WOW! What a finish! Can you imagine how important 0.10 seconds is? Well, to the Ladue Boys Swimming & Diving Team, it represented the difference between a 5th and 3rd place finish at the Suburban Yellow Conference Championships on Thursday, Oct. 25, hosted at Lindbergh High School.
Going into the final event, the 400 Free Relay, Kirkwood had secured the Championship Win with what would be their final score of 455 points ahead of 2nd place Marquette with what would be their final score of 349 points, but Ladue and Lindbergh were tied and trailing Lafayette by only 4 points in the overall standings. A 1st place win in the final event would earn 6 more points than 2nd place and 8 more points than 3rd, so the final placing of the final relay would determine the final placing of the championships, 3rd through 5th, with Eureka assured what would be their final 6th place score of 190 points.
Ladue held the lead from the start for 3 out of 4 legs but just could not fend off Lindbergh’s anchor swimmer, Tyler Lewis, who is one of the Top Ranked State Qualifiers in Multiple Events (1st in 100 Ba & 200 IM, 2nd in 100 Br, 4th in 100 Fy, etc.). Lindbergh’s 400 Free Relay “clipped” Ladue by a mere 0.10 seconds for 1st with Lafayette a mere 0.50 behind Ladue for 3rd; the excitement and noise in the natatorium between coaches, teammates, parents, fans and officials, could not have been higher!
Ultimately, Ladue finished in 5th with 319 points, just 2 points behind Lafayette with 321 points and just 6 points behind Lindbergh with 325 points. Had Ladue won that final relay, Lindbergh and Ladue would have switched positions – Ladue in 3rd with 325 and Lindbergh in 5th with 319. Said Head Swimming & Diving Coach Gentry of their meet performance, and that final race in particular, “They ALL swam their hearts out, everyone of them, knowing what was at stake from the start, and I could not be more proud of our results. What a TEAM effort!” Even though Ladue’s 400 Free Relay finished 2nd, their time reclaimed from Central (Cape Girardeau) the #1 Ranking in the Class 1 State Rankings for the 400 Free Relay; all five of the other teams in the Suburban Yellow Conference Championships were Class 2 “Large School” teams destined for their own separate State Championships, so Ladue will not compete against them again this season.
A summary of those from Ladue that scored for the team were:
- William Pan (1st, 100 Fr; 2nd, 200 Fr)
- Brandon Yan (1st, 200 IM; 6th, 100 Fy)
- Franklin Liu (2nd, 500 Fr; 4th, 200 IM)
- Luyi Gao (4th, 100 Fr; 5th, 50 Fr)
- Sam Garza (4th, 100 Fr; 9th, 100 Fr)
- Graham Fredman (6th, 500 Fr; 16th, 200 Fr)
- Captain Noah Unger (7th, 500 Fr; 10th, 200 Fr)
- Grant Cox (9th, Diving)
- Daniel Volobuev (10th, 100 Br & new Qualifying Standard)
- Nathanial Marsters (12th, 100 Ba)
- Sam Helmkampf (13th, 100 Br)
- Max Bernickus (13, Diving)
- Ben Rose (14, 500 Fr)
- Alex Ye (14th, 100 Ba)
- Captain Chris Ye (16th, 100 Fy)
- Jacob Sheldon (16th, 100 Ba)
The 200 Medley Relay of Franklin Liu (Ba), Nathanial Marsters (Br), Graham Fredman (Fy) and Noah Unger (Fr) finished 5th, while the 200 & 400 Free Relay Team of William Pan, Brandon Yan, Luyi Gao and Sam Garza both finished 2nd.
Ten Ladue swimmers hoping to further improve their season best times toward assurance of a Top 32 State Ranking in an event will compete in a “Last Chance Swimming Meet” on Tuesday, Oct. 30 at 4:30 p.m., hosted by Rockwood Summit, while Ladue will host a “Last Chance Diving Meet” at 4 p.m. for up to 16 divers, two of which are Ladue.
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