, where she was 13th last year, as well as the 200 IM In the 400 free relay, Russell has Herrick, senior Regan Riley, freshman Anna Kellison and senior Alex Nutter.
“The goal is the top eight with the first two relays,” Russell said. “We’re fortunate enough to make the cuts, but we’re better placed this year. It would be really exciting for us to make the top eight in both (200-yard relays).”