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Taylor Eldridge blog: State swimming preview

Published Feb. 15 at 7:48 p.m. | Last updated Feb. 15 at 5:25 p.m.


200 medley relay—Depending on which four swimmers coach Joe Hutchinson puts on this relay, East could have a shot at a state title here. East’s season-best time of 1:38.67 only trails Lawrence Free State (1:36.58) as the fastest in 6A. There probably isn’t another medal contender from the area, although North (1:49.45), Northwest (1:50.74), Hutchinson (1:52.55), Campus (1:52.63), and Southeast (1:54.17) all qualified their relays.

200 freestyle—Southeast’s Alec Lebeda (1:48.55) represents the best shot from the area to medal, as he comes in with the ninth-fastest time but is not far off the top times. East’s Colin Hutton (1:50.60) also will have a chance to medal.

200 individual medley—East’s Hugh McPherson (1:57.70) will be the top challenger to Lawrence Free State’s Evan Yoder (1:54.81) for the title, as those two have a chance to push each other to a crazy-fast time at state. Any of East’s trio of Matthew Randle (2:04.52), Earl Hwang (2:05.93), and Jack Quah (2:06.93) and North’s Isaac Hadorn (2:06.37) could sneak into medal territory with good swims. Hutchinson’s Tracy Geddes (2:12.51) also qualified.

50 freestyle—West’s David Garcia (22.52) could challenge for a medal if he lowers his season-best, as he is the area’s top in this event. East’s Aaron Eshelman (23.75) and Northwest’s Duncan Haase (23.81) also qualified.

Diving—Derby qualified four in Adam Huber, Christian Tafoya, Xavier Wright, and Evan Boslaugh, while East has three in Jadyn Hinson, Will Clayton, and C.J. Bell. North has two medal contenders in Miguel Bernal and Taylor Thompson, while Campus qualified Jake Burke and South is sending Franklin Campos.

100 butterfly—East’s Earl Hwang (56.49) has the 14th-fastest time coming in, but should be in medal contention with a good swim. Campus’ Max Shetler (59.26) and Derby’s Brett Voth (59.54) also qualified.

100 freestyle—West’s David Garcia (50.19) and East’s pair of Colin Hutton (50.43) and Sam Hutchinson (50.58) will all be in contention for medal territory if they swim well.

500 freestyle—Southeast’s Alec Lebeda (4:47.16) enters with the second-fastest time in the field behind only Lawrence’s Stephen Johnson (4:44.93). Lebeda hasn’t been pushed yet though, so it will be interesting to see if a state field can push him as he looks to have a very real shot at a state title. East’s Jason Ooten (5:03.60) will need to swim well to secure a medal, while teammate Irfan Ansari (5:27.78) also qualified.

200 freestyle relay—East (1:32.07) enters with the fifth-fastest timee in the field and is just two seconds off the No. 3 time. A high medal looks obtainable if East brings it. Northwest (1:36.38) has an outside shot at a medal, while Hutchinson (1:38.30), West (1:38.39), Campus (1:38.61), North (1:39.18), Derby (1:40.85), and South (1:41.13) all qualified their relays as well.

100 backstroke—The City League should be well-represented on the medal stand, as East’s Sam Hutchinson (54.41) should be in the mix for a high medal and North’s Isaac Hadorn (56.01) and East’s Matthew Randle (56.17) each have great chances as well as medal territory. East’s Irfan Ansari (1:01.47) also qualified in the event.

100 breaststroke—East decided to stack the field in this event, as Jack Quah (1:01.06) and Hugh McPherson (1:02.07) will both be looking for a high medal. Teammate Jason Ooten (1:03.23) could give the Blue Aces three on the medal stand, as well.

400 freestyle relay—East (3:19.41) has the fourth-fastest time in the field entering, so it should be in the medals. Northwest (3:35.35), Hutchinson (3:37.80), Derby (3:42.27), North (3:44.78), West (3:46.91), and Campus (3:50.65) also qualified.

Team race—It doesn’t look like anyone has the firepower to catch SM East or BV North for the top two teams, but that third slot is open for potentially East to sneak up there. The Blue Aces will likely be in contention with Lawrence Free State for that spot, so keep an eye on that as the state meet progresses. No other program from the area has a very high chance at cracking the Top 10 at state.


200 medley relay—Heights (1:38.46) enters with the fastest time by almost a complete four seconds over the field, so even if it doesn’t enter its ‘A’ team the Falcons are still going to be favorites to repeat in this event. But watch out for Trinity Academy, which has the second-fastest time at 1:42.38 and has two major studs in Ben Patton and Colton Smith. Maize (1:44.12) will also be in the mix for a high medal, as will McPherson (1:44.37) and Andover Central (1:45.36). Other qualifiers are Winfield (1:47.96), Newton (1:48.17), Kapaun Mt. Carmel (1:48.37), Maize South (1:49.44), Bishop Carroll (1:52.24), Rose Hill (1:52.69), Collegiate (1:53.47), Andover (1:57.33), and El Dorado (1:58.84).

200 freestyle—Andover Central’s Spencer Krueger (1:47.93) and Trinity’s Colton Smith (1:48.51) enter with the third and fourth-fastest time in the field and both will be title contenders. Carroll’s Alec Clark (1:50.11), Andover Central’s Carson Denault (1:53.61), Maize South’s Brodie Gullic (1:54.00), and Maize’s Jacob Ruder (1:54.73) will also be in the medal mix. Other qualifiers are Andover Central’s Nicolas Krueger (1:55.69), Rose Hill’s Gabriel Ozanne (1:55.85), Andover Central’s Raddek Thomas (1:56.53), McPherson’s Gavin Soukup (1:58.21), Carroll’s Matthew Harding (1:59.64), Maize’s Britton Beggs (2:00.70), and Carroll’s Wyatt Iseman (2:05.51).

200 individual medley—Trinity’s Ben Patton (2:00.99) enters with the third-fastest time in the field, but it’s a safe bet he’ll challenge Bonner Springs’ Ryan Downing (1:57.29) and Leavenworth’s Brayden Love (1:57.91) to defend his title after going 1:54.24 in the finals as a freshman last year. Others in medal contention will be Maize’s Christian Taylor (2:04.33), Winfield’s Cameron Roark (2:06.85), and Carroll’s Rory Smith (2:08.03). Other qualifiers are Andover Central’s Charles Hsu (2:09.04), Maize’s Ryan Kuhl (2:10.79), Andover Central’s Cole Stinson (2:11.28), Kapaun’s John Klimiuk (2:14.11), Newton’s Shaedon Wedel (2:16.31), McPherson’s Silas Steinert (2:16.61), Maize’s Kyle Stutzman (2:17.07), Trinity’s Dylan Davis (2:17.31), Kapaun’s Sean Barleen (2:18.07), Carroll’s Ethan Khoury (2:19.18), Maize’s Nolan Palmer (2:20.13), and Maize South’s Dominick Decker (2:20.79).

50 freestyle—Heights’ Dylan Jensen (21.81) is the only swimmer in the field to have cracked the 22-second barrier, so he’ll be the favorite to win the title here. Teammate Ethan Conrady (22.40) comes in with the fourth-fastest time, while McPherson’s Eric Gaeddert (23.00) and Winfield’s Corbin Hollingsworth (23.06) should be in the medal mix. Other qualifiers are Winfield’s Kabin Bunch (23.24), Maize’s Bryce Nelson (23.44), McPherson’s Dawson Van Goethem (23.48), Carroll’s Brock Lubbers (23.57), Maize South’s T.C. Poynter (23.66), Maize’s Colton Lumpkins (23.95), Andover Central’s Zachary Huber (24.06), and El Dorado’s Ridge Towner (24.14).

Diving—Only a total of 10 divers qualified for this field with Heights’ duo of Zac McQuiston and Kolby Adams and Carroll’s Logan Carter all have a great shot at a medal.

100 butterfly—Heights’ Aidan Gantenbein (53.09) made a huge cut to win City League and he’ll have to make another one to challenge for the title, as Leavenworth’s Brayden Love (51.89) enters with the fastest time. Trinity’s Colton Smith should be in the medal mix, as well. Other qualifiers include Independent’s Aidan Scott (56.88), Carroll’s Brock Lubbers (56.99), Andover Central’s Raddek Thomas (57.13), Newton’s Ethan Torres (57.26), Maize South’s Jake Onderek (57.80), Andover Central’s Nicolas Krueger (58.32), Kapaun’s Elliott Merck (58.42), Rose Hill’s Gabriel Ozanne (58.52), Independent’s Edward Sturm (58.78), Maize’s Kyle Stutzman (59.30), McPherson’s Gavin Soukup (1:00.22), McPherson’s Carson Stone (1:00.58), Newton’s Ryan Hirsh (1:00.60), Trinity’s Dylan Davis (1:00.66), and Andover’s Cole Wagner (1:01.18).

100 freestyle—Heights’ Dylan Jensen (48.77) enters with the second-fastest time in the field and should give Miege’s Lex Hernandez-Nietling (47.39) a strong push for the title. Teammate Ethan Conrady (48.94), Andover Central’s Spencer Krueger (49.06), Carroll’s Alec Clark (49.48), McPherson’s Eric Gaeddert (50.33), Winfield’s Corbin Hollingsworth (50.63), Maize’s Jacob Ruder (51.19), and Bryce Nelson (51.81) will all be in the mix for medals. Other state qualifiers are Independent’s Aidan Scott (51.94), McPherson’s Dawson Van Goethem (52.37), Collegiate’s John Powell (52.83), Maize’s Ryce Olson (53.06), Maize South’s T.C. Poynter (53.09), Maize’s Colton Lumpkins (53.25), Winfield’s Kabin Bunch (53.52), and Heights’ Carson Hager (53.59).

500 freestyle—Rose Hill’s Noah Baden (4:52.74) is the defending champion in the event, but he’ll have to make a huge cut to hold off Topeka Seaman’s Zeke Metz (4:44.37) for the title. Andover Central’s Carson Denault (5:06.89), Maize South’s Brodie Gullic (5:07.30), Winfield’s Cameron Roark (5:08.98), Heights’ Kamren Hall (5:09.94), and McPherson’s Will Powers (5:11.22) will all be in the medal range. Other qualifiers are Maize’s Britton Beggs (5:30.71), McPherson’s Rece Reiman (5:32.13), Maize’s Nolan Palmer (5:35.6), Maize’s Logan Patterson (5:36.04), Carroll’s Matthew Harding (5:38.98), and Carroll’s Wyatt Iseman (5:42.85).

200 freestyle relay—Heights has won this event two years in a row and this year it enters with the fastest time in the field once again at 1:28.32, which is almost four seconds faster than anyone else in the field and is a full second faster than the state record pace they set in their 2015 victory at 1:29.58. Maize (1:33.51) has a chance to challenge for a high medal, while McPherson (1:34.91) and Carroll (1:35.94) both have shots at medals. Other qualifiers are Winfield (1:36.06), Andover Central (1:37.16), Newton (1:37.31), Maize South’s (1:37.78), Trinity (1:38.18), Kapaun (1:38.97), Collegiate (1:39.27), and El Dorado (1:39.33).

100 backstroke—Trinity’s Ben Patton was dominant in winning this event last year as a freshman and he once again enters this season with the fastest time in the field at 52.88. He might challenge for the state record time of 50.28, so keep an eye on that. Heights’ Aidan Gantenbein (53.78) enters with the second-fastest time in the field and should be Patton’s biggest challenger. McPherson’s Will Powers (56.80), Maize’s Ryan Kuhl (57.63), and Newton’s Ethan Torres (57.97) should also be in the mix for a medal. Other qualifiers are Kapaun’s Elliott Merck (1:00.57), Andover Central’s Zachary Huber (1:00.74), Collegiate’s John Powell (1:01.24), McPherson’s Rece Reiman (1:02.04), McPherson’s Silas Steinert (1:02.09), Independent’s Edward Sturm (1:02.24), Maize South’s Jake Onderek (1:02.74), Kapaun’s Sean Barleen (1:02.93), Heights’ Drew Knotts (1:05.02), Maize’s Gabe Ruder (1:05.56), Andover’s Will Vetter (1:05.92), and Heights’ Thomas Nguyen (1:06.08).

100 breaststroke—Rose Hill’s Noah Baden (1:02.19) is the defending champion in the event, but he enters with just the fifth-fastest time in the field with Bonner Springs’ Ryan Downing (58.74) and Miege’s Lex Hernandez-Nietling (58.81) looking like the two favorites. Carroll’s Rory Smith (1:01.96), Maize’s Christian Taylor (1:02.57), and Heights’ Noah Thompson (1:03.55) all have a chance at earning a high medal, as well. Others in medal range are Kapaun’s John Klimiuk (1:04.40), Andover Central’s Charles Hsu (1:05.90), Heights’ Carson Hager (1:06.36), Maize’s Ryce Olson (1:06.51), and Shaedon Wedel (1:06.79). Other qualifiers include McPherson’s Jori Van Goethem (1:08.82), Newton’s Ryan Hirsh (1:09.26), Andover Central’s Cole Stinson (1:09.29), Maize’s Gabriel Ruder (1:09.39), Newton’s Conner Ekerberg (1:09.78), Kapaun’s Joseph Higgins (1:10.10), and Maize South’s Dominick Decker (1:11.84).

400 freestyle relay—Maize (3:24.47) was able to edge Heights (3:22.01) in the finals last year, but Heights enters with the fastest time in the field this year. Andover Central (3:26.40), McPherson (3:26.81) should also be in the mix for a high medal as well. Other qualifiers are Carroll (3:31.91), Winfield (3:33.38), Maize South (3:34.72), Newton (3:36.57), Collegiate (3:43.52), Kapaun (3:45.78), Rose Hill (3:46.30), Andover (3:51.14), and El Dorado (3:55.43).

Team race—It’s looking like Heights will enter as the favorite to win the title and after losing last year by a half-point to Maize, the Falcons will be motivated to get this done. There are a host of challengers who could push Heights, as Maize, Topeka Seaman, and Leavenworth would probably be the top three challengers. But also watch out for KC Turner, Bishop Miege, St. James, Andover Central, McPherson, and Trinity to be able to contend for a team trophy.

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