Firebirds charge late, take second at Sunflower League girls swimming

photo by: John Young

Free State High senior Cierra Campbell competes in the 200 yard freestyle during the girls' Sunflower League Championships Saturday afternoon in Olathe.

Olathe — Free State High’s girls swimmers knew entering the Sunflower League Championship the odds were against them keeping pace with perennial power Shawnee Mission East. The Lancers, who had won five consecutive Class 6A state titles before the Firebirds broke their run in 2015, once again had the numbers to cruise past the competition in team points.

But defending 6A champion FSHS didn’t have second place sealed up by any means. Following the 100 fly Saturday at Prairie Trail Middle School, Olathe Northwest and Free State were tied in the battle to become East’s runner-up.

Consequently, Firebirds coach Annette McDonald had a simple message for the final half of the meet: “OK, girls, if you want this, you’re gonna have to race for it.”

In the events that followed, senior Sydney Sirimongkhon-Dyck (100 free), senior Cierra Campbell (500 free) and Free State’s 200 free relay team swam to second-place finishes, and sophomore Ava Cormaney captured third in the 100 breast. FSHS finished the league championship 108 points behind SME, but a comfortable 35 ahead of ONW. Lawrence finished fourth in the team standings.

“They were ready,” McDonald said, adding the team’s leaders facilitated a pressure-free, yet competitive, approach for the response to the Ravens’ challenge. “They were stepping up and swimming their best.”

Sirimongkhon-Dyck, whose first-place time of 23.78 seconds in the 50 free final beat out a pair of ONW swimmers, gave Free State its only individual league title.

“It’s really exhausting, of course, just because you have to put everything you have into that short amount of time — because you know it’s gonna be over in less than 30 seconds,” the senior said of the sprint. “I’m just as tired after the 50 as I am in the 100 or any other race.”

Campbell, who also finished second in the 200 free, said all the Firebirds showed improvement.

“It’s really exciting to see everyone getting closer and closer to their goals,” Campbell said. “And I think by state the energy’s gonna be high and everybody’s gonna go above and beyond.”

The Lions experienced similar individual progress at the league meet, where freshman Emily Guo won a league title in the 200 IM, finishing in 2:11.48 — more than a second and a half ahead of runner-up Emma Linscott, of SME.

“I looked at the times,” Guo said of her individual expectations entering the weekend, “but I try not to let it affect how I’m gonna swim. I just go out and try my hardest.”

Once the 200 IM started, the freshman proved more than capable of the challenge.

“I think being at finals, where they announce you and having a bunch of people cheering you on, that helps,” said Guo, who also finished second in the 100 breast, marking the first time this season she didn’t take first in the event. “And also, for me, when I dive in I just get some adrenaline.”

LHS coach Kent McDonald wasn’t sure how his young team would respond at Saturday’s finals when the morning began with a sixth-place finish in the 200 medley relay.

“It looked bad, and sometimes the second day they can’t do it,” Lawrence’s coach said of competing again the morning following league prelims. “But they ended up dropping time again (in other events) and holding their places or improving in almost everything.”

Lions freshman Morgan Jones set personal records while earning third place in both the 200 free (1:58.58) and 500 free (5:12.15).

“I think it was just a rough first race of the day,” Jones said, looking back at a disappointing opening relay. “We were all warmed up for other races, so it went good.”

Added Guo: “I tried to use it as motivation to get me fired up for the next races. But I think if you put it behind you you’ll be fine.”

Sunflower League Girls Swimming Championship

Saturday at Prairie Trail Middle School, Olathe

Team scores: 1. Shawnee Mission East, 351; 2. Free State High, 243; 3. Olathe Northwest, 208; 4. Lawrence, 136; 5. Olathe East, 126; 6. Shawnee Mission Northwest, 98; 7. Shawnee Mission North, 65; tie-8. Shawnee Mission South, 55; tie-8. Shawnee Mission West, 55; 10. Olathe South, 27; 11. Olathe North, 25; 12. Leavenworth, 6.

League champions and city results

200 medley relay — 1. SME, 1:48.74; 2. FSHS, 1:52.49; 6. LHS, 1:57.53.

200 free — 1. Crissie Bloomquist, SME, 1:53.2; 2. Cierra Campbell, FSHS, 1:54.42; 3. Morgan Jones, LHS, 1:58.58; 7. Janet Stefanov, FSHS, 2:03.75; 8. Carter Stacey, FSHS, 2:06.42.

200 IM — 1. Emily Guo, LHS, 2:11.48; 4. Anna McCurdy, FSHS, 2:17.89; 7. Lydia Zicker, FSHS, 2:20.97; 8. Mary Reed-Weston, LHS, 2:21.29; 9. Charlotte Crandall, FSHS, 2:21.42; 18. Richa Joshi, FSHS, 2:40.16.

50 free — 1. Sydney Sirimongkhon-Dyck, FSHS, 23.78; 8. Piper Rogers, FSHS, 26.03; 10. Simone Herlihy, FSHS, 26.22; 18. Jamie Abernathy, LHS, 27.14.

1-meter diving — 1. Jessie D. Payne, ONW, 399.15; 5. Ashley Ammann, LHS, 327.4; 8. Alexis Luinstra, FSHS, 316.8; 9. Eden Kingery, LHS, 314.85; 12. Avery Beaty, FSHS, 281.8.

100 fly — 1. Hailey Brull, SMNW, 57.63; 6. Piper Rogers, FSHS, 1:02.26; 10. Lydia Zicker, FSHS, 1:04.14; 15. Nora Agah, FSHS, 1:08.05.

100 free — 1. Joely Merriman, SMN, 53.21; 2. Sydney Sirimongkhon-Dyck, FSHS, 53.7; 9. Simone Herlihy, FSHS, 57.52; 13. Maddie Dean, LHS, 57.73; 14. Jamie Abernathy, LHS, 58.52.

500 free — 1. Crissie Bloomquist, SME, 5:01.889; 2. Cierra Campbell, FSHS, 5:08.25; 3. Morgan Jones, LHS, 5:12.15; 6. Ava Cormaney, FSHS, 5:23.53; 7. Anna McCurdy, FSHS, 5:34.22; 10. Carter Stacey, FSHS, 5:53.6; 11. Jillian Wilson, LHS, 5:57.42.

200 free relay — 1. SME, 1:39.12; 2. FSHS, 1:40.2; 8. LHS, 1:49.17.

100 back — 1. Sarah Allegri, SME, 58.36; 7. Janet Stefanov, FSHS, 1:01.72; 9. Maddie Dean, LHS, 1:03.98; 13. Valentina Rivera Rodriguez, FSHS, 1:05.6; 14. Charlotte Crandall, FSHS, 1:05.72; 17. Hailei Detwiler, FSHS, 1:07.46.

100 breast — 1. Hailey Brull, SMNW, 1:08.39; 2. Emily Guo, LHS, 1:09.19; 3. Ava Cormaney, FSHS, 1:09.47; 5. Mary Reed-Weston, LHS, 1:12.69; 6. Kara Krannawitter, FSHS, 1:13.27; 12. Courtney Cruickshank, FSHS, 1:19.39; 14. Trenna Soderling, FSHS, 1:18.41.

400 free relay — 1. SME, 3:38.56; 3. FSHS, 3:45.08; 5. LHS, 3:51.39.