Free State High’s boys swimming practice took on a serious tone earlier this week. The Firebirds, who usually keep the mood light, were focusing for the Class 6A state meet, which begins today at Capitol Federal Natatorium in Topeka.
Prelims start at 1:30 p.m. today with finals scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
Several Free State swimmers enter the weekend as front-runners. Freshman Jordan Portela has posted the top-seeded times in both the 200-yard freestyle (1:44.05) and 100-yard butterfly (51.77), while senior Canaan Campbell is the favorite in the 500-yard freestyle (4:46.08). The Firebirds will also have the top seed in the 200-yard medley relay.
“I’m pretty excited,” Portela said. “I got to look at the (seedings) not too long ago and I’m pretty pumped. There’s a lot of people that will push me in my races and I hope to get some records, just succeed with my times and end the season off with a bang.”
Campbell is the No. 4 seed in the 200-yard individual medley (1:58.21) and junior Josh Terrell will be the No. 6 seed (1:58.80).
“Canaan is really seeded well,” Free State coach Annette McDonald said. “I know there’s competition out there, but I think that being a senior, being very goal-oriented, he’s going to be very focused on stepping up and getting the time he wants and the place he wants.”
Junior Jack Ziegler is the No. 6 seed in the 50-yard freestyle (22.02), while Nolan Stoppel (22.85) is the 13th seed and Hunter Robinson (22.98) is the 18th seed. Swimmers must finish in the top 16 during prelims to qualify for the finals on Saturday.
Terrell is the No. 3 seed in the 100-yard breaststroke (59.02) and Robinson is No. 17 (1:05.28). Junior Cooper Schmiedeler is seeded No. 24 in the 200-yard freestyle and Stoppel is No. 24 in the 100-yard freestyle. Sophomore Zachary Denny will be seeded No. 17 in the 500-yard freestyle.
Free State will also compete for titles in the other relays. The Firebirds are seeded No. 5 in the 400-yard freestyle relay and No. 3 in the 200-yard freestyle relay.
“They’re definitely going to be swimming fast on Friday and Saturday,” McDonald said. “I think it’ll be amazing about how much they really step up and are ready for this meet. This is kind of the goal, so you’re not always swimming your best times all season. ... We’re going to see some good times.”
Freshman Chad Bourdon will be the only diver competing for Free State.
Meanwhile, senior Caleb Axlund will be the only individual swimmer for Lawrence High. Axlund will be the No. 12 seed in the 100-yard backstroke. The Lions will also send all three of their relay teams to the state meet. The Lions are seeded No. 15 in the 200-yard medley, No. 15 in the 200-yard freestyle and No. 16 in the 400-yard freestyle.
Area swimmers at state
Mill Valley High junior Callahan Eckardt will race in two events at the Class 5-1A state meet, beginning on Friday at Capitol Federal Natatorium in Topeka.
Eckardt will be the second seed in the 200-yard freestyle and No. 12 seed in the 100-yard freestyle. Freshman Garrison Fangman is the No. 13 seed in the 100-yard butterfly.
Mill Valley will also be sending all three of its relay teams — 200-yard freestyle, 400-yard freestyle and 200-yard medley — to the state meet,
Meanwhile, De Soto High sophomore Miles Arnold is the No. 22 seed in the 500-yard freestyle and freshman Jarod Blazo is the No. 27 seed in the 100-yard backstroke.