For Hickman and Rock Bridge swimmers, it was good to be home again.
After starting the season with six meets on the road, the Kewpies won their first meet at home Friday. The Kewpies won eight events to win with 506 points. Rock Bridge finished fourth with 172.
Mary Institute Country Day finished second with 343, Blue Springs South was third with 313 and Columbia Independent was fifth with 16.
Hickman controlled the meet from start to finish, winning the 200-yard medley relay to open the swimming part of the meet and the 400 freestyle relay to end it.
The medley relay team of Julie Schenker, Mary Sheahen, Chelsea Laun and Claire Piester finished in 1 minute, 55.41 seconds, the team’s fastest time. The same group also set the team’s season low in the 400 freestyle by finishing in 3:49.63.
“I think our relays are doing really well this season and I hope we’ll place at state,” Laun said.
Piester, a sophomore, also won the 50 freestyle in 26.40 and the 100 freestyle in 57.19.
“Claire had a good day,” said John Hamilton, Hickman and Rock Bridge coach. “She’s been very consistent in our competitions. She’s pulled off double victories in most of our meets.”
Piester said she has been able to relax after qualifying for the state finals in the year’s first meet.
“It just makes me want to improve more,” Piester said.
Schenker won the 200 individual medley in 2:17.07. She finished second in 1:01.84 in the 100 backstroke, 0.26 seconds behind Mary Institute’s Elizabeth Hailand.
“I thought I did a lot better on the 100 back than I thought I was going to, so I was excited about that,” Schenker said. “I knew we were together and she finished it really well.”
Rock Bridge’s highest finish was fourth in the 400 freestyle relay. Meghan Kurzejeski finished sixth in the 200 freestyle (2:15.02) and 100 butterfly (1:13.15).
Elizabeth King finished fifth in the 1:12.44 in the 100 backstroke for the Bruins.
Rock Bridge also had a strong showing on the 1-meter diving board.
Ariane Warren finished third and Ashley Hatfield finished fifth. Hickman sophomore Sarah Mosby took second place. Sarah Brengarth was fourth. Mary Institute’s Carolyn Littlefield won the event with 230.30 points.
At one point, Hickman won five races in a row. Sheahen won the 500 freestyle in 5:25.21, her fastest time of the season. She also finished third in the 200 freestyle in 2:03.93.
“I’m just getting to know Mary but she’s got a pretty extensive background in swimming,” Hamilton said. “Those are very solid times for her.”
Laun won a close race in the 100 butterfly in 1:04.13, and finished second to Schenker in the 200 individual medley.
Hamilton said he was pleased with the work of junior Hannah Hemmelgarn, who won the 100 breaststroke for Hickman. She finished in 1:15.57, slightly higher than the state qualifying mark of 1:14.19.
“That is a nice thing to see,” Hamilton said. “I think that’s going to be worth some good mileage for her. I think a kid needs to get that every now and then to say ‘Hey, I do have a shot at this.”
Hamilton said swimming at home was a psychological boost for his teams.
Blue Springs South finished third without its best swimmer, Angela Goodson.
“Wins are always nice, but it would have been at lot closer,” Hamilton said. “I felt good about our chances coming in, but you never know.”
As the teams near the midpoint of the season, Hamilton said the outlook appeared good for Hickman and Rock Bridge.
“We are making slow, steady improvement,” Hamilton said. “I don’t think we’re backsliding at all. That’s good because we’re in a real heavy part of our training.”