Senior Jack Haverty is tired of hearing the Blue Valley North swim team talk trash. He’s sick of hearing them call East’s team “lucky” or make excuses after Haverty and the rest of the relay team won all three relays on their senior night.
“We don’t talk back; we just let our swimming do the talking,” Haverty said.
Haverty and the team heard from their assistant coach that the BV North team said that East wasn’t going to pull off another hat trick in the relays at Topeka the upcoming meet. The team took those comments and turned them into motivation at practice.
Watching BV North win state a year ago gave the team motivation during the off-season to work hard and come back even faster. With the memory of their loss still in their minds, the Lancers have maintained focus all year to achieve their main goal: beat the Mustangs and take home the state title.
At Topeka, the Lancers lost their first relay but won the following two, something that kept the Mustangs’ mouths shut.
“We may have beat North on senior night and Topeka but the whole team still wants redemption after watching them win state last year,” Haverty said.
Despite the trash talk and the rivalry between the schools, Haverty said that the whole East team sees the Mustangs with respect and are looking forward to facing them again for a fourth time this season in Topeka.
“We really respect North for what they’ve achieved,” Haverty said. “Most of this year’s swimmers were at state last year and even though our chances weren’t too good last year, it still gave us a sick feeling to see them take state home. I think we have a really good shot at it this year.”
Since 1990, East and BV North have been crowned champions more than half the time combined. East has won state six times since 1990, while North has won it eight times.
Lancers’ head coach Wiley Wright, who has coached at East for the last 27 years, has witnessed the rivalry develop over the last 10 years.
“Some years we’ve been better than them, and vice versa,” Wright said. “One year they’ll beat us and the other we’ll come back and beat them.”
Wright says he has seen the team improve throughout the season. This year a lot more swimmers than usual have gotten their state cuts before league.
“Last year we had a lot of kids make their state cuts at league. It is harder for them to come back in two weeks and get that same time. If they can do it before league then that gives them the chance to train through league and drop time at state,” Wright said.
The Lancers are 7-1 going into league and will be looking to end the season on a high note. Despite these positive early signs for East, Wright is still focused on getting the other swimmers who haven’t gotten their cut yet qualify at league.
One new addition to the swim team has been senior Grant Minick, who swims the 50 and 100 free. Minick, who transferred from Osbourn Park high school in Virginia, has impressed Coach Wright and will be a big part of the Lancers’ quest for state.
Wright says he mostly amazed how the new senior has recovered from breaking his femur during lacrosse in October.
“He’s at 90% now but if he continues to train the way he’s training he should be 100% at state,” Wright said.
Minick believes that although the injury has diminished his chances to swim at the collegiate level, he can still help the team at state.
“My goal for state is to at least get the same time from last year,” Minick said. “I’m going to treat state just like any other meet and will train for it just as I have done for each meet.”
According to senior Andrew Hornung, this year’s team has a lot more experience than past years and has plenty of talent.
“The relay teams have gotten better and all the seniors have been trying their hardest knowing that this is our last shot at state.”
Hornung says that this year been particularly different from his last three years on the varsity team.
“Senior night was very emotional and it was weird knowing that was the last home meet,” Hornung said.
Hornung has also seen his fellow senior team mates grow into their leadership roles this season.
“Our team is a lot more veteran-driven and mature than last year. It’s weird watching the past seniors and then having to take on the responsibilities that they had.” Hornung said.
Wylie believes that the seniors last year landed the foundation for this year’s seniors to take the helm and lead the team.
“This year’s seniors have done a great job assuming the leadership that each year’s seniors are expected to take,” Wright said. “They know that this is their last shot and that they will do everything they possibly can do to be successful.”
Coach Wright predicts that this year will be a three team horse race at state between East, Wichita East and, of course, BV North. Despite his team’s success and high expectations, Wright still has set a humble goal at state.
“Our goal this year is again to place in the top three,” Wright said. “Honestly, I tell them to do the best that they can and what happens happens. If they swim as fast as they can, that’s all I can ask for.”
Hornung believes that this year’s state competition will be a tough one with a couple other teams that are loaded with talent and speed. Despite the team’s success, Hornung thinks that team will keep their heads straight and hopefully end his high school swimming career with a state championship.
“There are about three are four really good teams at state this year,” Hornung said.
“We aren’t really overconfident but these last few weeks have definitely been good signs. The other teams are going to make it really hard and I think we’re all up to the challenge. It’s going to be a fight till the last relay.”