Maisy Kurucz played beat the clock Friday afternoon – and won.
Having already qualified for the state meet in the 200-yard freestyle, the Blue Springs senior swimmer sought to break the 2-minute mark when she competed in the event Friday during a five-team meet Blue Springs hosted at Centennial Pool-Plex. Kurucz finished with a winning time of 1 minute, 59.68 seconds.
“That’s a good breakthrough,” she said.
Kurucz attributed her time primarily to “having good competition.”
“We haven’t had a ton of that this season yet,” she said.
Kurucz also won the 100 freestyle in 55.48 seconds to help the Wildcats win the meet with 386 points, topping rival Blue Springs South (321), St. Teresa’s (200), Wedd City (179) and Smithville (102).
Natalie Sheehy punched her ticket to state by topping previously undefeated Bailey Carter of Blue Springs South in 1-meter diving. She totaled 253.05 to top Carter (248.80) and South’s Delaney Jackson (244.95), who had finished 1-2 in each of their meets this season.
Blue Springs’ other individual winners were Shaedyn Read in the 500 freestyle (5:25.10) and 100 backstroke (1:02.44), Annemarie Rehbein in the 100 breaststroke (1:12.08) and Gracie Lefholz in the 200 individual medley. Blue Springs coach Kevin Bigham said that Lefholz’s emotional strength was the key to her victory.
“She was not feeling great today, but no one’s tougher,” Bigham said. “No one in the whole world’s tougher than Gracie Lefholz. I’ve been coaching Gracie since the first day I stepped on a pool deck, and Gracie’s the definition of grit.”
Lefholz led the Wildcats in locking up the top three spots in the 200 IM, posting a time of 2:27.13. Rehbein (2:30.50) and Brenna Walsh (2:33.58) finished second and third, respectively.
“That’s what we really wanted to do,” Lefholz said.
Blue Springs also won two relays, including the meet finale, the 400 freestyle relay. Read held off Blue Springs South’s McKenzie MacLean near the end of the anchor leg to help the Wildcats finish in 3:49.13 – .6 of a second margin of victory.
“Shaedyn Read, she’s a huge part of our team,” Bigham said. “She’s who we want anchoring relays lots of times. She’s a hard worker and she’s a great racer.”
South’s runner-up relay finish was among eight second-place finishes for the Jaguars. South also won two events – one of them being the 200 freestyle relay.
“Our 200 free relay and 400 free relay (teams) were really solid today,” Jaguars coach Errich Oberlander said. “Best times of the year, so that’s encouraging.”
South’s winning relay team consisted of Raegan Hecker, Gabby Fournier, Anna Zweerink and MacLean. Zweerink also scored an individual victory in the 100 butterfly. Bolstered by her last turn, the sophomore finished in 1:02.37.
“I feel like I did pretty well,” said Zweerink, who also finished second in the 500 freestyle (5:43.38). “It’s still early in the season, so I’m encouraged to have my times down that low.”
Overall, Zweerink “had a really nice meet,” Oberlander said. He’s expecting her to be swimming the butterfly at state in February.
“She’s just missed that state cut in the fly a couple times now,” he said. “But she’ll easily get that in the next few weeks.”