Other Varsity Sports

Heights clinches swim title in exhilarating final event; Trinity star sets records

Wichita Heights hoists its third state championship trophy in five years at the 2019 Kansas high school swimming and diving meet in Topeka on Saturday. (Feb. 16, 2019)
Wichita Heights hoists its third state championship trophy in five years at the 2019 Kansas high school swimming and diving meet in Topeka on Saturday. (Feb. 16, 2019) The Wichita Eagle

New Heights

He had been there before but not like this.

Heights coach Dale Heckman couldn’t hold back his emotions after the Falcons had clinched their third state championship in five years. They held off one of the strongest Class 5-1A races in recent history and beat Topeka Seaman by two points, 213-211.

The 2019 state meet came down to the final event on Saturday, the 400-yard freestyle relay. The Falcons needed to get fifth. They got fifth as senior Aidan Gantenbein willed the Falcons into the state championship spot on his final length of the pool.

Heights had five top-three finishes Saturday in Topeka. Heckman said the Falcons needed every point, including the 10 they earned in the diving event.

“We prayed for this,” he said. “We dreamed for this. We worked for this. We didn’t know it could happen. Any of the top four teams could have won it. I had my doubts. Last three or four races, I just didn’t know if we had enough.”

Patton down the records

Trinity Academy high school Ben Patton
Trinity Academy’s Ben Patton Hayden Barber The Wichita Eagle

Trinity Academy swim coach Quinton Patton said he couldn’t be prouder.

Patton coached a Kansas Class 5-1A state champion Saturday, but he also coached his son. He said the video on his phone of his two record-setting swims had to have been full of screaming. Ben Patton broke his own record in the 200-yard individual medley by almost 2 seconds at 1 minute, 46.78 seconds.

The next closest swimmer was almost 12 seconds behind. He said it was a moment that has been brewing through the entire season.

“It’s just doing the right things in practice,” Patton said. “I’ve been chasing that record for a long time.”

Coming into the 2019 state meets, the Class 5-1A record was almost 3 seconds slower than Patton’s time Saturday. He broke the record in prelims Friday. He said that was by design.

Patton wanted to get the record out of the way early before the pressure mounted. He said that allowed himself to swim more freely. Patton said the 200-yard IM is his best event, and it showed. His dad and coach said Ben continues to find ways to shock him.

Patton rounded out his individual performance with another state record in the 100-yard backstroke, a race he came runner-up in last year. He beat the 5-1A record at 48.60 seconds.

“I didn’t know how fast I would go,” Patton said. “I knew I was feeling good, but I was really happy with that for sure.”

Clutch like Hutch

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Hayden Barber The Wichita Eagle

The Wichita East senior rounded up his high school career with three top three finishes at the state meet, including a runner-up spot as part of the 200-yard medley relay team. It was his last day with his dad, Joe, as his coach.

Sam said he wasn’t so sad the run was over, more happy he had the chance. He finished his final race as part of the 400-yard freestyle relay that set the school record at 3:12.11 and a third-place finish.

“I’m really reflective and appreciative of the team atmosphere,” he said. “We had more supporters than we had qualfiers for state. I couldn’t be happier with how it ended.”

The Blue Aces finished sixth in Class 6A, their third straight top six spot at the state meet. Joe said his son has played a big part in the success his team has seen through the years.

“It’s very bittersweet,” he said. “He has surpassed not only my own athletic abilities but my own expectations. I knew that he was talented, but to go from where he was to where he is, is really, really special. To have your name up on the record boards at East means something.”

Ringing the Bell

Wichita East high school swimming drayden Bell
Wichita East’s Drayden Bell Hayden Barber The Wichita Eagle

In the first race championship of the day, East freshman Drayden Bell hit the wall .05 seconds too late.

The Blue Aces’ 200-yard medley relay came runner-up to Olathe East in the finish of the day in Class 6A in part potentially of a technical failure as the clocks stopped. Bell was the anchor and said losing the race served as motivation.

A few minutes later, Bell crushed his 50-yard freestyle at 20.73 seconds. It was his first finish in under 21 seconds.

“After that relay, just barely being out-touched, that lit a fire in me,” he said. “I had to process it for a little bit. Once it hit me that I won it, I just went haywire.”

Bell had four top three finishes in his first state meet. He said he was nervous during the preliminaries but cut it loose for the finals. That helped him to be named to the Class 6A first team.

Results - Class 6A

To see the full results, click here.

Event 1: 200-Yard Medley Relay

1. Olathe East (Aidan Walters, Phillip Costello, Micah Leslie, Jack Gabrielson), 1:35.93

2. Wichita East (Sam Hutchinson, Jason Ooten, Earl Hwang, Drayden Bell), 1:35.98

3. Free State (Jake Viscomi, Riley Sirimongkhon-Dyck, Reilley Moore, Benjamin Vorthmann) 1:36.25

Event 2: 200-Yard Freestyle

1. Jonah Park - Blue Valley West, 1:41.25

2. Logan McGonigle - Blue Valley North, 1:43.08

3. Richie Stewart - Blue Valley North, 1:44.94

Event 3: 200-Yard Individual Medley

1. Kevin Glenn - Blue Valley West, 1:54.41

2. Christopher Sprenger - Mill Valley, 1:55.36

3. Sam Bruck - Shawnee Mission East, 1:58.20

Event 4: 50-Yard Freestyle

1. Drayden Bell - Wichita East, 20.73

2. Benjamin Vorthmann - Free State, 21.07

3. Marshall Wietharn - Blue Valley North, 21.10

Event 5: Diving

1. Will Frankel - Shawnee Mission West, 499.10

2. Zane Kohl - Manhattan, 444.95

3. Christian Tafoya - Derby, 436.40

Event 6: 100-Yard Butterfly

1. Reilley Moore - Free State, 50.18

2. Trey Smith - Shawnee Mission North, 51.89

3. Marshall Wietharn - Blue Valley North, 52.02

Event 7: 100-Yard Freestyle

1. Benjamin Vorthmann - Free State, 46.00

2. Drayden Bell - Wichita East, 46.46

3. Sean North - Blue Valley North, 47.00

Event 8: 500-Yard Freestyle

1. Jonah Park - Blue Valley West, 4:37.70

2. Sam Foster - Blue Valley West, 4:45.42

3. Alec Labeda - Wichita Southeast, 4:47.89

Event 9: 200-Yard Freestyle Relay

1. Blue Valley North (Sean North, Marshall Wietharn, Logan McMonigle, Richie Stewart), 1:24.57 (State record)

2. Olathe East (Phillip Costello, Micah Leslie, Aidan Walters, Jack Gabrielson), 1:27.94

3. Blue Valley West (Trevor Baier, Dylan Logsdon, Jonah Park, Trevor Sinclair), 1:29.20

Event 10: 100-Yard Backstroke

1. Kevin Glenn - Blue Valley West, 50.14 (State record)

2. Isaac Hadorn - Wichita North, 52.72

3. Sam Hutchinson - Wichita East, 53.22

Event 11: 100-Yard Breaststroke

1. Phillip Costello - Olathe East, 57.80

2. Christopher Sprenger - Mill Valley, 58.78

3. Chase Lane - Blue Valley West, 1:00.01

Event 12: 400-Yard Freestyle Relay

1. Blue Valley North (Logan McGonigle, Sean North, Sam Peterson, Richie Stewart), 3:10.71

2. Free State (Benjamin Vorthmann, Brady Flynn, Chad Anderson, Reilley Moore), 3:11.62

3. Wichita East (Drayden Bell, Sam Hutchinson, Earl Hwang, Jason Ooten), 3:12.11

Results - Class 5-1A

To see the full results, click here.

Event 1: 200-Yard Medley Relay

1. Bishop Miege (Max Hernandez-Nietling, Lex Hernandez-Nietling, Kevin Hannon, Kyle Eskew), 1:35.32

2. Topeka Seaman (Cameron Stanley, Noah Florence, James Sadler, Devin Appelhanz), 1:38.17

3. Wichita Heights (Aidan Gantenbein, Carson Hager, Noah Thompson, Austin Russell), 1:38.28

Event 2: 200-Yard Freestyle

1. Joshua Florence - Topeka Seaman, 1:43.91

2. Hunter Rey - Maize South, 1:44.17

3. George Jokov - Independent, 1:46.00

Event 3: 200-Yard Individual Medley

1. Ben Patton - Trinity Academy, 1:46.78 (State record)

2. Cameron Stanley - Topeka Seaman, 1:58.48

3. Matthew Janssen - Independent, 2:03.56

Event 4: 50-Yard Freestyle

1. Max Hernandez-Nietling - Bishop Miege, 20.84

2. Andrew Kutney - St. Thomas Aquinas, 21.18

3. Aidan Scott - Independent, 21.36

Event 5: Diving

1. Reed Slayden - Emporia, 433.55

2. Keetan Munsell - Salina South, 401.00

3. Kolby Adams - Wichita Heights, 390.20

Event 6: 100-Yard Butterfly

1. Max Hernandez-Nietling - Bishop Miege, 48.91

2. Harry Tjaden - St. James Academy, 50.56

3. Andrew Kutney - St. Thomas Aquinas, 51.82

Event 7: 100-Yard Freestyle

1. Lex Hernandez-Nietling - Bishop Miege, 45.12 (State record)

2. William Powers - McPherson, 46.80

3. Aidan Gantenbein - Wichita Heights, 47.77

Event 8: 500-Yard Freestyle

1. Harry Tjaden - St. James Academy, 4:39.53

2. Joshua Florence - Topeka Seaman, 4:49.33

3. Justus Hampton - McPherson, 4:54.00

Event 9: 200-Yard Freestyle Relay

1. McPherson (William Powers, Dawson VanGoethem, Silas Steinert, Justus Hampton), 1:27.83

2. Independent (Edward Sturm, Daniel Jekov, George Jekov, Aidan Scott), 1:28.97

3. Wichita Heights (Carson Hager, Austin Russell, Noah Thompson, Ethan Jensen), 1:29.32

Event 10: 100-Yard Backstroke

1. Ben Patton - Trinity Academy, 48.60 (State record)

2. Aidan Gantenbein - Wichita Heights, 52.04

3. Cameron Stanley - Topeka Seaman, 52.75

Event 11: 100-Yard Breaststroke

1. Lex Hernandez-Nietling - Bishop Miege, 56.08

2. John Amrein - St. James Academy, 57.08

3. Nathan Chan - Wichita Classical, 59.29

Event 12: 400-Yard Freestyle Relay

1. Bishop Miege (Max Hernandez-Nietling, Kevin Hannon, Henry Taylor, Lex Hernandez-Nietling), 3:12.38

2. McPherson (Justus Hampton, Dawson VanGoethem, Silas Steinert, William Powers), 3:15.49

3. Topeka Seaman (Devin Appelhanz, Cameron Stanley, Noah Florence, Joshua Florence), 3:15.52

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.

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