The past six years a tradition of dominance has developed in the Sunflower League, always ending in the same way: the obligatory pictures on top of the podium and a dip with the fully clothed swim coach in the pool.
However this year the Lancers broke tradition.
No, the team still handily won the league championship; though, the tradition took a melodramatic turn out of respect for the other teams. This year the Lancers shut down the competition with a near 130 point spread from second place, a far cry from the one point nail-bitter of last year’s championship over Olathe East.
The team’s success this year was anchored not only in standouts like senior Clay Finley, who placed first in all four of his individual and relay events, but also key performances by people still vying for state times.
Because the league meet is the second to last chance for swimmers to cut time in order to qualify for State, many swimmers find it necessary to shave body hair and wear specialized suits in order to improveaerodynamics in the water.
This strategy proved successful for many swimmers, including junior Nathan Simpson, who cut several seconds in order to achieve a state time. The moment during prelims Friday night was an emotional point; Simpson smacked the water and hugged teammate Andrew Wakins in celebration after he made the state cut in the 100 breast.
Another standout performance was by junior Peter Frazell who qualified All-American in diving; the first male diver to do so for East since 1968. Despite his individual success, Frazell placed third as he faced intense competition from Division One and Olympic prospects.
Next up for the Lancers: the JV League meet (the last time for swimmers to get their state times), followed by rigorous practice leading up to the State meet, where the Lancers are favored by six points according to junior Jack Walker who scored the meet based on swimmers current times.
Update: No new swimmers qualified for the State meet at JV League on February 9.