One more Cougar earns state-qualifying mark
On the last possible day of qualifying, Shawnee Mission Northwest swimmer Josh Stewart proved he still had something left in the tank.
Stewart recorded a season-best time of 52.43 seconds in the 100-meter freestyle at last Tuesday's Sunflower League junior varsity Meet at California Trail Junior High School in Olathe.
The time was good enough for an invitation to state, making Stewart the fourth individual state qualifier from Northwest's swimming and diving team.
It was a day of faster times all over the board for the Cougars, as several swimmers shaved tenths, halves and full seconds off their previous season-best times. Although Stewart was the only new Cougar to qualify for state at the meet, several Northwest swimmers had times to be proud of, according to Cougar coach Andy Lovan.
'The team swam very well," Lovan said. "There were lots of good drops (in time). I complimented all of them at the end of the meet. For those who didn't make it to state, that was the way to close the season -- on top by improving your time. I was very impressed with the team."
Most notable among those who just missed state was swimmer Richard Arnett, who shaved a combined eight seconds off his times in two events. His 1:01.04 in the 100 freestyle was four seconds faster than his previous time and his 1:18.86 in the 100 breaststroke also beat his previous best by the same amount.
As for those headed to state --n Topeka this year on Feb. 17 and 18 --tewart joins fellow Cougar swimmers Garrett Thomsen and Krish Singhal, and Cougar diver Daniel Beattie as members of the Northwest team who have qualified individually for Friday and Saturday's state meet at the Hummer Sports Complex.
Seven other Northwest swimmers will join that group as members of the school's 200 medley, 200 freestyle, and 400 freestyle relay teams.
As the last few days of state preparation approach, Lovan is leading his squad through workouts that will tail off and leave the squad with enough energy for the culminating events.
"We're down to our last week," Lovan said. "We leave for state Friday morning. We're slowly tapering down our workouts. Josh didn't change his taper; he kept it with the rest of the team who based theirs on Garrett and Krish. We're focusing on starts and turns -- the small aspects of a race. We'll be trying to build more confidence, do some sprinting, and then end with a shave."
Lovan ended by stating that the confidence of his squad is right where it needs to be, and that he expects to see the Cougars' hard work pay off.
"I'm looking for a great meet," Lovan said. "I'm looking for some fast swims. I'm looking for an excited response from the team. It's their time to shine."
Swimming events in Topeka begin at 12:30 p.m. Friday with the finals set to begin at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.