By Brennan Stebbins (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
A season ago, the Webb City girls swim team pulled out a surprising win in the final relay to top Carl Junction for the Central Ozark Conference championship.
On Thursday, the Cardinals finished second in that final event – and they won another COC title in the process.
Webb City shook off a pair of disqualifications and went on to win three events as the Cardinals edged the Bulldogs by three points in the team standings in another close battle between the two rivals.
“It doesn’t get more dramatic than that,” Webb City coach Shawn Klosterman said.
“They swam incredibly well,” he said. “When you DQ the first relay, you could very easily see your team getting deflated and they just didn’t, they were still going for it. And then we had another DQ, a girl who would have been second in the 100 free got disqualified. That’s 39 points and I’m just glad they were troopers about it and kept fighting. It’s crazy how this meet seems to come down to the last relay a lot.”
Webb City had a nine-point advantage over Carl Junction with just the 400 free relay remaining, and the Cardinals had a better seed time by more than two seconds.
But Carl Junction used a blistering finish to win the event in 3:47.53, breaking the pool and meet record (3:51.44) in the process, and Webb City finished second in 3:48.26.
It resulted in a six-point gain for the Bulldogs, but that wasn’t enough to topple the Cardinals.
Sophia Whitesell provided a big highlight early for Webb City in winning the 200 IM in 2:16.93 to break the COC record of 2:17.01 set last year.
“She even went a little faster at the COMO (Invitational) but she trains out of her mind hard and she deserves every accolade she gets,” Klosterman said.
Kelli Tollefson (209.75) and Kiera McDonald (147.45) provided 29 points in the 1-meter diving by placing first and second, respectively, for the Cardinals.
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And Whitesell came up big again in winning the 500 freestyle in 5:34.12, more than 12 seconds ahead of second place.
Several other Cardinals earned a spot on the podium.
Norah Klosterman was third in the 200 freestyle and Camryn Klosterman was third in the 200 IM. Skylar Powell earned third in the 50 free. Avery Mitchell took third in the 100 free. Norah Klosterman placed second in the 500 free. Hally Philpot placed third in the 100 breaststroke.
Webb City’s 200 free relay was second with Powell, Alix Davis, Olivia Honey and Mitchell swimming.
And that 400 free relay that placed second consisted of Powell, Mitchell, Davis and Whitesell.
“Honestly there were so many good swims here,” Klosterman said. “You always look for opportunities to move up and we had some really big move ups. Just about every opportunity they jumped on and Carl was doing the same thing, just swimming lights out.”
“We just went to the COMO meet which is the fastest facility in the state and a great environment and for the kids to come back four days later and swim faster, that just blows my mind,” he said. “That tells me they were turning in very inspired swims, for sure.”
Carl Junction sets records in three events
When Bulldogs coach Stephanie Miller did the math, she figured her squad would lose by more than 20 points.
“So to be that close, we did amazing, just amazing,” she said.
Carl Junction came away with three event records in the process. First, Chloe Miller won the 50 free in 24.81 seconds to break the pool record (25.05) set in 2018 and the COC record (25.17) set last year.
Miller then swam the final leg of the 200 freestyle relay and combined with Madeleine Garoutte, Skyler Sundy and Elyanna Dogotch to win with a time of 1:43.19, breaking the pool and COC record of 1:43.53 set in 2021.
Finally, the same four teamed up to win the 400 freestyle relay and set meet and pool records in a third event.
Miller also won the 100 freestyle (55.28) and Sundy won the 100 backstroke (101.47).
“We’ve been working on those relay exchanges,” Stephanie Miller said. “They just did great today. Abby Holcomb is a senior and she went from the second-to-last heat to fourth in the breaststroke. I had a lot of depth and that showed up, too. At the end of this you’ve just got to go look at it and see where it all came from because it’s everywhere. I had a freshman score in the 500 (Lilian Schultz), she got 12th and that’s just awesome.
“Swimming against Webb City – since we practice here we have such a great relationship and seeing them do well is fun and I bet Webb City’s relay was faster because our relay was faster and everybody wins,” she said. “It’s a great thing.”
Other medalists for the Bulldogs included Kennedy Johnson, Abigail Holcomb, Sophia Holcomb and Sydney Ward, who took third in the 200 medley relay. Garoutte was second in the 200 IM, Sundy took second in the 50 free and Garoutte was second in the 100 butterfly.
Carthage relay breaks school record
Thursday’s meet got off to a great start for Carthage, which opened with a first-place finish and new school record in the 200-yard medley relay. Aubree Santillan, Olivia Manning, Madison Riley and Kamryn Dininger finished in 1:56.44.
The record hadn’t been around long – last year’s relay set the new mark before graduating two seniors. Manning and Dininger, both freshmen, are the new additions.
Riley then followed that up with a first-place finish in the 200 freestyle (1:57.33) and broke a pool record dating to 1984 (2:01.00) and her own COC record from last year (2:01.69).
Riley wasn’t done – she also broke records while winning the 100 butterfly in 58.79 seconds. That broke a 2018 pool record (1:00.02) and her own COC record from last year (1:00.94).
Manning got back on the podium after winning the 100 breaststroke in 1:13.05.
Santillan medaled with a third-place showing in the backstroke. And the 200 free relay of Riley, Santillan, Manning and Joey Hettinger finished third.
“Everybody knows this pool is not really fast, and they threw up a lot of great times today like personal bests,” Carthage coach Braden McBride said. “For Madison to go as fast as she did, her training’s on the right track. We’re happy with how she’s developing.”
“Olivia Manning was seeded second in the breaststroke and ended up winning,” McBride said. “For a freshman to be a COC champion in the breaststroke, it shows she’s got a bright future.”
Ozark, Nixa medal in seven events
Ozark, which finished third in the team standings, came away with medalists in five events on Thursday.
Katie Coleman, Brooke Guyer, Jenabelle Justice and Grace Shaw placed second in the 200 medley relay, Guyer was second in the 200 freestyle and Guyer was second in the 100 backstroke.
Her time of 1:59.87 in the 200 free was good enough to break the 1984 pool record and last year’s COC meet record – but Carthage’s Madison Riley finished first.
The Tigers also benefited from Lydia Ruby’s third-place performance in the 500, and the 400 free relay team’s third-place finish with Ruby, Laura Pinzon Torres, Coleman and Guyer swimming.
For Nixa, Aspyn Howard earned second in the 100 free and the 100 breaststroke.
Webb City 269
Carl Junction 266