According to head coach David Bresser, the 2019 Lansing girls’ swim team had to rely on their depth and versatility to be successful.
“At each meet it seemed someone different was stepping up to help,” Bresser said.
The Lions wrapped up their season at the state meet, which has the event that Bresser said he will remember most from this year.
“I think I will remember the 200 free relay (Samantha Moburg, Kailyn Cline, Austyn Garcia and Alix Lawler) from the state meet,” he said. “That was a swim at the end of the year to get you excited about next year. Three of the four will be back. Also, three of those four relay swimmers were swimming in their first event at the state meet. They proved their season prepared them for this type of meet.”
In a year filled with great performances all around, the coach said the team’s best performance came in the United Kansas Conference meet. The Lions narrowly defeated De Soto to take the first UKC title and Bresser said it took a team effort to win. He pointed out Trinity Hall’s four individual events as strong performances. He also brought up how the diving portion of the meet had the entire team cheering during the three events in a comeback win.
“A close second best is the all-relay meet early in the season,” Bresser said. “It was nice to keep one of the trophies at our place but it took depth to get those points. That meet helped confidence early and set the tone for success at the end.”
Bresser said it is hard to pick the best individual performance due to the team having so many at different times. If he had to pick, he said it would have been Hall and Darby Mance at the UKC meet.
Hall won two of her individual events and was part of the 200 medley relay team. Bresser said Hall’s “most clutch” moment came as the relay anchor coming from behind to overtake a Shawnee Heights swimmer in the last event to secure the win.
“She wasn’t going to let herself or the team down,” Bresser said. “But also Darby Mance came through at UKC. She was not feeling well and even doubted she would be able to swim her second event. But she swam two lifetime best times, including moving up two spots in 100 back when we were down 11 points. And despite still feeling ill, (Mance) swam the last relay putting Trinity in position to make the comeback.”
Bresser said the two seniors showed why their teammates chose them as captains.
“We needed them at UKC,” he said. “If not for their awesome swims and leadership on deck, we wouldn’t have captured the title.”
Hall would be the team’s MVP this year, according to the coach. She was the only swimmer to achieve multiple automatic state times and was a key relay member.
“Since Trinity’s first meet as a Lansing swimmer,” Bresser said, “she has been our backstroker both on the medley relay and individually. When I look back at past results, at Trinity’s first meet as a Lansing freshman, she got two automatic state times, 200 medley relay and 100 backstroke. Since then no one has come close to challenging those spots. We relied on her swimming talents but she was also critical as a team captain. It really showed at the last two meets of the season where she rallied her teammates for the comeback UKC win and at the state meet mentoring our relay swimmers for upcoming seasons.”
When Bresser was asked to name the most improved, he said that was a tough question. He said juniors Alix Lawler and Samantha Moburg improved from last year, especially in relays. The two achieved their first state consideration times and Bresser said they are now “hungry” heading into their senior year.
He also brought up freshmen Alexis Buchholz and Ellie Johnson as two that improved as well. He said Buchholz looked good early in the breaststroke and continued to improve as the season went on.
“She ended up swimming breaststroke on the medley relay,” Bresser said. “So I like knowing we may have that spot nailed down for the next few years.”
Johnson’s season came as a surprise to Bresser. The freshman didn’t have prior swimming experience, but he said she improved enough to earn a spot on the UKC team. Despite being just short of scoring points, Bresser said she swam well and had huge time drops in her events.
Lastly, Bresser brought up Gracie Slattery’s improvement.
“Last year she could barely do a start,” he said. “And by the end of this season dropped time to swim a relay at UKC and be part of the state team.”
This season for the Lions also featured Basehor-Linwood swimming in a co-op with the Lions. The coach said the impact of the Bobcats joining the team was outstanding.
“It was outstanding,” Bresser said. “The friendships created were amazing. I’m hoping for continued growth with both the boys’ and the girls’ teams at Basehor-Linwood. The support from BLHS administrators was outstanding and we look forward to this continued partnership. As the BLHS team continue to grow and improve they will just keep moving up the standings at UKC.”
With the season over, the swim team will send off a senior class that Bresser said will leave quite a legacy as “outstanding, well-rounded talent” and “big contributors.” Four of the seniors were academic all-Americans and one is heading to the Air Force Academy. He said they were leaders beyond the pool with their scholastic achievements, volunteering in the community and being involved with other sports and student council.
The team also will lose five swimmers who swam all four years. Each of them were multi-year letter winners. The group was also reliable point scorers and diverse in their abilities. He said that is difficult to replace.
“Every year it’s tough to replace our seniors but each year we have someone step up to contribute,” Bresser said. “I think this year may be more difficult mainly because of the relay holes to fill. For four years, Trinity was the backstroker and Darby was the butterflier on the 200 medley and Trinity was a reliable anchor on the 400 free relay for the last three years.”
The team will lose two key sophomores from this year’s team as well. Ryley Bullock and Haley Turner both are moving to Germany. Bresser said they were great teammates and young women.
“They will be missed,” he said. “But unfortunately that is what happens living in a military town.”
The coach said the team will miss the seniors’ leadership but the team will have a strong senior class next year. He expects a combined 15 seniors from the two schools and said it is an “amazing, well-rounded and talented group.”
Lawler and Moburg will be key contributors next year with their big meet experience. He also expects Lizzie Martin to continue to contribute. Slattery will be key for the relays and he also expects improvement from Buchholz and Kailyn Cline after the two made state as freshmen.
“With the strong group of seniors graduating this year,” Bresser said, “I am looking to see who emerges to fill those holes. We need more than just one to rise to the challenge.”
For Basehor, the coach said he is excited for Breckin Blansit to return. She is a three-year letter winner. He also is excited for Molly Blankenship and Maria Stieben to continue to improve after their first year of swimming. Emma Jackson will be a returning point scorer for the Bobcats as well and he is looking forward to seeing what she will do as a sophomore.
Bresser continued to have praise for what he saw from the freshmen class this year.
“This year we had a versatile class who will be the key to our future,” he said. “Alexis Buchholz and Kailyn Cline got state experience on relays, Ellie Johnson and Audrey Jones got UKC experience in mid-distance and diving, then we had great performances at the end of the year from Megan Boettcher and Nancy Rhoads. Additionally, we had two freshmen divers (Audrey and Reece Baker).”
A goal for next year will be to defend their UKC title.
“But it will be very difficult,” Bresser said. “De Soto was only one point behind us and they are a young team who will just get stronger.”
He also wants to get the relays back to state. Moburg has the best splits in the back and fly, but Bresser pointed out that she cannot swim both legs so he will be looking for someone for those spots.
For Basehor, he said the Bobcats are primed to get their first state relay cuts. All four girls on the 200 free relay team return and he again mentioned how excited he is for Emma Jackson’s potential for individual cuts.