For Free State High's boys swimming and diving team, it is the final tune-up; for Lawrence High, it is the final chance.
The city squads will be among 12 teams at the Sunflower League swimming and diving meet starting at 5 p.m. today -- weather permitting-- and continuing Saturday at Olathe California Trail Junior High. It is the last competition before the state meet Feb. 21 in Manhattan, meaning the last chance to secure a few more qualifiers for the big show.
"I think it does put some pressure on them," LHS coach Alicia Jackson said. "Especially for the seniors."
A thin Lawrence squad only has one state qualifier so far -- diver Nick Leet, who consistently has posted high scores all season. Two senior swimmers, Ian Legler and Phillip Wrigley, have made consideration times. So, too, has Lawrence's 200 freestyle relay team.
But consideration is no guarantee, and that is what the Lions are hoping to get out of the Sunflower League meet: a few more guaranteed tickets to state.
"As a team, we'd like to finish in the top 11," Jackson said, "but I think the ultimate goal is for our seniors and our relay team to qualify for state."
Meanwhile, talented and deep Free State is shooting for the league crown. Going against the likes of Shawnee Mission East and Olathe East will make it a challenge, but FSHS coach Annette McDonald felt her team was ready.
"It's going to be tough," McDonald said. "There are no guarantees."
The Firebirds outscored Olathe East at the Mo-Kan meet in January; Free State hasn't seen SM East this season.
Remarkably, everyone who won an individual league title last year, including four Firebirds -- Chris Wolff, Chris Sellon, Alex Brunfeldt and Anthony Portela -- is back this year.
The league crown isn't the only goal, though. Free State already has qualified six individuals and all three relay teams for the state meet later this month.
But, for a team wanting its best shot at a state title, the Firebirds would like a few more to make the trip to Manhattan.
"We spent a lot of time talking to the guys as well as looking at results from previous meets to consider what position to put them in," McDonald said. "I think we got our best lineup."