HHS swimmers dominate home meet
By KLINT SPILLER
There wasn't much doubt midway through the Hays High School swimming meet who the champions would be.
The Indians won the first five events and registered multiple top placings. By the end, Hays High won eight of the 11 events and finished first with 209 points ahead of Great Bend, 156, and Junction City, 135.
Though it seemed clear midway through, Hays High head coach Ann Adams said she didn't expect a clearcut victory.
"I didn't go into it thinking for sure we would win this one," Adams said. "No, no, no, when you look at the top times for both teams, it could easily have happened where it didn't come out with (Hays High winning). You can't ever let (your guard) down."
"I told the guys to go for it and put it all in the water," Adams continued.
The Indians did that, notching a new qualifying time and two new consideration times on top of their eight event championships.
Junior Austin Chambers won the 100-yard breaststroke in one minute and 12.55 seconds, clearing the automatic qualifying standard by just 0.1 seconds.
Sophomore Morgan Mathews earned a consideration qualifying time in the 100-yard butterfly, placing third in 1:05.99.
Senior Connor Hess improved in the 200-yard IM by two seconds, winning in a consideration time of 2:30.07.
"We just want to try to get to state and try to improve our times," Hess said.
Hays High's individual event champions included senior Blake Mathews in the 200-yard freestyle (1:59.23) and 500-yard freestyle (5:47.95), senior Derek Drees in the 50-yard freestyle (23.86) and 100-yard butterfly (1:00.31), Hess in the 200 IM and Chambers in the 100 breaststroke.
Two of Hays High's relays also won.
The 200-yard medley relay, composed of Hess, Chambers, Drees and Blake Mathews, finished first in 1:54.16, and the 200-yard freestyle relay, which included Blake Mathews, Morgan Mathews, senior Joshua Brungardt and Drees, won with a time of 1:38.78.
"I'm very satisfied with all the progress the guys have made and all the effort they've put into it," Adams said. "There are some real special people here."
At this point, Hays High has a multitude of state qualifiers, so many swimmers are trying out different events trying to qualify in as many as possible.
For instance, Blake Mathews has qualified individually in the 100 freestyle, 200 freestyle and 500 freestyle, but swimmers can compete in only two individual events and two relays at state. So prior to state, Mathews must make a decision which events are best for him.
There is some strategy that goes into it, finding which event might give them the best chances of placing well, but Adams said often it comes down to which events the swimmers prefer.
"We try to encourage them to try different strokes," Adams said. "... It's lovely, because then you can just choose what you want to swim at state."
Hess said once a swimmer automatically qualifies, the swim meets tend to be more fun.
"It's not as serious since you've already made it, but we still try to do our best," Hess said.