The Lee’s Summit North boys swim team was low on numbers.
Well, it was compared to some of the other teams in the Suburban Big Six Conference meet. But what the Broncos may lack in depth, they more than make up for it in quality.
That was proven Saturday when North won nine out of 12 events to take second place with 477 points at the Lee’s Summit Aquatic Center. Lee’s Summit West won with 534 points, Blue Springs tied Park Hill for third with 234 points and Blue Springs South was fifth with 238.
Despite losing top tier swimmers to graduation from the 2018 team (Grant Godard and J.P. Hynes), the Broncos have formed a new big three in 2019. Joining defending Examiner Boys Swimmer of the Year Daniel Worth are Lance Godard and Andrew Bennett.
Those three each won two events and were a part of North’s three first-place relay teams.
Worth, who won the state title in the 100-yard breaststroke last year, broke the conference record in the event with a time of 56.60 seconds, and he did it without having anyone even coming close to keeping up with him. He also took the 500 freestyle (4 minutes, 46.03 seconds).
“For me, it’s not even about swimming well just in Missouri anymore, I am going for national times,” said Worth, who competes in USA Swimming national events in the offseason. “I have friends in different states who are very, very quick swimmers. I train hard everyday in practice because I want to be the best.
“I am going to try to shatter the state record (in the 100 breaststroke). I think I can do it as long as I am not swimming the 500 (free) 20 minutes before.”
Godard, who transferred to North from St. Michael the Archangel Catholic (which doesn’t have a swim team), has been a huge addition. He showed why as he won the 100 backstroke in 51.97 seconds and the 100 butterfly in a conference-record time of 49.71.
“I also beat (brother Grant’s) team record (in the 100 fly),” Godard said. “I am ranked first in the state in both my individual events. I want to win both at state.”
Bennett, who was a part of two first-place relay teams at state in 2018, has taken a huge leap forward individually this season, according to his teammates. He has some state title aspirations and showed he was capable of doing so. He took first in both the 100 freestyle (47.97) and 50 freestyle (21.50).
“I am pretty proud of the times I had in (the preliminaries) yesterday,” Bennett said. “I didn’t feel so good today. I don’t have as much energy because I used a lot yesterday. I was kind of disappointed in my times, but I still won.”
North head coach Thomas Faulkenberry said his big three help in more ways than just swimming well.
“They’ve really stepped up in leadership roles above all else,” Faulkenberry said. “They have really helped the other guys who weren’t even top eight in conference last year and now they are going to state.”
The big three also were a big part of the relay wins as the 200 medley relay team of Alder Harding, Worth, Godard and Bennett finished with a time of 1:34.31. Worth, Grant Idoux, Clayton Adkins and Bennett finished the 200 free relay at 1:28.64, and the 400 free team of Harding, Idoux, Adkins and Godard won in 3:18.65.
“We believe we are one of the best teams on the pool deck every night,” Worth said. “We believe we are the best, but with us, it’s really just about depth. We have some of the fastest swimmers. If we had more swimmers, we could have won. We look to our left and right and know we can beat those swimmers.”
Cogan Davis and Tim Schweizer sparked Blue Springs as they combined for three top-five finishes. Davis was fifth in the 50 free (23.02) and second in the 100 backstroke (53.09). Schweizer was second in the 100 breaststroke (58.54). Josiah Thompson took first in diving with a score of 493.40 points.
“We have so many new guys this season,” Blue Springs coach Kevin Bigham said. “If someone told me at the beginning of the season that we’d be one of the top three teams in the conference, I would have done backflips.”
For South, the 200 medley relay team of Ryan Griffel, George Bahr, Landon Luke and Josh Hofner took second (1:41.86); Bahr was second in the 200 freestyle (1:46.10) and fifth in the 100 breaststroke (1:02.62); Luke was fifth in the 100 butterfly (56.19); Griffel was fourth in the 100 backstroke (56.17); and the 400 free relay team of Hafner, Luke, Chasen Smith and Bahr was second (3:22.33). James Price, who is a first-year diver, qualified for state with a score of 415 points.
“As a sophomore, that’s pretty strong stuff,” South coach Errich Oberlander said of Bahr. “He swam his best time ever in the 200 free. He also helped us medal in the relays. Our relays were way better than I thought they would be. They blew me away.”
SUBURBAN SMALL SEVEN: Grain Valley, competing without senior all-state swimmer Wyatt Huffman, got some strong performances from its divers as it took fourth overall with 205 points. Kearney won with 493.
Jackson Lane took first in diving with a score of 374.80 and Jadyn Cunningham was third with 296.20 points. Jace Tipton led the Eagles in swimming events by taking sixth in the 200 individual medley (2:28.71) and eighth in the 100 butterfly (1:06.13).