Blue Springs South tennis guy Carter McIntosh captures state swimming title

Greg Uptain
Special to The Examiner
Blue Springs South junior Carter McIntosh receives his state championship medal after claiming the 50-yard freestyle state title with a school-record time of 21.22 seconds.

ST. PETERS, Mo. – Not too bad for a tennis guy. 

Carter McIntosh admits tennis has been the main focus of his high school sports career, but that may have changed after the weekend he had in suburban St. Louis. 

The Blue Springs South junior sped his way to the 50-yard freestyle championship at the Class 2 Missouri State High School Boys Swimming and Diving Championships Saturday afternoon at the St. Peters Rec-Plex. 

“It is very exciting. Going into the season, I was just planning on getting all-state in a relay or something and maybe our school record if there was a chance,” McIntosh said. “Tennis is my main sport right now, but it might turn into swimming after today, I'm not gonna lie. So, I only do these three months of high school swimming and that's it. It might change my mind a little bit. We'll see.” 

McIntosh did indeed break the Blue Springs South school record of 21.4 seconds by going 21.22 in the state final, barely edging out Lee's Summit West's Thomas Wozniak and Hickman's Sam Ragsdell, who tied for second at 21.28. 

“It's just awesome to see because he really does focus on a lot of those little things that it takes to be a really good sprinter,” Jaguars coach Errich Oberlander said. “The funny thing is I swam against his dad (James) in high school, so we've kind of got a little bit of history, too, and we've become good friends. So, it means even more.” 

McIntosh is Oberlander's first individual state swimming champ in his 13 years at the helm. The last Jaguar swimmer to win an individual title also came in the 50 free when Derrion Thomas captured it in 2007. 

“We've had a relay win (200 freestyle relay in 2016) and a diver win (Alex Burt in 2017), but I've never an individual (swimming) champion,” Oberlander said. “We've been close lots of times, but never got over that hump until today. And we did it by six-hundredths of a second.” 

McIntosh finished 13th in the 50 free as a sophomore with a time of 22.04. So, what was the key to him dropping nearly a second and winning a state title just one year later? 

“Definitely Coach Oberlander. It was all him,” said McIntosh, who also finished 11th in the 100 freestyle (48.31). “His strategies. How he swam us this year was way different than last year. We did a lot more sprints than long distance. And me not being a long-distance person, that helps a lot.” 

McIntosh was a part of one other championship final Saturday when he swam the final leg of the Jaguars' eighth-place 200 free relay team that also included fellow juniors Jacob Suchman and Broedy Gilburn and senior George Bahr. That quartet finished in a time of 1 minute, 30.56 seconds, a little more than a half-second off their time in Friday's Class 2 preliminaries. 

One other area athlete made it to the state medal stand Saturday, as Blue Springs junior JJ Davis finished seventh in the one-meter diving competition. 

“It's really exciting. I put a lot of work into this and it's exciting to see it pay off,” Davis said. “It definitely felt consistent – a lot more consistent than most days.” 

Davis compiled 406.25 points, eclipsing his total of 383.60 when he finished 11th as a sophomore. His final dive Saturday was his best, earning him his highest score of the day at 49 points. 

“That one was stressful there since it's my hardest dive by far,” he said. 

Blue Springs South senior James Price just missed the diving finals (top 16) last season, but got there this year and brought home a 12th-place finish with 380.80 points. 

“I feel really accomplished. It was my one goal to make top 16 and I finally made it, so I feel greatly appreciative,” Price said. “Honestly, today was probably one of my best meets I've ever had. I was focused and consistent and I felt like I could do anything.” 

Blue Springs junior Blake Niemann also made the diving finals, amassing 350.60 points for a 16th-place finish. 

Blue Springs and Blue Springs South combined to have five of the 32 divers at the Class 2 meet, a number that thrilled Missy Jackson, who coaches both dive teams. 

“It's a great group of guys and I'm glad that they all made it down here and had a successful day,” she said. “We train together and so it's nice to be able to see your biggest competition every day in practice. It gives you something to work hard for because they always try to beat each other.” 

In the area team rankings, Blue Springs South totaled 66 points to finish in 11th place. Blue Springs tallied 17 points to finish tied for 22nd. Lee's Summit North had just 8 points to come in 27th. Rockhurst (329) edged Lee’s Summit West (290) for the title, the Hawklets’ 13th (all since 2005) and second straight. St. Louis University High (236) and Park Hill South (204) rounded out the top four. 

“An 11th place finish for us is really solid, so I was really happy with that. We scored points in almost every event we brought down here, so it was a really nice meet for us,” Oberlander said. “We have two seniors on the swimming side and two seniors on the diving side and obviously we bring back a defending state champion next year. I don't know what I've got coming in, but hopefully we'll make some good noise again down here next year.” 

Gilburn made the 100 butterfly consolation final and finished 12th (54.65) to earn points for the Jaguars. Bahr claimed 13th place in the 100 breaststroke (1:01.17) and barely missed the consolation finals in the 200 freestyle, finishing 17th (1:48.38). 

The Jaguars also took 15th in the 400 freestyle consolation finals (3:22.42) with Sawyer Jackson, Gilburn, Bahr and McIntosh. 

Lee’s Summit North’s 200 medley relay team of Graham Adkins, Ben Luna, Weston Hemmerling and Grand Idoux finished 14th (1:44.37), while the Blue Springs team of Larry Baldwin, John Bellinghausen, William Harris and Jack Johnson took 15th (1:44.43). 

North’s Idoux, Hemmerling, Adkins and Seth Bishop finished 16th in the 200 free relay (1:32.27).