Overland Park-Blue Valley Southwest Defends State Title at Kansas 1-5A State Championship

KSHSAA Girls 1-5A State Championships

Overland Park-Blue Valley Southwest defended their 2023 state title at the Kansas Girl’s 1-5A State Championship Saturday. Led by sophomore Willow Weninger, Overland Park-Blue Valley Southwest won two relays as well as two individual events. Weninger started her campaign with a victory in the 200 freestyle, stopping the clock in 1:52.42, a lifetime best by 1.68 seconds and just 0.13 off the Futures cut. Weninger also won the 500 freestyle in 5:03.63, a best time by over six seconds.

The team of Miriam Hill, Ashlyn Bolyard, Sophia Sponseller, and Weninger, representing Overland Park-Blue Valley Southwest, captured gold in the 200 freestyle relay in 1:39.89. The same four would finish the meet with another gold in the 400 freestyle relay, clocking a 3:38.86. Weninger contributed a 24.55 anchor split on the 200 freestyle relay and led off the 400 freestyle relay with a 53.30, a lifetime best by 0.44.

Sophomore Lauryn Vogt of Hillsboro had perhaps the most impressive individual performance. In the 50 freestyle, Vogt posted a 23.77, shaving 0.07 from her previous lifetime best from 2023. Vogt’s performance tied the State Record set in 1998 by Kathy Echiverri of Winfield. Echiverri would go on to represent Indian River State College in the NJCAA, setting the NJCAA record in the 100 breaststroke in 1999 (1:03.14) which stood until 2011. Echiverri would later swim for the University of Nevada where she would set a program record in the 100 breaststroke in 2002 (1:02.30), and also represented the Philippines in 1997 and 1999 at the SEA Games, winning a total of five medals between the two Games.

Vogt’s next victory came in the 100 butterfly where she posted a 56.02, taking 0.75 off of her prelims time and 0.78 off of her lifetime best before the meet. Vogt hit the wall fully 1.24 seconds ahead of Andover’s Sophia Mandanis (58.26), a state champion herself by way of the 200 freestyle relay.

Wichita Trinity Academy’s Aleca Howard defended both of her titles in the 200 IM and 100 breaststroke. In the IM, Howard posted a 2:05.18, winning by over four seconds though about a second off of her winning time from 2023 which remains her lifetime best. Howard’s winning time in the 100 breaststroke, 1:04.76, was also about a second off her 2023 winning time and personal best, though still fully 1.26 seconds ahead of runner-up Kiersten Elliott of Andover, member of the victorious 200 medley relay.

Andover, the runner-up in the overall team standings, claimed gold in the 200 medley relay. The team of Mari Griffin, Kiersten Elliott, Sophia Mandanis, and Brynn Eilert combined for a time of 1:52.09. Moments later, Griffin was back in the pool racing the 200 freestyle where she would ultimately place second in 1:54.13, falling 1.5 seconds short of her lifetime best from December. Griffin would go on to win the 100 backstroke, stopping the clock in 55.29, missing the State Record by just 0.14. Griffin, who is a junior, has a lifetime best of 55.02 in the 100 backstroke and will have another run at the State Record next year.

McPherson’s Danica Brunk won the 100 freestyle in 52.77, shaving 0.22 from her lifetime best. Brunk also placed third in the 50 freestyle in 24.53, though she holds a lifetime best of 24.00 from 2021. Brunk is committed to swim at the University of Nebraska Omaha this fall.

Topeka-Seaman’s Avery Walz recorded two runner-up finishes in the 200 IM (2:09.40) and 100 freestyle (53.17).

Sophomore Allisyn Weiss of Emporia won diving, securing 451.20 points.

Top-10 Team Finishers

  1. OP Blue Valley Southwest – 253
  2. Andover – 198
  3. Topeka-Seaman – 147
  4. OP St Thomas Aquinas – 141
  5. Lansing – 138.5
  6. Wichita-Kapaun Mt Carmel – 132
  7. Wichita-Bishop Carroll – 112
  8. Winfield – 111
  9. De Soto – 105
  10. Leavenworth – 87

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About Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson originally hails from Clay Center, Kansas, where he began swimming at age six with the Clay Center Tiger Sharks, a summer league team. At age 14 he began swimming club year-round with the Manhattan Marlins (Manhattan, KS), which took some convincing from his mother as he was very …

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