Lawrence High's boys swimming and diving team is poised to make a run today for the state championship -- much to the delight of its coach.
"We have swum literally out of our minds," LHS coach Pat Grzenda said after the Lions swam their way to eight championship and five consolation finals berths during prelims Friday at KU's Robinson Natatorium. "I don't know if it's enough ultimately to win this meet -- Blue Valley Northwest has been sensational today -- but we have just had a terrific day.
"I couldn't ask for a better day than this."
The Lions success was due in part to a swimmer who has been solid all season and a swimmer who has been known to get under his coach's skin.
Lawrence junior Jun Kuribayashi, who has already set three personal school records this year, qualified second in both the 50-meter freestyle and the 100-meter backstroke.
Kuribayashi was also a part of two relay teams which placed -- the 200-meter medley relay and the 400-meter freestyle relay. The 400-meter relay team -- which also includes Steve Miller, Jonathan Hemphill and Chris Collins -- broke its own school record with a time 3:21.65 and will be seeded second today.
Miller, the lead leg on that relay team, received plenty of praise from his coach and teammates after the meet.
"He's something else," Grzenda said. "I am so thrilled for him. He makes me crazy sometimes, but that boy has got some ability."
Miller laughed when he heard what his coach said and admitted that he might get to her every now and then.
"I'm active and rowdy and I always have something to say," Miller explained with a smile. "As she said, if I didn't swim with the motivation and dedication that I do, she probably would have slapped me silly by now. But, she drives us crazy too."
Miller finished fifth in the 200-meter freestyle and sixth in the 100 freestyle, in addition to participating on the relay team.
Miller didn't even start swimming until his freshman year. Kuribayashi talked Miller into trying out for the team.
"Jun asked me to come out one day," Miller said. "He told me to swim for a week and if I liked it, to stay. Three years later, here I am."
Kuribayashi is glad that he is, too.
"He doesn't get recognized enough," Kuribayashi said. "But you've got to give the guy a lot of credit. Him and I have this thing going where we pull each other along. It's just friendly competition, but that's really what brings our team together."