By Michael Cignoli (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
SPRINGFIELD — With back-to-back state titles to its credit and multiple all-state swimmers returning in search of a third, there are few teams in the state that can compete with Glendale.
None of them are in the Ozark Conference.
The Falcons dominated the conference’s annual championship meet on Monday at the John H. Foster Natatorium, winning 11 of the afternoon’s 12 events to cruise to another conference title.
Reigning state champions Michael Jasinski, Trey Flouer and Lucas Chadwell were all a part of four event wins for the Falcons, whose 371 points put them well ahead of second-place West Plains (213) and third-place Kickapoo (196). The 158-point margin of victory was higher than the total scores of the event’s other five teams, with no school able to match Glendale’s depth.
With a scoring system that rewards schools for up to four top-12 finishes in individual events and a single top-8 finish in the relays, 15 different swimmers and a diver recorded at least one point for the Falcons. All but four of Glendale’s 36 eligible entries found their way onto the scoresheet.
“We know that we’re going to win if we just dive in and swim,” Falcons coach Steve Boyce said. “I mean, it sounds like a terrible thing to say, but the numbers are there and we really have to do a lot of screwing up to not get it done. So then it just becomes a great internal battle. The whole thing is an internal battle. How hard are you willing to push your own body today?”
With three larger meets looming on the calendar — this weekend’s Springfield Invitational, next weekend’s Southwest Missouri championships and the upcoming Class 1 state championship — the Falcons didn’t push themselves to their limits. Only one Glendale event winner posted a time better than his seed time, but it was still more than enough for another conference title.
“I would’ve liked to see a little bit faster times today,” Boyce said. “A little rough for us racing on a Monday. Our goal was not to swim crazy-fast times today. Our goal is to swim — for our non-state crew — really fast at Southwest (Missouri) in a week and a half. And for everybody else, swim fast at state in three and a half weeks.”
Jasinski, Flouer and Chadwell all hope to return to the state podium after they each swam a leg on last year’s title-winning 400 free relay team. Jasinski also won the individual 100 free and was part of the 200 free relay team that established a new Class 1 record at last year’s meet.
Their events shifted slightly on Monday, but each brought home four conference championships.
Jasinski won the 200 free (1:51.19) and the 500 free (4:59.07). He also anchored the 400 free relay team and swam a leg on the 200 free relay team, both of which won the conference titles.
Chadwell won the 50 free (21.92), 100 free (49.04) and joined Jasinski on the 200 free relay. He also swam the first leg on the 200 medley relay as the Falcons swept the team races.
“Lucas really had a fantastic summer,” Boyce said. “He’s done a nice job all the way through, but he had a great summer and kind of popped off. He’s No. 1 in the state in the 50 right now and he’s right behind Michael in the 100. They’ve really got a shot of each winning the 50 and the 200 and then they just battle it out on the 100 to see who’s going to take it.”
Jasinski finished second in the state in the 200 free last year, getting out-touched at the wall and losing by .1 second. The swimmer who beat him, Lee Naber, won’t be at this season’s state meet as his Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School has moved up to Class 2.
The result provided some added incentive for Jasinski throughout the summer, which is only getting stronger as the season’s finish line approaches.
“I was really wanting to win that,” Jasinski said. “I was really upset that I didn’t win it and so that’s just added more fuel to the tank. I’m more motivated than ever to not only defend my title, but to claim that 200 free title.”
Flouer edged Lebanon’s Dakota Windsor in the 100 fly (53.00) and then won the 100 back (55.65) by more than six seconds. Flouer also swam on the 200 medley and 400 free relays.
“He had good competition in the butterfly and he really stepped up and finished that race really nicely,” Boyce said. “That’s really his best swim at a regular kind of meet.”
Windsor was the lone non-Glendale swimmer to win a title, as his time of 2:08.00 was tops in the 200 individual medley. But Glendale’s Evan Riley (459.25) won the diving event and Sam Gillham edged teammate Tyler Douglas to win the 100 breast in 1:06.50. Douglas entered with a better seed time, but Gillham shaved more than a second off his own time to secure the upset.
“We race each other in practice every day so we’re kind of used to that on a day-to-day basis,” Jasinski said. “When we come to a meet and we’re racing each other, it just feels like a sprint set pretty much.”
The win gave Gillham two conference titles, as he also swam on the 200 medley relay team. Carson Johnson anchored that relay and won a second title with the 400 free team.
Jackson Talburt (200 free relay, 400 free relay) also won multiple events for Glendale, while Douglas got a win with the 200 free relay team. Those event wins gave the Falcons a huge lead in the team competition and the points scored by their other entries kept adding to the cushion.
“They have the speed but they also have the depth that they can throw in four swimmers to score in almost every single event,” West Plains coach Ryan Smith said. “We can get maybe a couple swimmers here or three swimmers or every once in a while we can sneak in a fourth swimmer in an event to score, but we’re lucky to get one or two swimmers to score in that event.”
But the Zizzers were able to edge Kickapoo for just the second time in the seven-year history of the upstart West Plains program, which Smith said was a victory in itself. With Glendale still firmly gripping the conference, the other schools often are left battling for who will take second.
“It’s kind of always our feat to try to get that second place,” Smith said. “I know that’s weird to rush for second place, but that’s a championship for us. That’s a big feat for us.”
As for the Falcons, they have their sights set on an even bigger one.
“We’re looking forward to swimming really fast,” Jasinski said. “We’re going to have some pretty fast competition this weekend and then when we get to state it’s game on.”
West Plains, 213
200 Medley Relay — Glendale (Lucas Chadwell, Sam Gillham, Trey Flouer, Carson Johnson), 1:43.27
200 Free — Michael Jasinski (Glendale), 1:51.19
200 IM — Dakota Windsor (Lebanon), 2:08.00
50 Free — Lucas Chadwell (Glendale), 21.92
Diving — Evan Riley (Glendale), 459.25
100 Fly — Trey Flouer (Glendale), 53.00
100 Free — Lucas Chadwell (Glendale), 49.04
500 Free — Michael Jasinski (Glendale), 4:59.07
200 Free Relay — Glendale (Jackson Talburt, Tyler Douglas, Michael Jasinski, Lucas Chadwell), 1:32.76
100 Back — Trey Flouer (Glendale), 55.65
100 Breast — Sam Gillham (Glendale), 1:06.50
400 Free Relay — Glendale (Jackson Talburt, Carson Johnson, Trey Flouer, Michael Jasinski), 3:26.01