Four in a row.
Connor Cupp and Jeremiah Bunce, along with a relay team, had first-place finishes Saturday to help lead Garden City High School’s boys’ swimming team to a team title at the Wichita West Invitational, the Buffaloes' fourth consecutive team win on the season.
The title, however, was definitely a team effort, as top-10 finishes by Buffaloes led to 25 medals and points toward the team title. Garden City scored 534 points in the meet, outdistancing second-place finisher Kapaun Mt. Carmel with 357.
“After a long break, we shook off the cobwebs with some good times,” GCHS coach Brian Watkins said. “The competition wasn’t what we expected — the threat of severe weather causing several teams to back out at the last minute. We still held our own and beat a very good Kapaun team.”
Cupp added a 6A state qualifying time to his victory in the 100-yard butterfly. He claimed the title with a time of 56.46 seconds.
In the 100-yard freestyle, Bunce continued his dominance with a first-place medal, swimming the course in 53.92 seconds.
The 200-yard freestyle relay team also claimed a victory with a time of 1:37.95. The team was made up of Devin Chappel, Bunce, Cupp and Kobe Otero.
In the 200-yard freestyle, Garden City’s Chappel placed third in the event with a time of 1:57.53 and also claimed a 6A state consideration time in the process. Otero grabbed a 6A state consideration time in the 200-yard IM with a time of 2:14.05, finishing third in the event. In the 50-yard freestyle, Brunce swam the event in 23.93 for third place, and Esai Morales finished fifth at 24.45. Both times are 6A state consideration times for the Buffaloes.
Two other 6A state consideration times for Garden City came in the 100-yard backstroke. Otero finished second with a time of 1:01.39, and Morales claimed third with a time of 1:02.60.
“We snatched up two new state consideration times — Devin Chappel in the 200 freestyle and Esai Morales in the 100 backstroke — along with several other time improvements,” Watkins said. “The varsity ended up cutting 100 seconds together (off their best times) on the day.”
Other top-10 individual performances, times and places for Garden City include:
200-yard freestyle: Joel Cotrarez, 2:07.25, fifth place; Brody Hoff, 2:18.56, sixth; Josh Snyder (junior varsity), 2:32.99, eighth.
200-yard IM: Alec Erskin, 2:46.10, fifth.
100-yard butterfly: Contrarez, 1:05.87, fourth; Erskin, 1:23.53, fifth.
100-yard freestyle: Chappel, 54.01, third; Nate Morren, 58.01, seventh; Alex DePaz (JV), 1:04.50, ninth.
500-yard freestyle: Hoff, 6:29.00, fifth; Rory James, 6:31.52, sixth; Emilio Arteaga, 7:06.92, seventh.
100-yard backstroke: Peter Hall, 1:10.70, fifth; Evan Gurrola (JV), 1:37.44, eighth; Josh Snyder (JV), 1:39.70, 10th.
100-yard breaststroke: Lane Durst, 1:15.41, fourth; R. James, 1:23.14, fifth; Rex Crotts (JV), 1:27.95, sixth.
“Brody Hoff and Esai Morales both had great meets, posting best marks in both their events as well as swimming in “A” relays, to score some important points for the team,” Watkins said. “Lane Durst also cut five seconds off on his 100 breaststroke. We’ve been waiting for him to break over the plateau and he did it in a big way. I think he still has a lot of room for improvement in the stroke as well.”
In the relay races, other top 10s for the Buffaloes include:
200-yard freestyle relay: Contrarrez, Durst, R. James and N.Morren, 1:51.58, fifth; DePaz, Jack Koerperich, Crotts and Carl Bors (JV), 2:02.73, eighth.
400-yard freestyle relay: Chappel, Morales, Contrarez and Hoff, 3:52.05, second; Arteaga, Ashton James, Hall and Erskin, 4:26.70, third; Snyder, DePaz, Gurrola and Bors (JV), 4:38.85, fifth.
200-yard medley relay: Otero, Bunce, Cupp, N. Morren, 1:50.15, second; Morales, Durst, Hall and R. James, 1:59.37, fifth; Gurrola, Crotts, Koerperich and Santiago Nunez (JV), 2:29.17, sixth.
“The freshman swimmers continue to inch toward automatic state qualifying times, and I think they will get them by the end of the season,” Watkins said. “Our JV team, GC Brown, also swam well and beat a varsity team at the meet.”
The Buffaloes will be back in action on Tuesday, when they travel to Hutchinson for a 3:30 p.m. meet.