Seniors lead Free State swim and dive to victory at home meet
Right before the 100-yard butterfly, Free State swim and dive took a moment to recognize its seven senior athletes.
“A lot of us, even though we don’t see each other a lot in school, we’re tight-knit and we love this sport,” senior Nick Burket said. “I think we as a group — this is probably more rag-tag than what you’re going to get from next year’s group of seniors. But definitely it was a special moment.”
Free State won all 12 events at Thursday’s home meet, easily winning with 652 points over Washburn Rural, Bonner Springs, Turner and Sumner.
Burket thought the team did well as a whole, but said he still has areas to improve in to finish his senior season strong.
“There’s never not a place for improvement and I always strive to push myself to get to a better position than I was at the meet before,” Burket said. “So I’m always pushing myself at practice and trying to put the work in so it can (show) later.”
Finishing strong is a key element for this senior group — Niels Braaten, Dylan Crawford, Tanner Erwin, Maksim Smith, Gabe Thompson, Morgan Uecker and Burket — who are well respected by their teammates.
“I just love my seniors,” junior Riley Sirimongkhon-Dyck said. “They’re so supportive. Many times I’ve seen them at the wall cheering like, ‘Let’s go!’ and giving a good example and being really nice to each other.”
That comes from the team chemistry that’s been built at various team dinners and in and out of practice. This especially applies to those in the top lanes, as Burket said the bond is strong and “everybody is here for a reason.”
“We love this sport and we love hanging out with each other,” Burket said. “Definitely there is a chemistry there and it’s just one of those things where you’re like, ‘These are my people.’ You’re just like, ‘I love these people and I’d die for these people.'”
It’s been quite a journey for Burket in particular, who is the only four-year member of the team. He first learned to dive and flip turn thanks to a friend on the team his freshman year, and became hooked. And once he joined the team, he’s advanced at a fast-pace, moving from lanes 7 and 8 his freshman year all the way to lane 3 this year.
“It kind of is (different) because you’re sitting there and you’re seeing the team kind of evolve,” Burket said. “It’s kind of a shock to be like, ‘Wow this is your last year here and look how far you’ve come.'”
Thursday’s meet was big stepping stone for the entire Free State team, especially Sirimongkhon-Dyck and Burket. Sirimongkhon-Dyck won the 500-yard freestyle, 100-yard breastroke and swam on both the 200-yard medley and 200-yard freestyle relay teams.
“It was pretty rewarding because I didn’t think I’d do as well as I did in the relay, but I think I did really well,” Sirimongkhon-Dyck said. “And the breaststroke went way better than I thought it would.”
Burket finished third in the 200 freestyle, fourth in the 500-yard freestyle and swam on the 200-yard medley (8th) and 200-yard freestyle relay (6th) teams.
As the season winds down and the Firebirds continue to improve and make state qualifying times, the team will also continue to shrink. Burket said this meet will be a huge confidence booster for those already with state qualifying times and those looking to reach those heights.
“It really does help some of us because if we drop time, we know we can keep working on it some more,” Burket said. “There’s also a lot of work to be done for those who didn’t drop time or put on some time. This is a ‘let’s do it’ moment.”
Free State will next compete at a triangular at Blue Valley Southwest on Tuesday.
200-yard medley relay: 1. (Alexander Moore, Riley Sirimongkhon-Dyck, Reilley Moore, Matthew Reimer) 1:46.55; 3. (Finn VanDyke, Viet Nguyen, Jacob Heinz, Morgan Uecker) 1:57.73; 4. (Max Bates, Gabe Thompson, John Kelley, Tanner Erwin) 2:02.07; 8. (Gabriel Oliveira, Owen Polson, Nick Burket, Dylan Crawford) 2:14.19.
200 freestyle: 1. Benjamin Vorthmann, 1:52.52; 2. Gabe Clark, 2:21.12; 3. Nick Burket, 2:22.02; 4. Niels Braaten, 2:22.58.
200 IM: 1. Reilley Moore, 2:05.56; 3. Max Bates, 2:27.61; 5. Viet Nguyen, 2:30.84.
50 freestyle: 1. Brady Flynn, 23.08; 3. Matthew Reimer, 24.99; 7. Morgan Uecker, 27.08; 11. Owen Polson, 28.19; 12. Tanner Erwin, 28.24; 13. Dylan Crawford, 28.48; 14. Aaron Guo, 29.23; 15. Drake Ward, 30.03; 16. Gabe Thompson, 30.38; 22. Jackson Waggoner, 31.69; 26. Colton Grassy, 32.64; 31. David Wiseman, 33.89; 36. Aidan Hanna, 35.21; 38. Gabriel Oliveira, 36.17.
Diving: 1. Michael Leonard, 198.23; 3. Jack Keathley-Helms, 125.78.
100 butterfly: 1. Reilley Moore, 52.63; 5. Jacob Heinz, 1:01.04; 6. Matthew Reimer, 1:01.75; 7. John Kelley, 1:05.83.
100 freestyle: 1. Finn VanDyke, 50.91; 2. Alexander Moore, 54.86; 3. Gabe Clark, 1:02.09; 4. Niels Braaten, 1:02.87; 10. Tanner Erwin, 1:05.81; 17. Colton Grassy, 1:14.22; 21. David Wiseman, 1:16.68; 23. Aidan Hanna, 1:17.74.
500 freestyle: 1. Riley Sirimongkhon-Dyck, 5:12.90; 3. Jacob Heinz, 5:47.08; 4. Nick Burket, 6:30.42; 5. Morgan Uecker, 6:53.39.
200 freestyle relay: 1. (Benjamin Vorthmann, Reilley Moore, Brady Flynn, Riley Sirimongkhon-Dyck) 1:32.26; 3. (Matthew Reimer, John Kelley, Viet Nguyen, Gabe Clark) 1:46.21; 6. (Tanner Erwin, Niels Braaten, Dylan Crawford, Nick Burket) 1:54.49; 7. (Drake Ward, Jackson Waggoner, Colton Grassy, Owen Polson) 1:59.37; 12. (Gabriel Oliveira, David Wiseman, Aidan Hanna, Jack Keathley-Helms) 2:13.12.
100 backstroke: 1. Benjamin Vorthmann, 57.97; 2. Max Bates, 1:02.64; 3. Finn VanDyke, 1:02.65; 4. Alexander Moore, 1:02.95; 10. Gabriel Oliveira, 1:29.63.
100 breaststroke: 1. Riley Sirimongkhon-Dyck, 1:06.81; 3. Viet Nguyen, 1:15.28; 6. Gabe Thompson, 1:19.79; 7. Owen Polson, 1:21.39; 13. Drake Ward, 1:42.88.
400 freestyle relay: 1. (Alexander Moore, Finn VanDyke, Max Bates, Benjamin Vorthmann) 3:42.82; 3. (Jacob Heinz, Morgan Uecker, Gabe Clark, Niels Braaten) 4:09.72; 6. (Jackson Waggoner, Aidan Hanna, David Wiseman, Dylan Crawford) 5:06.35.