Blue Springs girls swim coach Kevin Bigham and his top two swimmers – Maisy Kurucz and Shaedyn Read – agreed for them to swim events that they normally don’t for their latest meet.
It ended up working out.
Kurucz won the 500-yard freestyle and 200 individual medley, while Read picked up wins in the 100 freestyle and 200 freestyle to help guide the Wildcats to a Kansas City Classic first-place finish for the first time in five years Saturday at the Henley Aquatic Center.
“I just wanted to kind of mix it up,” Bigham said. “We wanted to challenge them, but girls like Shaedyn and Maisy don’t really have off events. You put them in events that they may not necessarily do every week, but they are still going to give us high-level performances and they really helped us bring home that first-place trophy.”
Blue Springs dominated the 20-meet, finishing with 362 points, 125 points ahead of second-place Staley (237). Lee’s Summit North tied Kearney for sixth with 183 points, Blue Springs South, who had just its divers competing, was 14th with 41 points and Truman was 18th with 14 points.
Although she won’t be swimming the 500 freestyle at state, Kurucz earned the state cut with a first-place time of 5 minutes, 24.25 seconds. And she swam the 200 IM for the first time this season and won with a time of 2:16.54, more than 3 seconds ahead of the runner-up.
It was a nice change of pace, according to the senior.
“I’ve been swimming the 200 free and 100 free pretty much every meet,” Kurucz said. “It was a good to get a different feel for some other events. And let some other people get to try different events.
“I am not really used to the 500 free, so it was a little bit different, but I am glad I got to try something new.”
Read prevailed in the pair of events that Kurucz normally swims, winning the 200 freestyle in 1:57.35 and won the 100 freestyle in 54.10 seconds.
“I don’t normally swim those either,” Read said. “I usually swim the 500 (free) and 100 back(stroke). It was nice to get a break from the 500 … a little bit.”
Those two were also a part of the winning 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams. Carson Ludwig, Sierra Heuston and Sydney Franklin joined Read to post a time of 1:43.85 in the 200 relay; and Read, Kurucz, Ludwig and Jenna Wright combined for a time of 3:45.10 in the 400 free relay, as they dropped 10 seconds off their time from the preliminaries.
“We usually get really hyped up for that last race,” Kurucz said. “I think we just came together and just really wanted to win it and go out with a bang. We had a really good meet leading up to it, so we wanted to end on a good note.”
The Blue Springs 200 medley relay team of Kurucz, Gracie Leftholz, Wright and Annemarie Rehbein captured fourth (1:58.04). Rehbein took second in the 100 breaststroke (1:10.96) and seventh in the 200 IM (2:30.50). Gracie Lefholz was fourth in the 500 free (5:36.00) and tied teammate Carson Ludwig for seventh in the 200 freestyle (2:07.45). Ludwig also took seventh in the 100 free (57.95), and Brenna Walsh was eighth in the 200 IM (2:33.80). Wright was seventh in the 100 backstroke (1:04.99)
The day before, the Wildcat divers also put the team in a good position going into Saturday as Katie Garten finished fifth with 404.10 points and Natalie Sheehy was sixth with 395.75.
“I am really proud of the way the girls stepped up and raced,” Bigham said. “They moved up and it was just a total team effort. We had a really tough week of training. I was surprised to see how we performed the last couple of days.
“Last night, Katie Garten had an amazing round and she earned her automatic state cut. We really expect great things from Natalie and Katie.”
Winning a meet with some of the top teams in the area has given the Wildcats confidence just a month out from the state meet, as they aim to get their first state plaque for a top-four finish since winning the state title in 2009.
“I think so, that’s the ultimate goal,” Kurucz said of finishing in the top four at state. “We’re just going to keep working hard. We have a month left.”
For Blue Springs South, Bailey Carter won the 1-meter diving event with 458.90 points and Delaney Jackson was fourth with 405.45 points.
For Lee’s Summit North, Annie McCord was second in diving for the Broncos with a 415.70, the Broncos 400 free relay team of Kelly Connolly, Cassandra Nanninga, Hayden Bentley and Morgan Anderson was sixth at 4:05.33, Macie Menges was sixth in the 500 free at 5:52.91 and Maggie Phillips was seventh in the 100 butterfly at 1:05.94.
Rian Caswell led Truman with a 10th-place finish in the 100 breaststroke (1:17.80) and Jennifer Sailor was 14th in diving.