Free State 2nd at league swimming

With one race left Saturday afternoon at the Sunflower League Championships, Free State High’s girls swimmers listened to the voice coming from the public-address system as it read off the team point totals, from fewest to most.

The Firebirds heard their team’s name called second to last, right before Shawnee Mission East. But the point differential between FSHS and the Lancers — 18 — was large enough that all SME had to do in the 400 free relay was complete it to secure its 10th consecutive team title.

That didn’t deter Free State’s relay swimmers one bit, though. Sophomore Cierra Campbell, junior Eliza Anderson, senior Lucy Sirimongkhon-Dyck and junior Courtney Caldwell won the final race of the day, giving FSHS championships in eight of the 12 events.

Caldwell, who won the 50 free in 23.6 seconds before setting a league record in the 100 fly at 56.06, promised FSHS coach Annette McDonald the day before that the Firebirds would win the last relay event, no matter what — even if they had to compete without their swimming caps.

So finishing as runners-up in the points race wasn’t going to change their plans.

“We didn’t want (SME) to win by that much more,” Caldwell said. “It was another event we won and something we can be proud of.”

The final point tally read: Lancers, 330; Firebirds, 318. Campbell, a league champion in the 200 free (1:56.7) and 500 free (5:17.2), said Free State’s swimmers, who were tied with SME with three events to go, responded well in the final event.

“We’re just really pushing it. We want to commit ourselves to scoring, and we’re really passionate about it,” the sophomore said. “We wanted to win that race and be the (overall) champions. But our team is such a family that it’s not really disappointing to us, because we did so well. This is like the closest we’ve ever been to (SME).”

Campbell’s 500 win followed a first-place sprint from her teammate, sophomore Sydney Sirimongkhon-Dyck, in the 100 free (53.74).

Free State drew even with the four-time defending Class 6A state champs following the ninth final of the day, the 200 free relay. That’s when Sydney, freshman Simone Herlihy, Anderson and Caldwell set a league record by finishing in 1:38.04.

From there, SME had seven total swimmers competing in the 100 back and 100 breast, while Free State had six. The Lancers edged their challengers as SME sophomore Bonnie Longan won the 100 back, and two of her teammates — sophomore Mary Booton and senior Annie Mann — finish second and third in the 100 breast.

Free State had such a strong day because it didn’t just win in swimming events. Junior Haley Johnson scored 349.15 points to win diving to keep the Firebirds in the hunt for the elusive points title.

Now in her third year of diving for FSHS, Johnson didn’t crack the top six at last year’s league championships.

“My main goal was to do better than last year, but also to be able to medal so I could give points to Free State,” she said. “I knew the points were crucial. I just wanted to give it my all, just so I could know that I did the best that I could for the team.”

When the meet concluded and Free State’s 400 relay champs huddled on the podium, Campbell said the Firebirds turned their focus to state, which begins May 23 in Topeka.

“We’re a great team. We had great swims today. Everybody performed to the best of their ability,” Campbell said. “We can do better, though.”

Lawrence finished sixth in team points, with 106, far ahead of seventh-place Shawnee Mission West’s 48.

Lions freshman Mary Reed-Weston placed third in the 200 IM and fifth in the 100 breast, and senior diver Allison Williams took fourth.

“We really had a good first day,” LHS coach Kent McDonald said, referring to Friday’s prelims, “and we finished pretty much where we were seeded.”

Team scores: 1. Shawnee Mission East, 330; 2. Free State, 318; 3. Olathe Northwest, 156.5; 4. Shawnee Mission Northwest, 147; 5. Olathe East, 146.5; 6. Lawrence, 106; 7. Shawnee Mission West, 48; 8. Shawnee Mission North, 41; 9. Olathe South, 34; 10. Shawnee Mission South, 28; 11. Olathe North, 26; 12. Leavenworth, 10.

League champions/city results

(Top 6 = championship; 7-12 = consolation)

200 medley relay — 1. SME, Sarah Allegri, Annie Mann, Bonnie Longan, Madeline Peters, 1:50.38; 2. FS, Lucy Sirimongkhon-Dyck, Kara Krannawitter, Cierra Campbell, Sydney Sirimongkhon-Dyck, 1:53.74; 6. Lawr., Hannah Lee, Mary Reed-Weston, Alex Ginsberg, Nicole Oblon, 2:02.59.

200 free — 1. Campbell, FS, 1:56.7; 3. Eliza Anderson, FS, 1:59.84; 8. Carter Stacey, FS, 2:06.7; 10. Brittany Archer, Lawr., 2:09.47.

200 IM — 1. Karah Brown, O-East, 2:15.85; 3. Reed-Weston, Lawr., 2:17.77; 4. L. Sirimongkhon-Dyck, FS, 2:19.84; 7. Kate McCurdy, FS, 2:21.17; 11. Krannawitter, FS, 2:24.62.

50 free — 1. Courtney Caldwell, FS, 23.6; 2. Sydney Sirimongkhon-Dyck, FS, 24.31; 10. Alexa Malik, FS, 26.3.

1-meter diving — 1. Haley Johnson, FS, 349.15; 4. Allison Williams, Lawr., 313.4; 9. Ashley Ammann, Lawr., 258.9.

100 fly — 1. Caldwell, FS, 56.06 (new league record); 10. Anna McCurdy, FS, 1:05.65.

100 free — 1. S. Sirimongkhon-Dyck, FS, 53.74; 4. Herlihy, FS, 55.74; 7. Malik, FS, 57.28; 10. Oblon, Lawr., 58.78.

500 free — 1. Campbell, FS, 5:17.2; 5. K. McCurdy, FS, 5:36.72; 7. Archer, Lawr., 5:38.81; 12. A. McCurdy, FS, 5:46.55.

200 free relay — 1. FS, S. Sirimongkhon-Dyck, Herlihy, Anderson, Caldwell, 1:38.04 (new league record); 6. Lawr., Lee, Kelly, Archer, Oblon, 1:52.3.

100 back — 1. Bonnie Longan, SME, 58.36; 2. Anderson, FS, 1:00.05; 4. L. Sirimongkhon-Dyck, FS, 1:02.32; 9. Herlihy, FS, 1:05.09.

100 breast — 1. Haily Brull, SMNW, 1:08.48; 4. Krannawitter, FS, 1:11.23; 5. Reed-Weston, Lawr., 1:12.36; 7. Kat LaFever, FS, 1:12.98; 12. Trenna Soderling, FS, 1:16.24.

400 free relay — 1. FS, Campbell, Anderson, L. Sirimongkhon-Dyck, Caldwell, 3:37.85; 5. Lawr., Oblon, Archer, Lee, Reed-Weston, 3:55.55.