Poplar Bluff swims it way to a TEAM title

Poplar Bluff swimmer Morgyn McCain readies for the start of the 100 free race during the SEMO Conference Girl's Swim Meet Tuesday at the Central Municipal Pool.
Ben Matthews ~ Southeast Missourian

It was only fitting that the Poplar Bluff girl’s swim team didn’t dominate the SEMO Conference Meet Tuesday at the Central Municipal Pool on an individual basis. That is because, within the Mule program, the individual takes a backseat to the team daily.

The Mules won the meet with 522 points over Cape Central (462), Notre Dame (365), Jackson (253), Saxony Lutheran (138), and Farmington (133).

“This is a really special team,” veteran coach Beth Lewis-Muse said. “They really work well together. They are all great friends. There is a chemistry here that you don’t see from year to year when you have teams.”

The Mules won just one event, while the Tigers took home six individual titles, plus all three relays – and lost.

From day one, Lewis-Muse preached versatility in her swimmers, which is an unusual approach. However, it paid off with strong swims by almost every Mule competitor in a myriad of events.

“We concentrated on diversity,” Lewis-Muse said of her training schedule. “We worked on their confidence and self-esteem.”

The Poplar Bluff swimmers trained in all the varied strokes and all the different distances, which allowed them to compete in a big meet like Tuesday with confidence no matter the race in which Lewis-Muse entered them.

“We wanted them to be able to swim anything from event one to event 12,” Lewis-Muse said. “Obviously, not everyone can do diving, but…”

Wait, Paige Bradley can.

The Mule senior not only took second in diving to Jackson sophomore Hadley Wyatt, but she also earned a state-qualifying time (25.09) in winning the 50 free.

“We just wanted them to believe that they could get into the pool and swim anything that is needed for their teammates,” Lewis-Muse said.

Bradley set a new conference record and school record in diving with her score of 439.55 (she held the old mark of 415.40). However, the 2018 conference winner fell to the now two-time champion Wyatt, who set a new conference mark with a score of 448.30.

“She dove consistently,” Jackson diving coach Delbert Marriott said of Wyatt. “She was aggressive on the dives that she wanted to be aggressive on and she was graceful on the dives that she needed to be graceful on.”

Marriott explained that both Wyatt and Bradley only “missed on one dive all day,” which set for a battle down the stretch.

Wyatt nailed a reverse dive late in her round, but then really hit an incredibly difficult 2 ˝ (flip), which has a very high degree of difficulty (2.4).

“She is probably only one of two divers doing that dive in the state,” Marriott said. “That is a tough dive.”

Cape swimmers were strong all meet, but none more so than junior Grace Sanders and the meet’s Most Valuable Swimmer, Bella Dennis.

Sanders was on the winning 200 and 400 free relay squads and took the top spot in the 200 free and 500 free races.

The sophomore Dennis was also on the 200 free relay, as well as the winning 200 medley relay team, and individually won the 100 breast and 200 IM events.

She earned a state-qualifying time (1:09.71) in the 100 breast.

“I learned from my team,” veteran Tiger coach Dayna Powell said, “that they definitely are not quitters.”

Cape trailed Poplar Bluff midway through the meet but tightened the margin to the end of the meet.

“We had some holes in our lineup and it showed,” Powell said. “But the girls didn’t quit, so I was really happy with that.”

Powell was also glad for Lewis-Muse and her team, which won just the second conference title in program history (2016 being the other).

“I’ve watched Poplar Bluff all season,” Powell said, “and their coaches have done a great job. It’s fun to see a team get to meet their goals.”

Notre Dame had one individual winner in sophomore Lexi Jansen, who won the 100 fly in 1:03.35.

Top swim results

Team scores

Poplar Bluff 522, Cape Central 462, Notre Dame 365, Jackson 253, Saxony Lutheran 138, Farmington 133

50 Freestyle

1. Paige Bradley (PB) 25.09; 2. Lauren Lamar (CC) 25.48; 3. Daley Drum (CC) 27.23

100 Freestyle

1. Lamar (CC) 54.86; 2. Ava Duncan (CC) 57.24; 3. Jane West (ND) 58.33

200 Freestyle

1. Grace Sanders (CC) 2:02.12; 2. Lexi Jansen (ND) 2:04.08; 3. Savanna Spencer (SL) 2:04.95

500 Freestyle

1. Sanders (CC) 5:41.53; 2. Dawson Tally (J) 5:57.74; 3. Abby Jansen (ND) 5:57.95

100 Backstroke

1. Duncan (CC) 1:02.45; 2. Spencer (SL) 1:04.32; 3. Madelyn Harris (J) 1:05.63

100 Butterfly

1. L. Jansen (ND) 1:03.35; 2. Harris (J) 1:03.99; 3. Lauren Jauch (CC) 1:05.88

100 Breaststroke

1. Bella Dennis (CC) 1:09.71; 2. Courtney Huckabee (J) 1:12.08; Delaney Langenstein (ND) 1:15.77

200 Individual Medley

1. Dennis (CC) 2:19.24; 2. Huckabee (J) 2:22.93; 3. Paige Elder (CC) 2:32.60

1-meterr Diving

1. Hadley Wyatt (J) 448.30; 2. Bradley (PB) 439.55; 3. Bayley Thompson (SL) 366.00

200 Freestyle Relay

1. Cape Central (Dennis, Jauch, Lamar, Sanders) 1:44.58; 2. Poplar Bluff (Gabrielle Fortner, Audrey Cisne, Olivia Kirkman, Bradley) 1:46.10; 3. Notre Dame (West, Allie Buchheit, Abby Jansen, L. Jansen) 1:48.07

400 Freestyle Relay

1. Cape Central (Sanders, Olivia Koenig, Duncan, Lamar) 3:54.76; 2. Poplar Bluff (Kirkman, Kacey Gregory, Audrey Rahlmann, Fortner) 4:03.59; 3. Notre Dame (Grace Landewee, Buchheit, Alessandra Rubi, Langenstein) 4:22.13

200 Medley Relay

1. Cape Central (Duncan, Dennis, Jauch, Lana Woolard) 1:57.97; 2. Notre Dame (West, Langenstein, L. Jansen, A. Jansen) 1:58.65; 3. Poplar Bluff (Cisne, Simone Anders, Bradley, Rahlmann) 2:00.81

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