2019 Kansas 5-1A Boy’s State Swimming & Diving Championships
- February 14th, 15th, & 16th
- Capitol Federal Natatorium, Topeka, KS
Wichita Heights picked up its third Kansas 5-1A Boy’s State Swimming & Diving title Saturday, February 16th, at the Capitol Federal Natatorium in Topeka, KS. Also the team champions in 2015 and 2017, Wichita Heights did not win a single event Saturday, relying on its depth for the victory instead.
Wichita Trinity Academy’s Ben Patton, who has committed to swimming at Mizzou in the fall, stole the show Saturday with his incredible performances in the 200 IM and 100 backstroke. First, in the IM, Patton blew away the field with an incredible 1:46.78, nearly 12 seconds ahead of the runner-up, Cameron Stanley from Topeka Seaman High School, who touched in 1:58.48. Patton’s swim erased the 12-year-old 5-1A State Record of 1:49.50, swum by Newton High School’s David Winter in 2007. Together, Patton and Stanley were the only swimmers to break 2-minutes in the race.
Later, in the 100 backstroke, Patton threw down a quick 48.60 to obliterate David Winter‘s 2006 State Record of 50.28. Aidan Gantenbein of Wichita Heights placed 2nd in 52.04, the highest finish of any swimmer from the 2019 team champions. Gantenbein also picked up bronze in the 100 freestyle with a 47.77, exactly equaling his time from the prelims.
Shawnee Mission Bishop Miege won the 200 medley relay, with the team of Max Hernandez-Nietling, Lex Hernandez-Nietling, Kevin Hannon and Kyle Askew setting a new State Record in a time of 1:35.02 during Friday’s prelims. In finals, the same foursome of defended their number-one seed, winning the race in 1:35.32, well ahead of the runners-up from Topeka Seaman, who touched in 1:38.17. M. Hernandez-Nietling posted an impressive 22.73 as the backstroke lead-off on the medley relay, which brother Lex followed up with an equally impressive 25.25 breaststroke split. Hannon and Askew finished off the race, splitting 24.96 and 22.38, respectively, over the fly and backstroke portions of the race.
Lex Hernandez-Nietling, a class of 2023 University of Utah commit, broke the State Record in the 100 freestyle for the second time in two days Saturday, stopping the clock at 45.12. During Friday’s prelims session, L. Hernandez-Nietling put up a 45.31 in the 100 free to comfortably slide under Keiser Witte‘s 2013 record of 45.58. Later, in the 100 breaststroke, L. Hernandez-Nietling posted a 56.08 and accomplished the same feat as he did in the 100 free, erasing his less-than-24-hours-old State Record of 56.18 set in prelims the day before. All in all, L. Hernandez-Nietling shaved 2/10ths off the 5-1A State Record in the 100 breast, which had stood at 56.28, set by Ryan Downing in 2017.
Max Hernandez-Nietling, brother and teammate of Lex, also won two individual events Saturday. First, in the 50 freestyle, M. Hernandez-Nietling stopped the clock in 20.84 seconds, the only swimmer to break the 21-seconds barrier. Andrew Kutney of Saint Thomas Aquinas touched second in 21.18, while Aidan Scott of Wichita Independent took third in 21.36. Not long after, in the 100 butterfly, M. Hernandez-Nietling secured his second victory with a dominant 48.91 to make him the only swimmer under 50-seconds. The silver medal went to Harry Tjaden, a junior from Saint Thomas Academy, who stopped the clock in 50.56, while bronze went to 50 freestyle runner-up Kutney with a 51.82.
With only minutes to rest and prepare after the 100 fly, Tjaden stepped up and won the 500 free in 4:39.53, nearly 10 seconds ahead of the 2nd place finisher, Joshua Florence of Topeka Seaman, who touched in 4:49.33. Florence had already won the 200 freestyle in a time of 1:43.91, just edging Maize South High School’s Hunter Rey, who stopped the clock in 1:44.19. Rey also finished 4th in the 100 free in 47.96.
McPherson High School won the 200 freestyle relay, falling just 6/100ths short of the State Record set by Topeka Seaman in 2018. The team of William Powers (21.53), Dawson VanGoethem (21.95), Silas Steinert (22.81), and Justus Hampton (21.54) stopped the clock in 1:27.83, over a second ahead of the silver medalists from Wichita Independent High School, who finished in 1:28.97.
The team of M. Hernandez-Nietling (45.50), L. Hernandez-Nietling (45.35), Hannon (50.96), and Henry Taylor (50.57) secured another win and 40 points for Bishop Miege in the 400 freestyle relay, recording a 3:12.38, beating runners-up McPherson and Topeka Seaman by over three seconds. M. Hernandez-Nietling, the lead-off swimmer for Bishop Miege, nearly ran down his brother Lex’s hours-old State Record of 45.12, falling only 0.38 short of the mark with a 45.50, the fastest lead-off in the field. The only other lead-off swimmer close to M. Hernandez-Nietling was IM and backstroke champion Ben Patton, who posted a 45.52 for Wichita Trinity Academy in the consolation final. Trinity Academy ultimately finished 10th overall, despite Patton’s stellar opening 100; after Patton, Trinity Academy recorded splits of 49.35, 1:00.11 for the vital 3rd leg of the relay, and a 51.75 from the anchor.
Emporia High School’s Reed Slayden took the gold in diving, totally 433.55 points. Keetan Munsell from Salina South took 2nd with 401.00 points, while Kolby Adams of Wichita Heights took 3rd, securing a vital 16 points. Tate Harrison, also of Wichita Heights, placed 5th on the 1-meter board, raking in another 14 points for a total of 30. Topeka Seaman, which finished 2nd in the overall team standings, falling just 2 points short of Wichita Heights, scored only 2 points in diving with a 15th-place finish from Tristan Hahn.
Despite not winning a single event and scoring zero points in the 200 IM and the 100 fly, Wichita Heights managed to secure the team victory with 213 points, barely edging defending champions Topeka Seaman, who finished second with 211 points. While diving was key to Wichita Heights’ victory, they also picked up 21 points in the 100 freestyle, 21 points in the 100 breaststroke, and 17 points in the 100 backstroke, thanks to Aidan Gantenbein‘s silver-medal performance. In the relays, Wichita Heights placed third, third, and fifth, notching a total of 92 points between the three races. If Wichita Heights had placed 6th in the 400 freestyle relay, they would have tied for the overall team championship with Topeka Seaman; had they placed 7th or lower, Topeka Seaman would have repeated as 5-1A State champions.
Top 5 Team Finishes
1. Wichita Heights – 213
2. Topeka Seaman – 211
3. Wichita the Independent – 202
4. Bishop Miege – 197
5. McPherson – 178