Olathe After watching sophomore swimmer Nolan Frank step down from the medal stand without doing his signature victory dance, the rest of the Free State High boys swimming team admitted to being a little surprised.
It turns out Frank had good reason for passing on the Pasa Doble after winning the 100 backstroke at Saturday’s Sunflower League swim meet at Prairie Trail Junior High.
“I figured that it wouldn’t go over too well here,” Frank said. “It’s probably more for dual meets and things like that. I was also thinking that me actually doing it would have disqualified our entire team.”
Whether that was because of Frank’s skills or league rules is unknown. But there was nothing suspect about the sophomore’s performance in the water.
Frank, the city’s lone swimmer to bring home a league championship, also contributed to two FSHS relay medals and helped lead the Firebirds to a fifth-place finish.
“Top five was the goal at the beginning of the season,” Free State coach Annette McDonald said. “And we made top five.”
The Firebirds finished third in the 400 freestyle relay and fourth in the 200 medley relay. But an eighth-place finish in the 200 freestyle relay overshadowed them both. Not because of the finish, but because of the time. Free State’s Alec Wroten, Eric Gruber, Tony Libeer and Julian McCafferty swam a 1:36.40, which stands as their best time of the season and was good enough to crack the necessary time to qualify for state.
Thanks to their efforts Saturday, the Firebirds now have qualified all three relays for the state meet.
“We’ve always kind of considered ourselves to be the Bad News Bears of swimming,” Frank said. “And it’s just great that we came in here and competed with these teams that have year-round swimmers and guys who swim for club teams and all that.”
Also making noise at Saturday’s meet was Lawrence High. And thanks to the performance of freshman Zach Andregg, the Lions’ showing was loud enough for everyone to hear.
Andregg finished third in the 200 individual medley and fourth in the 500 freestyle, giving the Lions their only two medals of the day and a tie for eighth place.
Andregg swam a 2:09.90 in the 200 IM and a speedy 5:01.25 in the 500 free. In the distance race, he shaved six seconds off Friday’s preliminary time, which was six seconds faster than his previous best coming into the weekend.
“He’s been dropping about that many seconds every time out,” LHS coach Kent McDonald said. “Of course, it’s been a little more important every time, too.”
That, Andregg said, was part of what fueled his double-medal day.
“I just tried to stay focused and felt in control more today,” he said. “If I get into the race more, that propels me to do my best. And having better people to race against pushes me even more.”
Lawrence’s Will Pendleton also turned in a nice day, finishing ninth in the ultra-competitive 50 freestyle and ninth in the 100 freestyle.
LHS diver Matthias Reiber improved on his first-day total by more than 100 points and finished eighth in the diving with 321.55.
Other notable finishes for the Firebirds came from Logan Sloan (8th) and Wroten (10th) in the 100 butterfly, as well as Gruber (11th in the 100 breaststroke) and McCafferty, who finished 11th in the 100 freestyle.
Next up for the Firebirds and Lions is the state meet, Feb. 20-21 in Topeka.