Varsity Kansas

Kansas City area swim stars steal 6A crown and spotlight at state championship meet

Blue Valley North’s Caroline Blake
Blue Valley North’s Caroline Blake The Wichita Eagle

It’s the Law: Lions reclaim Class 6A state title

Since 2017, Kansas’ top Class 6A girls swim teams have been formulating a way to get Wichita East off the top.

The Blue Aces entered Saturday’s state meet as the two-time defending state champions, but they didn’t leave as three-timers. Lawrence, for the first time since 1994, is champion of Kansas.

The Lions did it with zero wins in 12 events.

Lawrence displayed outstanding depth in 2019 with eight top five finishes, including runner-up placements from and the Lions’ 200-yard freestyle relay team of senior Maddie Dean, junior Marian Frick, sophomore Aubrey Fischer and senior anchor Emily Guo; and the 400-yard freestyle relay team of senior Morgan Jones, senior Jamie Abernathy, sophomore Madi Heckman and Guo.

With so many talented, consistent swimmers, Lawrence outlasted runner-up Shawnee Mission East and the now-former champs Wichita East.

Although it is the Lions’ first title in more than two decades, it marks Lawrence’s seventh girls swim state title.

What an Addi-tion: BV West sophomore named meet’s best

In 2018, Addi Barnes finished no better than third, but Saturday, she became a two-time champion.

The Blue Valley West sophomore won the 200-yard individual medley at 2:04.84 and came back to win the 500 free at 4:58.81. She was named the meet’s Most Outstanding Swimmer.

“I knew there was a lot of great competition, but I just trusted my training,” Barnes said.

Barnes helped Blue Valley West to a fourth-place finish in the team standings with 238 points. She said giving her seniors a top five placement to finish their careers is a rewarding feeling.

“This year, I was just really confident in the work that I had done,” she said. “Our team was really strong this year. We had so many great swimmers. This senior class really means a lot to me. Especially on the relays, we just wanted to go out strong.”

North star: BV North freshman wins Kansas’ fastest race

Caroline Blake was in her first state swim and felt no nerves.

More than that, she won Kansas’ fastest race, the 50-yard freestyle at 23.86 seconds. In a field that had six swimmers go under 25 seconds, Blake was the only to dip under 24, and she was the only freshman.

“It motivates me a lot,” Blake said. “It helps me to work harder, so I can eventually beat that time.”

Blake finished her individual day with a fourth-place finish in the 100 free at 53.00 and helped BV North to two top five finishes in the meet’s final two relay events.

Blake said she tries to zone everything else out while in the pool.

“I don’t think about anybody else around me,” she said. “I only focus on the finish.”

Lightning Lancers come second despite a pair of event titles

Sophomore Lauren McDougald said she was nervous lightning was going to postpone her event.

As rainy weather rolled through Topeka, the 100-yard butterfly began, and McDougald was crowned a state champion 57.72 seconds later. She pulled the lightning into the pool.

“My friend Rachel (Lyle, of BV Northwest) was next to me, and I think that helped me push through the pain on the last 25,” she said. “I was not expecting to win. I had no idea. I looked at my friend, and she told me to look up at the scoreboard.”

McDougald said her title was one of the most amazing feelings she has felt in her swim career.

Shawnee Mission East got off to a blazing start at the 6A meet but finished runner-up to Lawrence. The Lancers won two events, including McDougald’s title in the 100 fly. She said to get on the podium for them was special.

“It’s an amazing feeling to be in the pool, swimming with the people you love,” she said.

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Wichita Eagle preps reporter Hayden Barber brings the area updates on all high school sports while adding those hard-to-find human-interest stories on Wichita’s student-athletes.