Shawnee Dispatch

Two SM Northwest relay teams qualify for state championships

February 7, 2012, 12:19 p.m. Updated: 8 February 2012, 12:00 a.m.

The seconds were dropping like lead balloons Friday and Saturday.

The Shawnee Mission Northwest boys swim team shaved dozens of seconds off its race times at the Sunflower League championship meet at Mission Trail Middle School on Friday and Saturday. In the process, the team qualified two of its relay teams for the Kansas 6A state championships in two weeks.

The relay squad of juniors Ben Kleller and Max Oberbraeking and seniors Jonathon Plagge and Jace Gipler took seventh in the 400-meter freestyle relay and eighth in the 200-meter freestyle relay to earn their berths at the state meet in Topeka on Feb. 18-19.

Oberbraeking and sophomore diver Julian Coles-Niezes recorded the highest individual finishes for the Cougars, with Coles-Niezes taking 11th in the three-meter dive and Oberbraeking earning 11th in the 100 freestyle medley.

In addition to the state qualifications, Northwest head coach Matt Wolfe was very impressed with the speed improvements in all his swimmers.

“We finished ninth,” Wolfe said, “but, in terms of performance, I can’t remember a meet in my 16 years of teaching and coaching swimming where we dropped more seconds off our times. Friday night we had only four swims that didn’t drop time, and they were close.”

Wolfe left the meet feeling good about more than just his state qualifiers Saturday.

“We work hard and we dropped a ton of seconds,” he said. “In our 500 we had one swimmer drop almost 20 seconds and another dropped almost 14. We had a lot of goals we hit this week.”

The Cougars now have both freestyle relays and a diver qualified for state, but they’re not through trying to send more athletes to Topeka. The Sunflower League junior varsity meet was Tuesday, while a “last chance” meet will be Thursday. Wolfe and his staff set their sights on Tuesday for their potential qualifiers. Results were not available at press time.

“We’re hoping to qualify our medley relay and max in the 100 on Tuesday,” Wolfe said before the meet.

Originally published at: http://www.shawneedispatch.com/news/2012/feb/07/two-sm-northwest-relay-teams-qualify-state-champio/