Meet records fall as Carthage claims COC swimming championship


By Brennan Stebbins (For

With the first conference championship in program history almost in hand, Carthage’s boys swim team ended the day on a high note Tuesday in Webb City.

Braxton McBride, Eli Cox, Kellen Frieling and William Wright teamed up to win the 400-yard freestyle relay – the final event of the competition – in 3:33.46, breaking a three-year-old Central Ozark Conference record in the process.

It was an emphatic finish for the Tigers, who piled up 287 points and finished more than 50 points ahead of second-place Webb City.

“This is just a great group of young men,” Carthage coach Braden McBride said. “We have 20 guys out on the team and nearly all of them scored tonight. We just have a good mix of different strokes. We thought this was a possibility but then we had a couple injuries and Webb City had a couple things that didn’t go their way, either. We’re really happy, this is our first conference championship in school history so we’re pretty excited.”

Carthage only won three of the 12 events on Tuesday but showed off its depth in multiple events. McBride said the Tigers scored a lot of points in the 500, individual medley and butterfly, events “nobody really wants to swim.”

Carthage, however, scored four swimmers in the top 12 in all three. Wright (4th), Will Wallace (5th), Noah Blackford (9th) and Ryan Steinbach (10th) combined for 28 points in the IM. Cox (3rd), Landon White (6th), Trey Nye (7th) and Angel Guzman (11th) scored 30 in the fly. In the 500, Wright (3rd), Wallace (4th), Nye (9th) and Ben Rogers (11th) added 29 more.

The Tigers got off to a quick start, too, winning the 200 medley relay to open the day with Frieling, McBride, Wright and Cox finishing in 1:46.94, a state consideration time.

Braxton McBride, who was seeded second, won the 50 freestyle in 23.63 seconds with another state consideration time. And then Carthage capped the day with the win in the 400 free relay.

“It’s just been one of the funnest years I’ve ever had coaching a group of kids,” McBride said. “It’s not just because we’re having success, it’s a good group of guys. They love hanging out with each other. We’ve been talking all year about how we’re the swim family, not the swim team, and it really showed today.”


Beyond the three first-place finishes, Carthage had several others finish in the top three to earn a medal. Frieling was second in the 200 free, Cox was third in the 100 fly, McBride was third in the 100 free, Wright was third in the 500 free, Frieling was second in the 100 backstroke and Maveric Allphin was third in the 100 breaststroke.

Webb City’s bid to repeat falls short

Last year’s champions came away with one first-place finish and managed a comfortable finish over Joplin for second place.

For the Cardinals, Micah Brouwer won the 100 breaststroke with a state consideration time of 1:04.94 and Webb City added five other medalists.

“Performance-wise our boys absolutely lit it up,” said coach Shawn Klosterman. “They put up as much of a fight as they could. We started with a couple of unfortunate things that set us back, a relay DQ and a diver got a concussion, but the guys were still convinced they had a shot and they swam like it. I think almost every single swim they moved up at least one spot and some of them I thought they’d move up one and they moved up four or five spots. I couldn’t have asked for better swims, Carthage is just loaded. This is one of those years where they are hard to beat.”

Steve Kenlee took third in the 200 free, Brouwer was third in the 200 IM, Emiliano Vasquez was third in the 50 free, Maddox Wood placed second in the diving and the 200 relay took second with Vasquez, Kenlee, Aiden Patterson and Cody Herndon swimming.

In individual events, the Cardinals scored 27 points in the 200 free and 26 in the 50 free. Kenlee (3rd), Patterson (7th), Adrien Black (8th) and Lucas Lowery (10th) swam the 200, while Vasquez (3rd), Herndon (4th) and Logan Ragsdale (10th) swam the 50.

Several conference, pool records fall

Nixa swimmers won five events and medaled in seven, and the Eagles set two new COC records in the process.

Kai Brownlee won the 100 freestyle in 50.24 seconds, breaking a meet record set in 2019. Then, in the 200 free relay, Nixa’s team of Gavin Jessen, Quinn Cates, Ethan Gordon and Brownlee won in 1:38.71 to break another 2019 meet record.

Nixa’s other wins came in the 200 free, with Jessen winning in 1:55.39; the diving, where Finnley Bertholdi scored 342.60 points; and the 100 backstroke, which Brownlee won in 56.56 seconds.

The Eagles had two other medalists: Ethan Gordon was second in the 100 butterfly and Jessen, Gordon, Cates and Brownlee took third in the 400 free relay.

Ozark, meanwhile, broke two records on the day. In the 200 IM, Graham Eisenmann won in 2:02.26 seconds to break a pool record dating back to 2014. Then, in the 500 free, Eisenmann won in 4:57.07 to break a COC record he set last year.

The Tigers had two other medalists: the 200 medley relay team of Brent Taylor, Isaac Jenkins, Logan Harris and Brett Rushing finished third, and the 200 free relay of Aidan Pate, Rushing, Taylor and Eisenmann also placed third.

Republic’s Brady Lewis won the 100 butterfly in 57.41 seconds to break a COC record from 2020. He also placed third in the 100 backstroke to earn another medal.

Joplin had seven medalists on Tuesday, all with second-place finishes: the 200 medley relay of Parker Hinman, Nathan Wardlow, Ian Vermillion and Zane Newman, Wardlow in the 200 IM, Newman in the 50 free, Newman in the 100 free, Wardlow in the 500 free, Jackson Mordica in the 100 breaststroke, and the 400 relay of Newman, Vermillion, Hinman and Wardlow.

Team scores

Carthage 287
Webb City 234
Joplin 193
Ozark 168
Nixa 167
Republic 42

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