By Brennan Stebbins (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Entering the final event at Tuesday’s Central Ozark Conference championship, the Webb City swim team trailed Carl Junction by six-and-a-half points and head coach Shawn Klosterman knew his Cardinals needed a first-place finish to take home the title.
There was just one problem: Carl Junction entered the 400 freestyle relay as the third seed and the Cardinals were seeded fifth.
But Webb City’s relay of Skylar Powell, Camryn Klosterman, Avery Mitchell and Sophia Whitesell shocked the home crowd by winning the event, improving by nearly seven seconds in the process, and the Cardinals ended Carl Junction’s quest for a third-straight COC championship.
“Honestly, I about threw up because I was expecting a really big swim and to be second,” Klosterman said. “To squeeze out first when we really needed it was really fun to watch. And dropping seven seconds in the relay, I’m pretty sure that will get them a good seed at the state meet now. Very exciting.”
Webb City led Carl Junction by nearly 30 points with just four events remaining before the Bulldogs pulled off a surprise win in the 200 freestyle relay. Then Skyler Sundy gave the Bulldogs another boost by winning the 100 backstroke, with teammates Carsyn Smith taking third and Elyanna Dogotch finishing fifth.
That gave Carl Junction 237.5 points, and suddenly the Cardinals trailed by two-and-a-half.
Webb City’s Makenzie Storm took second in the 100 breaststroke, but Carl Junction swimmers finished third and fifth as the Bulldogs increased their lead to six-and-a-half with just one event remaining.
“Carl has got so much state-level power and I knew the only way we could do this was with depth and diving,” Klosterman said. “Diving’s always an advantage for us but our girls had zero experience before this year so getting ready for those dives by the time this one came around, it’s definitely amazing they got there.”
Webb City took the top three spots in the diving competition, with Mia Barone placing first, Keli Tollefson second and Breanna Woods third.
Even then, Klosterman had the meet scored dead even between Webb City and Carl Junction and started tracking who was out performing their seeds.
“It looked like Carl was out performing their seeds all the way up to about the 500 and then we had a shot,” he said. “Then they moved from fifth to first in the 200 free relay which was huge and then we kind of held on.”
“There were a lot of great swims here from every team,” he said. “I was keeping close track of Carl’s and they were making some big move ups and we were trying to match it the whole way. I didn’t expect that last relay to be what saved us.”
Besides the diving and the final 400 free relay, Webb City’s only other first-place finish came in the 500 freestyle, where Whitesell won with a time of 5:33.43 – nearly 16 seconds ahead of the second place swimmer.
The Cardinals finished second in the 200 medley relay, Whitesell was second in the 200 IM, Powell was third in the 100 freestyle, Makenzie Storm was second in the 100 breaststroke and Webb City’s 200 freestyle relay finished third.
Conference, pool records fall
Carl Junction won five events on Tuesday and broke several records in the process. It started with Skyler Sundy, Abigail Wilson, Chloe Miller and Alanza Montez winning the 200 medley relay in 1:54.83, which broke the COC meet and pool records set in 2019.
Miller set a new COC record when she won the 50 free in 25.17 seconds, and she broke the COC and pool record in the 100 free, too, with a time of 54.95 seconds. The pool record in that event had stood since 2010.
In the 100 backstroke, Sundy set a new COC and pool record with a time of 1:00.35.
Carl Junction also won the 200 free relay in 1:43.81.
“I knew that we weren’t going to have that last relay to win it,” Carl Junction coach Stephanie Miller said. “I set it up like that because I loaded the other two relays. We have to chase Webb after diving every year and they went 1-2-3 and we’re coming from behind. With no divers, to finish four-and-a-half points behind – this coach is thrilled, absolutely thrilled. The pool records set at this meet, they’ve got to go look at this COC and how fast it was today. It’s just phenomenal. I’m really proud and I love the girls from Webb. If we’re going to get beat they’re a good school and I’m happy for them, too.”
“The relays I can’t wait to take on to state,” she said. “I think that’s a good confidence builder. We’re ready to go at state. My daughter Chloe showed up in that 100, that was really nice. She still won the 50. Skyler in that 100 back, the pool records. I gave out more medals than I could count. I don’t know how many times I was up there. We were just a few points short.”
Carl Junction’s other medalists were Sundy (third) in the 50 free, Madeleine Garoutte (third) in the 100 butterfly, Carsyn Smith (third) in the 100 backstroke and Abigail Wilson (third) in the 100 breaststroke.
Carthage, Ozark also break records
Carthage’s Madison Riley set a new COC meet record in the 200 freestyle with a time of 2:01.69. Ozark’s Brooke Guyer then set a new COC record in the 200 IM with a time of 2:17.01.
Riley earned another COC meet record in the 100 butterfly with a time of 1:00.94.
Carthage’s other medalists were Ava Lacey (third) in the 200 freestyle and (third) in the 500 freestyle. The 200 relay of Cassidy Smith, Aubree Santillan, Hope Fultz and Riley took second, and the 400 relay of Riley, Smith, Fultz and Santillan took second.
Ozark’s other medalists were Jenabelle Justice (second) in the 100 butterfly and (second) in the 500 free, Guyer (second) in the 100 backstroke and the 400 free relay of Claire George, Katie Coleman, Justice and Guyer took second.
Nixa’s Aspyn Howard earned third in the 200 IM, Elie Turnbull was second in the 50 free, and Turnbull was second in the 100 free.
Republic’s Karissa Metzger took second in the 200 freestyle and won the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:11.00.
Joplin’s 200 medley relay of Sophia Schwartz, Emma Langer, Allie Lawrence and Lily Rakes took third.