By Kai Raymer (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
No one was going to beat mighty Glendale in Tuesday night’s Ozark Conference Swimming and Diving Championships.
Instead, the real battle came for second place.
The West Plains Zizzers won that battle and made program history.
West Plains, in its sixth year as a program, earned second-place honors in the OC meet with a team score of 211.
It’s the best conference performance yet for the Zizzers.
West Plains has just nine swimmers on the team, five of which are seniors.
“We’re not a huge team, but we can throw out some good races and some good swims,” said Zizzers coach Ryan Smith. “We’ve had a lot of fun.”
West Plains had no first-place finishers, but recorded points in 16 of 18 individual events and all three relays.
Kyle Jolliff (100 breastroke, 1:06.82), Dakota Sparks (500 freestyle, 5:19.10) and Isaac Kammerer (200 IM, 2:26.01) led West Plains with second-place finishes in their respective events.
“It was a great night for us,” Smith said. “People stepped up and finished higher than they were seeded and scored more points than they should have.”
Thanks to a feeder program, Smith hopes the Zizzers can continue to grow their program in the coming years.
West Plains splits its practices between the outdoor pool in nearby Mountain View and the indoor pool at the West Plains Civic Center.
Recently, the Zizzers got a third lane for their indoor practices.
“It’s a fight (for practice space) sometimes,” Smith said. “That extra lane really helps. The kids go with the flow and do a great job of maximizing their time in the pool.”
“Project 98” fuels Jasinski
The name sounds like a top-secret government project.
But for Glendale sophomore Michael Jasinski, it’s simply a training path toward a bigger goal.
Jasinski wants to hit 1:38 in the 200-yard freestyle finals at state. Or, as he calls it, Project 98.
Jasinski set the goal as an incoming freshman last year.
“I thought, ‘You know, I kind of want to (swim) 1:38,” Jasinski said. “I pitched the idea to my coach and we’ve been working to hit that goal ever since.”
Jasinski was all-state in the 200 (fifth place) and 500 (fourth place) last year. He won both events on Tuesday night, recording a 1:48.20 in the 200 and a 5:01.46 in the 500.
His best time so far this season in the 200, 1:45.46, is the third-best among all Class 1 swimmers. Last year’s champ swam 1:39.14.
“Hopefully I’ll win,” Jasinski said. “As long as I get top three, I’ll be very happy. I know it’s taken a lot of work. I’m pretty confident going in.”
Schulte makes quick impact for Lakers
Gavin Schulte hears the question a lot.
Just for the record: His practices don’t take place in Lake of the Ozarks.
“(Competitive swimming) is a little bit different,” he said, laughing.
Instead, Schulte and the Lakers make a 35-to-45 minute drive to the Westlake Aquatic Center in Laurie for their pool time.
“It gets hard sometimes, trying to fit in times for practice,” Schulte said. “It’s really time consuming having to drive all the way out there.”
But that hasn’t stopped Schulte from emerging as a standout swimmer.
As a sophomore, Schulte was all-state in the 50 freestyle. He also qualified in the 100 butterfly and anchored a Camdenton relay team.
Tuesday night, he won the 50 freestyle (21.86) and 100 freestyle (48.70). For the season, he has top-five times statewide in both events.
Schulte, who plans to swim in college, wants to cut a few more seconds off his times in order to catch the eye of coaches – including the ones at nearby Mizzou.
“I know I’m about 1.5 seconds off their times right now,” Schulte said. “That’s my goal: Get down to their times so I can swim for them.”
Kickapoo’s Berkheimer specializes in versatility
Jacob Berkheimer wants to study mechanical engineering in college.
But when it comes to preparation for a swim race, the Kickapoo senior doesn’t like to make things complicated.
“Usually, I try to think not to think,” Berkheimer said. “That’s really a lot of my preparation. I think too much about swimming. When it comes time for state, I try to cut out all the thoughts.”
While his mind is clear, Berkheimer’s body is always busy.
Currently, Berkheimer holds Top 15 times statewide in three events at the Class 2 level: the 100 freestyle (49.97), the 100 butterfly (53.88) and the 100 backstroke (55.13).
Berkheimer hopes his versatility can land him a spot on a collegiate swimming team – such as Missouri S&T.
On Tuesday, he won the 100 butterfly (55.59), took fourth in the backstroke (58.30) and swam on two Kickapoo relay teams that placed second.
“It’s good practice here,” he said. “It helps you realize how tiredness can affect your body. Whenever you get to state, you get more rest but you’re also more stressed. You feel like you have to do well. These meets are good because you feel the physical tiredness instead of the mental (tiredness). It warms you up for the mental part.”
Glendale dominates again
Glendale added another OC swimming championship to its collection on Tuesday night. The Falcons finished with a team score of 389, nearly doubling second-place West Plains (211).
Overall, Glendale took first place in eight of the 12 events.
200 medley relay: Glendale, 1:42.91
200 freestyle: Jasinski, Glendale, 1:48.20
200 IM: Goslee, Kickapoo, 2:23.71
50 freestyle: Schulte, Camdenton, 21.86
1-meter diving: Riley, Glendale, 429.65
100 butterfly: Berkheimer, Kickapoo, 55.59
100 freestyle: Schulte, Camdenton, 48.70
500 freestyle: Jasinski, Glendale, 5:01.46
200 freestyle relay: Glendale, 1:33.24
100 backstroke: Flouer, Glendale, 54.79
100 breaststroke: McIllwain, Glendale, 1:04.70
400 freestyle relay: Glendale, 3:26.79
Team standings (top three)
1. Glendale 389
2. West Plains 211
3. Camdenton 175