It’s become an annual tradition for Blue Springs South divers Bailey Carter and Delaney Jackson.
For the fourth year in a row, Carter and Jackson have produced state-qualifying performances as both surpassed 240 points Tuesday during a three-team meet with Lee’s Summit North and Lee’s Summit West at the Blue Springs YMCA.
“It’s fun,” said Carter, a two-time state medalist who won the event with 263.70 points. “We worked hard in practice the last few weeks. We push each other a lot and make each other better. … It felt pretty good (being on the board). Usually I try to not stress about it and just have fun. That makes me do a lot better.”
Jackson, whose 241 points earned second place, competed for the first time since having to undergo two surgeries in the offseason.
“I was just happy to be back in the water, better yet make state,” she said. “It means a lot to already qualify. Now we can just focus on new dives and improving and not stress about getting a certain score.”
While Carter and Jackson paced South on the diving board, MacKenzie MacLean shined for the Jaguars in the pool.
MacLean trounced the competition in the 500-yard freestyle by more than 45 seconds with a state-qualifying time of 5 minutes, 25.39 seconds before anchoring the 200 freestyle relay (1:45.31) to first place and a state berth.
She also helped the 400 freestyle relay (4:00.51) to the gold medal and took second in the 100 backstroke (1:09.03).
“The 500 is one of my favorite events,” MacLean said. “I’m more of a distance swimmer and usually it’s my best event. Going in I knew I was pretty far ahead time-wise of the (second seed), so it was kind of my goal to just lap as many people as I could. I knew if I could do that I would probably qualify.”
MacLean teamed up with Raegan Hecker, Anna Zweerink and Gabby Fournier to win both relays, the foursome coming in under the qualifying mark in the 200 by more than half a second and posting a consideration time in the 400.
“I’ve never been on the 200 relay before,” MacLean said. “It was a new experience doing that, but it was definitely a lot of fun winning. It’s awesome to qualify for state already. Usually in the relays it’s hard to post qualifying times early in the season, but getting that out of the way in the first meet is really big for us.”
MacLean ended up competing in four of the last five events, all coming within a span of about 20 minutes.
“I beat her up a little bit having her do that,” South coach Errich Oberlander said with a chuckle. “I know she can handle it, that’s why. And that’s part of the training process. You beat them up at the beginning of the season so when we get to the end of the season and we’re fresh we can really rock and roll.”
The Jaguars – who totaled 452 points to finish 12 points behind West (464) and ahead of North (335) – also received wins from Hecker in the 50 freestyle (26.38) and Kirsten Markley in the 100 butterfly (1:02.34) and 200 freestyle (2:08.25).
“I was happy with the way it all turned out,” Oberlander said. “Going up against West and North is always a good barometer right off the bat. Qualifying three swimmers and a relay for state is a good place to start, but it’s not where we want to finish, obviously. We tired a bit later in the meet, but that’s to be expected. We’re not used to these quick two-hour meets where we’re zooming through the events. But I thought we did really well.”
Hayden Bentley took second place in the 500 freestyle (6:10.99) and Morgan Anderson (50 freestyle, 27.23), Annie McCord (diving, 228.55) and Macie Menges (100 backstroke, 1:11.36) each finished third to lead Lee’s Summit North.
Molly Harmon won the 100 freestyle (56.62) and 100 breaststroke (1:11.86, state cut) to pace Lee’s Summit West.