Varsity Kansas has introduced a new series, Moment of the Year. The series will highlight the top moment or performance from the 2017-18 high school sports season for each of the Wichita-area schools. And now, the Wichita East Blue Aces.
For the second straight year, East has its state championship, and for the second straight year, the Aces came home with an All-American on the bus.
East won the Kansas Class 6A girls high school swimming and diving title, holding off Free State by 23 points. And just as doubt started to creep into the possibility of a repeat, the Aces put together their best performance of the day.
They trailed in the team standings, sitting tied for third when sophomore standout Astrid Dirkzwager and the 200-yard freestyle relay team took the blocks and kicked out a state record and All-American time of 1 minute, 36.77 seconds. Blue Valley North finished second, almost a second later.
The team was made up of Dirkzwager, junior Gillian Pierce-Butt, freshman Baylor McPherson and Julia Whitfield.
After that victory, East never looked back. Dirkzwager won the next event, the 100 backstroke, joining the 200-yard medley team of junior Katerina Savvides, senior Hannah Balch, Pierce-Butt and McPherson as the third winner.
Balch held her preliminary placement and broke the East record in the 100 breaststroke, finishing third at 1:07.16, which virtually clinched East's second title.
That left the 400 freestyle relay as a victory lap and sending off for East's top seniors, Balch and Whitfield.
The Aces danced before jumping on the blocks, but by the time they got out of the pool, they became emotional recognizing it was their last high school race together. They won it at 3:32.99.
Other top 5 finishes: Dirkzwager, 2nd, 200-yard freestyle, 1:49.98 ... Whitfield, 4th, 50-yard freestyle, 24.28 ... Savvides, 2nd, 100-yard butterfly, 57.22 ... Pierce-Butt, 5th, 100-yard butterfly, 58.88 ... Whitfield, 4th, 100-yard freestyle, 52.65 ... Savvides, 3rd, 100-yard backstroke, 56.80 ...
Other Key Moments
- East wins the girls soccer City League title for the first time since 2004. Aces ties Carroll 1-1 and wins on league points. No Wichita public school had won the league outright since 2003. East makes it to the 6A quarterfinals against top-seeded Manhattan.
- The Aces boys swimming and diving team finishes fourth at the 6A meet. East takes second in the 200-yard medley relay and 400 free relay. Hugh McPherson wins the 100 freestyle and takes third in the 200 individual medley.
- East finishes fourth at the 6A girls bowling meet. Senior Addison Herzberg takes third in the individual competition.
- Senior golfer Shamir Khan wins a share of the City League boys golf individual title at Auburn Hills with a +2, 74. He tied Kapaun's Jack Baker.
- East takes third in the 6A boys 4x100-meter relay at the Kansas high school track and field meet at 42.14 seconds. The Aces were about a half second off a state record time.
- Amira Linson takes fourth in the 6A girls pole vault with an 11-foot vault.
- Jamila Love earns a fifth-place finish in the 6A girls discus. She tossed 115-8.