The Blue Springs girls swimming and diving team has some top-level talent but a lack of depth makes it tougher to claim a conference title.
That was the case Saturday in the finals of the Suburban Big Six Championships at Lee’s Summit Aquatic Center.
Despite some strong performances from Shaedyn Read, Jenna Wright, Carson Ludwig, Gracie Lefholz and Annemarie Rehbein, Blue Springs took third with 363 points.
Blue Springs South was fourth (321) and Lee’s Summit North was fifth (269). Lee’s Summit West won the event with 426 points.
“For where we are at with our depth and the amount of talent that we have, we knew it was going to be tough,” Blue Springs coach Kevin Bigham said. “Lee’s Summit West and Park Hill have tremendous coaches and programs. We gave it everything we have, and I am proud of the girls.”
Read, a senior, led the way as she took first in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 5 minutes, 10.59 seconds; and she also won the 100-yard backstroke at 1:00.16. While not satisfied with her performance overall, Read was happy with her backstroke, a season-best finish.
“In the 100 backstroke, I had some really good competition,” Read said. “There was a girl from Park Hill who was good and pushed me. That helped me get my best time.”
Bigham was happy to see Read continue her strong performances in the conference meet.
“Shaedyn is the definition of consistency when it comes to winning individual championships at conference,” Bigham said. ”She’s won every individual event she’s swam in at conference since her freshman year.
“Shaedyn, Jenna and Annemarie all have a shot of (winning a state title). We’re going to make sure they are nice and rested and ready to go.”
Wright accounted for 37 points in her individual events. She won the 200 freestyle (1:58.98) and finished second in the 100 freestyle (54.17). She has an eye on her first all-state finish (top eight) this season.
“I had my best time in the 200 today, so I was excited,” Wright said. “I am really excited about state. I hope it goes how we planned.”
Bigham said he believes Wright has a good shot at finishing in the top eight at state.
“Jenna Wright is turning into the swimmer we know that she can become,” Bigham said. “She’s one of the most athletic and one of the most talented swimmers I’ve ever coached. It was really exciting to see her do so well today.
“She is one of the swimmers we are gearing up for state and not concentrating so much on conference. Once we get her tapered for state, the sky’s the limit. I think she will shock the world.”
Rehbein and Lefholz also earned a pair of all-conference finishes. Rehbein was second in the 100 breaststroke (1:08.89) and third in the 200 individual medley (2:18.10). Lefholz took third in the 100 breaststroke (1:13.79) and fifth in the 200 IM (2:22.51).
Other Wildcats with top-five finishes were Ludwig took third in the 200 free (third, 2:02.36). In diving, Katie Garten took second (428.55 points for 11 dives) and Mackenzie Loudermilk was fifth (338.50).
Blue Springs also fared well in relays. The team of Wright, Lefholz, Read and Rehbein took first (3:42.12) in the 400 free relay and won the 200 free relay (1:54.27).
Blue Springs South head coach Errich Oberlander jumped up and pumped his fists as he saw his 200 free relay team of Regi Hecker, Gabby Fournier, Kennedy Rucker and Anna Zweerink take second (1:42.03) after it finished sixth in Friday’s preliminaries. The 400 free relay team Hecker, Maelyn MacLean, Fournier and Zweerink took third (4:52.27).
“That was the first time we swam that combination all year in a big meet,” Oberlander said of the 200 free relay team. “It really paid off. It was a great swim for us.”
Zweerink captured the Jaguars’ lone individual title, prevailing in the 100 butterfly in 1:00.26.
“I felt great. I was excited and pumped going in,” Zweerink said of her butterfly win. “I was seeded first, which made me a little anxious. But I had some good competition to push me.”
She also took fourth in the 200 free (2:02.53).
“Anna had a great weekend,” Oberlander said. “It was a big goal of hers to win the 100 butterfly. I think we’ve won that in this event four years in a row.
“I love what our team did this weekend. We had some young girls who never swam at this meet before, and they showed up big time.”
Hecker took third in both the 50 freestyle (24.93) and 100 free (54.73), Fournier was fourth in the 50 free (25.76) and the 100 backstroke (1:05.75) and MacLean was fourth in the 500 free (5:39.71).
Annie McCord led Lee’s Summit North by winning diving with 441.50 points.
Morgan Andersen took fifth in both the 50 free (25.92) and 100 free (55.86) for the Broncos. Hayden Bentley (100 backstroke, 1:03.20) and Kelly Connolly (100 butterfly, 1:02.96) each finished third. Maggie Phillips was fourth in the 100 butterfly (1:03.47), Macie Menges was fifth in the 500 free (5:43.76) and the 200 free (1:44.51) and 400 free (3:52.64) relay teams each finished fourth.
SUBURBAN SMALL SEVEN: Grain Valley coach Kara Liddle was ecstatic with her team’s finish in its first year in the Suburban Small Seven Championships.
The Eagles took third with 325.50 points Saturday at Lee's Summit Aquatic Center. Platte County won with 475 points.
“I am super excited,” Liddle said. “Everybody did great. We had a swimmers finish in the top eight with best times in every event.”
Rachel Turpin, Alyssa Hanenkratt, Bailey Reich, Maddie Epple each had a pair of all-conference finishes to lead the Eagles.
Turpin finished third in both the 100-yard butterfly (1:02.95) and the 100 breaststroke (1:15.67). Reich was third in the 500 free (6:04.89) and sixth in the 100 backstroke (1:12.12). Hanenkratt took fourth in the 500 free (6:22.83) and tied for fifth in the 200 free (2:21.74), and Epple was sixth in both the 50 free (28.22) and 100 free (1:02.42).
Those four combined to take fourth in the 400 free relay (4:20.03). Epple, Olivia White, Turpin and Reich took third in the 200 free relay (1:58.29).
Hayden Meyer took second in diving (370.50), while Piper Barnard was fourth (306.15). Ella Boyle finished sixth in the 200 IM (2:47.04) for the Eagles.