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Surviving a tough field: Broncos take fourth in Big Eight finals

By Michael Smith
Associated Press
Blue Springs' Annemarie Rehbein swims to a victory in the 100-yard breaststroke in the Suburban Big Eight Championships Saturday at Blue Springs South. Rehbein also took third in the 200 IM.

With two schools added to the top division of the Suburban Conference this season, Lee’s Summit North girls swimming and diving head coach Thomas Faulkenberry knew it would be tough to finish in the top four.

But his Broncos did just that, taking fourth behind recent powers Lee’s Summit West, Liberty North and Liberty in the Suburban Big Eight Championships Saturday at the Blue Springs South High School Aquatic Center.

“I am really happy with the team placement,” North coach Thomas Faulkenberry said after his team totaled 247 points. “We knew we were coming into a fast meet with Lee’s Summit West and the two Liberty schools also competing. We just wanted to compete and stay in it as long as we could.”

Blue Springs South took fifth at 229 and Blue Springs was seventh at 172.

The Broncos garnered their only win and a good amount of team points in the 1-meter diving event Thursday as Annica Valmassei took first with an 11-dive score of 504.40 points and Sedona Miles took third (394.45).

Madison Goff, Erin Davis and Anna Hess led the way for North’s swimmers with all-conference honors in two individual events each.

Lee's Summit North's Anna Hess swam to a pair of second-place finishes in Saturday's Suburban Big Eight Championships finals, including this 100-yard backstroke race and the 100 butterfly.

Goff was fourth in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 25.27 seconds and seventh in the 100 free (56.89). She was also a part of the runner-up 200 medley relay team (1:53.11) along with Hess, Olivia Neidt and Lille Zoller.

Hess took second in the 100 butterfly (59.17), finishing only .3 of a second behind Liberty’s Ellie Hartwig. She also took second in the 100 backstroke (1:00.18), missing out on first by just .13 of a second to Lee’s Summit West’s Lydia Grider.

“The prelims were a little rough, but I did well in the finals,” said Hess, who swam automatic state qualifying times in both. “With Liberty and Liberty North, it definitely made the competition harder.”

Erin Davis was also all-conference in the 100 backstroke (1:02.96), taking fourth. She also was eighth in the 200 individual medley (2:22.47).

Olivia Neidt was the other Bronco to get all-conference in an individual event as she took fifth in the 100 breaststroke (1:13.48).

Kara Good and Kennedy Hecker highlighted Blue Springs South’s showing with two individual all-conference honors apiece.

Blue Springs South freshman Kara Good swims breaststroke leg of the 200-yard individual medley during the Suburban Big Eight Championships finals Saturday. Good took fourth and also finished second in the 100 breaststroke, breaking a school freshman record that had stood since 1999.

Good broke a school freshman record that had stood since 1999 when she finished second in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:08.48 in the preliminaries. Her finals time was nearly identical as she took second again at 1:08.50. She also finished fourth in the 200 individual medley (2:15.91).

“(South head coach Errich Oberlander) told me about the record at the beginning of the season, but I pushed it away because it seemed so far away at the time,” Good said. “It just felt amazing to break the record in front of my teammates and coaches because they have been so supportive.”

Hecker claimed fifth in the 50 freestyle (25.28) and fourth in the 100 free (55.60).

“I dropped a lot of time,” Hecker said. “It’s been fun to swim with the girls really. This season was just so wacky with COVID. I was just blessed to swim really.”

Blue Springs South's Kennedy Hecker sprints to a fifth-place finish in the 50-yard freestyle to help the host Jaguars finish fifth as a team in the Suburban Big Eight Championships Saturday.

The Hecker-Good duo were a part of South’s two best relay teams.They joined Micaela Richards and Amy Pollard on the 200 medley relay squad that finished fourth (1:55.78). Good and Hecker teamed up with Maelyn MacLean and Landry Johnson to take fourth in the 200 free relay (1:43.78).

Other Jaguars to finish in the top eight were Giuliana Biscari in diving (sixth, 379.05) and MacLean in the 500 free (eighth, 5:38.85).

“We competed well all weekend and had some really nice swims from some young kids,” Oberlander said. “The girls did about what I thought they would.”

Blue Springs had three competitors stand out. Annemarie Rehbein continued her stellar high school career as she won the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:06.94. She also had a personal best time of 2:15.22 to take third in the 200 IM.

“I finished second last year in the breaststroke, so I am definitely hoping to get first at state this year,” Rehbein said. “I just need to clean up the little things like my turns.

“I swam in the IM the last three years and have gotten better at the event. I hope to get all-state in that event, too.”

Blue Springs sophomore I'yana Foster swims to a second-place finish in the 200-yard freestyle in the Suburban Big Eight Championships Saturday at Blue Springs South. Foster also took second in the 500 freestyle.

I’yana Foster had a strong meet as well, finishing second in two events. She was the runner-up in the 200 freestyle (1:59.10) and the 500 free (5:23.31).

“Annemarie and I’yana have a really good chance of finishing in the top eight at state,” Blue Springs coach Kevin Bigham said. “They have been consistent all year.”

Shayla Aten was the other Wildcat to earn all-conference honors as she took second in diving (431.15).