St. Thomas Aquinas Takes Kansas 5-1A HS Girl’s State C’ship Title


A recap of Friday’s prelims can be found here.

2017 Top Three Team Finishers:

  1. Shawnee Mission-Bishop Miege (289 points)
  2. Overland Park-St. Thomas Aquinas (234 points)
  3. Overland Park-Blue Valley-Southwest (210 points)

2018 Top Three Team Finishers:

  1. Overland Park-St. Thomas Aquinas (289 points)
  2. Wichita-Kapaun Mt. Carmel (285 points)
  3. Wichita-Bishop Carroll (201 points)

St. Thomas Aquinas made their first bid for the team title early, with a commanding victory over runner-up Kapaun Mt. Carmel in the 200 medley relay, finishing 1:52.42 to 1:54.47, respectively. Last year, Bishop Miege won the medley relay by nearly 6 seconds to establish a new state record of 1:47.16; today, however, Bishop Miege settled for 6th place and were more than 10 seconds off the 2017 relay’s mark.

Kapaun Mt. Carmel began the race with an early lead in the backstroke, but Jesse Paxton of St. Thomas Aquinas delivered a 30.34 in the breaststroke, beating Kapaun Mt. Carmel by nearly 2 seconds on that leg of the race. From there St. Thomas Aquinas only further distanced themselves from the field.

Top seed Ella Blake of Seabury Academy defended her position in the 200 freestyle, taking the state title in a 1:56.38. Silver went to senior Cassie Grunhard of Bishop Miege with a 1:59.16, while bronze went to Kapaun Mt. Carmel freshman Claire Conover in 1:59.58, making them the only swimmers to crack 2-minutes. Though Grunhard had the early speed and the lead at the 100-yard turn, flipping 55.77 to Blake’s 56.01, Blake remained steady over the final 100 to pull ahead and win, out-splitting Grunhard by 6/10ths on the 3rd 50 and by 2.3 seconds on the final 50.

Natalie Knapp surged on the breaststroke and came from behind to win the 200 IM in 2:15.11, edging teammate Elizabeth Mitsch, who finished in 2:15.81. Though Mitsch had more than a 3-second lead over Knapp at the 100-yard turn, Knapp made up all the ground and then some in the breaststroke. Though both swimmers turned almost dead-even at 150 yards, 1:44.76 to 1:44.95, Knapp finished stronger in the freestyle.

Knapp and Mitsch were joined in the 200 IM final by teammate Amand Le who placed 6th (2:20.29). Together the three swimmers tallied major points for Kapaun Mt. Carmel, setting the team up as a major contender for the overall team title, despite finishing only 7th last year in the team standings.

Sydney Schmidt from Bishop Carroll won the 50 by nearly a second, touching in 24.35. Silver went to Maize freshman Brooklyn Blasdel, who touched in 25.26. St. Thomas Aquinas, the 2017 team runner-up, reaped significant points in the 50 with swimmers finishing in 3rd, 4th, and 8th.

Haylee Weiss from Emporia took the gold in one-meter diving, posting a total of 451.90 points to surge past Elise Dahm of Blue Valley-Southwest, who was the frontrunner following Friday’s semifinals. Dahm ended up 2nd with 421.95 points. St. Thomas Aquinas reaped major points in diving, claiming 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 7th. Kapaun Mt. Carmel, meanwhile, had divers place 11th and 14th.

If her margin of victory in the 50 wasn’t enough, Sydney Schmidt erased all doubt that she is the top sprinter in Kansas’s 5-1A division by winning the 100 fly with a 57.62, finishing nearly three seconds ahead of runner-up Ava Ford (1:00.36) of Bishop Miege. Though she finished 3/10ths off her prelims time, taking out today’s race 0.06 faster on the first 50 but finishing with slightly less gusto, Schmidt was the only swimmer under 1-minute in the 100 fly in either today’s final or yesterday’s prelims.

After finishing 2nd in the 200 free, Cassie Grunhard blasted a 54.66 to capture the individual state title in the 100 by over half-a-second. The race was tight at the 50-yard turn where four swimmers flipped nearly even: Grunhard in 26.65, slightly ahead of Hesston’s Addi Schroeder at 26.71, followed by Kapaun Mt. Carmel’s Katherine Baldessari in 26.72 and St. Thomas Aquinas’s Allie Micklavzina at 26.77. Grunhard held a consistent stroke to split a 28.01 on the back half of the race for her ultimate 54.66. Schroeder, meanwhile, split 28.43 for a final result of 55.14; Micklavzina split 28.62 for a final 55.39 and bronze; and Baldessari a 28.73 for a 55.45 and fourth position on the podium.

The 500 freestyle was won by top-seed Lexie Shelton, who is also the number-one seed heading into the 100 breaststroke, an uncommon double. Shelton won the race by a narrow margin of 18-one-hundredths, barely edging 200 freestyle champion Ella Blake, 5:09.15 to 5:09.33, respectively. Though Shelton led Blake by nearly 1.5 seconds at 400 yards, Blake surged over the final 100, clocking a 1:01.38 to Shelton’s 1:02.61. Blake finished the final 50 in a 29.55, her only other sub-30 split other than the first 50. Shelton, meanwhile, was a 30.62, but it proved just enough to hold off the charging Blake. Bronze went to 200 IM champ Natalie Knapp with a 5:30.68.

The team of Maddie Kopp (25.18), Aubrey Hesser (25.51), Jesse Paxton (24.81), and Allie Micklavzina (25.04) brought home another relay title for St. Thomas Aquinas, stopping the clock in the 200 free relay in a time of 1:40.54. Silver went to the team from Bishop Carroll which finished 1:41.63, while bronze went to Shawnee-Mill Valley in 1:42.37. Team title contenders Kapaun Mt. Carmel took 4th in 1:43.44. 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly champion Sydney Schmidt posted the fastest split in the field, clocking a 24.56 to lead off Bishop Carroll’s silver medal effort.

Sophomore Sarah Graven from Blue Valley-Southwest eeked out the victory in the 100 backstroke, taking 1.6 seconds off her prelims time in the process. Graven won the race by an electrifying 1/100th over top-seed Elizabeth Mitsch, the runner-up in the 200 IM. Graven and Mitsch finished 59.54 and 59.55, repectively, making them the only swimmers in the 5-1A division under 1-minute in the backstroke. Mitsch split 28.95/30.60; Graven’s splits, unfortunately, are not currently available.

St. Thomas Aquinas junior Jesse Paxton edged top-seed and 500 free champion Lexie Shelton for the gold medal in the 100 breast, touching 1:06.62 to Shelton’s 1:06.70. Paxton, who had by far the fastest breaststroke split in the medley relay at the beginning of the meet (30.34 versus Shelton’s 31.21), relied on her early speed taking a four-tenths lead over Shelton on the first 50, 31.31 to 31.70. Though Shelton closed better, 35.00 to Paxton’s 35.31, it wasn’t quite enough to seal the victory. Kayla Teasley, who took bronze, had the best splits–if not the fastest–of the entire field; Teasley took out the race in a 33.49, but lost little steam on the back half of the race, splitting a 35.21 for a final time of 1:08.70. Though Paxton and Shelton were significantly faster overall, they each boasted split differences of 4.00 seconds and 3.30 seconds, respectively, from the first 50 to the second 50, whereas Teasley was a mere 1.72 seconds slower on the back half.

Kapaun Mt. Carmel owned the 400 freestyle relay, winning by over five-and-a-half seconds. Katherine Baldessari, Natalie Knapp, Elizabeth Mitsch, and Claire Conover combined for a 3:41.16. Silver went to Bishop Miege in 3:46.72. Sydney Schmidt led off Bishop Carroll’s relay in 53.41, making her not only the fastest swimmer in the relay but also the fastest 100 freestyler in the 5-1A championships. Schmidt’s leadoff time, had it been swum in the individual 100 free, would have secured her the state title by 1.25 seconds. Individual 100 freestyle champion Cassie Grunhard, meanwhile, lead off Bishop Miege’s silver medal effort with a 55.52.

In the end, St. Thomas Aquinas won the overall team trophy, finishing with 289 points. Kapaun Mt. Carmel was hot on their heels and finished 2nd with 285 points, while Bishop Carroll took 3rd with 201 points. The defending state champions from Bishop Miege managed to place 4th with 175 points, just ahead of Shawnee-Mill Valley which finished 5th with 172.5 points.

Though Kapaun Mt. Carmel had the strongest team of swimmers, St. Thomas Aquinas had more and better divers, and the points earned in diving ultimately swung the meet in their favor.


  • 200 Medley Relay: St. Thomas Aquinas – 1:52.42
  • 200 Free: Ella Blake, Seabury Academy – 1:56.38
  • 200 IM: Natalie Knapp, Kapaun Mt. Carmel – 2:15.11
  • 50 Free: Sydney Schmidt, Bishop Carroll – 24.35
  • 1 Meter Diving: Haylee Weiss, Emporia – 451.90
  • 100 Fly: Sydney Schmidt, Bishop Carroll – 57.62
  • 100 Free: Cassie Grunhard, Bishop Miege – 54.66
  • 500 Free: Lexie Shelton, Bishop Carroll – 5:09.15
  • 200 Free Relay: St. Thomas Aquinas – 1:40.54
  • 100 Back: Sarah Graven, Blue Valley-Southwest – 59.54
  • 100 Breast: Jesse Paxton, St. Thomas Aquinas – 1:06.62
  • 400 Free Relay: Kapaun Mt. Carmel – 3:41.16

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About Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson originally hails from Clay Center, Kansas, where he began swimming at age six.  At age 14 he began swimming club year-round and later with his high school team, making state all four years.  He was fortunate enough to draw the attention of Kalamazoo College where he went on to …

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