COLUMBIA, Mo. – The Blue Springs girls swimming and diving team didn’t get the COMO Invitational off to a good start.

But the Wildcats finished strong Saturday, taking sixth place with 142 points, one ahead of seventh-place Blue Springs South (139) in the meet that is seen as one of the major precursors to the state championships in February.

It was the highest finish for the Wildcats in the meet at Mizzou Aquatic Center in Columbia since 2009.

“It was a tough 10-plus hour meet, but the girls did great,” Blue Springs coach Kevin Bigham said. “This is usually the fastest invite in the state all season, so it was a great measuring stick for us to see what we need to work on.

The meet got off to a tough start with our A-medley (200-yard medley relay team) getting disqualified (in the preliminaries), but the team really fought back and swam well,” the first-year coach added. “We had 94 percent season bests in prelims and had a lot of girls move up in finals. Maisy Kurucz, Natalie Sheehy and Shaedyn Read made the podium in all of their events, which should give them confidence in their ability to make first-team all-state come February."

Kurucz captured second place in the 100 freestyle (54.58 seconds) and seventh place in the 200-yard freestyle (1:58.37) to lead the way for Blue Springs.

Read claimed fourth in the 500 freestyle (5:09.91) and seventh in the 100 backstroke (1.01.43). Sheehy took sixth in 1-meter diving with a score of 350.15 and Katie Garten was ninth (333.65) to earn points.

The Wildcats took sixth in both the 200 freestyle relay (1:44.54) and 400 freestyle relay (3:44.57). Also earning points were Gracie Lefholz (15th, 200 individual medley, 2:22.05), Carson Ludwig (13th, 100 freestyle, 57.69) and Annemarie Rehbein (11th, 100 breaststroke, 1:10.35).

Raegan Hecker and divers Bailey Carter and Delaney Jackson led the way for Blue Springs South. Hecker grabbed fifth place in the 100 freestyle (55.20) and sixth in the 50 freestyle (25.12), both in state qualifying times.

Hecker also teamed with Gabby Fournier, Anna Zweerink, and McKenzie MacLean to claim third in the 200 freestyle relay (1:42.27) and fifth in the 400 free relay (3:44.33).

“Raegan Hecker had a great day with top-six finishes in all four of her events, which included state qualifying times in all of them as well,” Jaguars coach Errich Oberlander said. “Both of the freestyle relays also had great time drops.”

Carter took third in diving (408.40) while Jackson was fifth (353.55). Kirsten Markley also made the finals, claiming sixth in the 100 butterfly in a state qualifying time of 1:00.35.

MacLean took 11th in the 500 freestyle (5:27.52) and Zweerink was 15th in the 500 free (5:32.52) and 16th in the butterfly (1:02.33) to earn points for the Jaguars.