In final tune-up before league meet, Buffs shine
Garden City High School boys’ swimming coach Brian Watkins might well have been looking into his crystal ball on Thursday when the Buffaloes hosted Western Athletic Conference opponents Great Bend, Liberal and Dodge City at the Garden City Family YMCA Pool. Only Hays was missing from the meet.
One week before the WAC Championship at Great Bend (Feb. 11), the Buffs were once again dominant against their league foes, winning 9 of the 12 events and finishing with 420 points, well ahead of runner-up Great Bend’s 318. Liberal was third with 253 and Dodge City fourth with 158 points.
The meet also celebrated Senior Night for several of the Buffs’ top swimmers, a group that were part of the first GCHS boys team when it was resurrected in 2018. In that brief period of time, the Buffs have finished third (2018) and won the most recent two (2019 and 2020).
“We really wanted to hit some decent times so we could relax and have a fun meet next week,” Watkins said. “We accomplished that goal for the most part.”
Highlighting the meet were personal bests by Kobe Otero, Devin Chappel and Connor Cupp. Otero got his in the 100-yard freestyle (50.93), Chappel in the 200- (1:52.13) and 100-yard freestyle (50.90), and Cupp in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:04.78). The team (Jeremiah Bunce, Chappel, Cupp and Esai Morales) also had a PR in the 200-yard freestyle relay (1:49.08).
“The 100 breast swim by Connor was very unexpected,” Watkins said. “He looked as though he was swimming alone literally 25 yards ahead of the second-place swimmer, but still managed to dig deep and swim his fastest time ever. The look on his face when saw the time on the board made the Senior Night special for the entire team.”
Watkins said that there is still a sense that the team has yet to reach its potential, probably due to the fact there was little practice and no competition in November and December due to the COVID-19 restrictions in place by USD 457.
“It still feels like we are shaking off some cobwebs in certain areas of our strokes,” Watkins said. “We have a deep sense of urgency at this point with state being two weeks from Friday. I hope we can get the boys to relax a little and work on getting some fine tuning done in practice.”
Still, Watkins remains optimistic about the next two weeks.
“The upside to this feeling is I think we still have a lot better times left in the tank,” Watkins said. “We want to end the campaign on a high note.”
Garden City Inv. Quad
Team Scores: 1. Garden City, 420; 2. Great Bend, 318; 3. Liberal, 253; 4. Dodge City, 158.
Garden City Results
200y medley relay—1. Morales, Kobe Otero, Cupp, Bunce, 1:44.61; 2. Kaleb Otero, Hoff, Erskin, Gurrola, 2:04.46.
200y freestyle—1. Chappel, 1:52.13.
200y individual medley—2. Bunce, 2:24.58; 3. Erskin, 2:25.99.
50y freestyle—1. Morales, 23.71.
200y butterfly—1. Cupp, 56.18; 3. Hoff, 1:10.52.
100y freestyle—1. Chappel, 50.90; 2. Kobe Otero, 50.93.
200y freestyle relay—1. Bunce, Chappel, Cupp, Morales, 1:33.77; 2. Ortiz, Gurrola, A. James, Kaleb Otero, 1:49.08.
100y backstroke—1. Kobe Otero, 58.03; 2. Erskin, 1:09.20.
100y breaststroke—1. Cupp, 1:04.78; 2. Hoff, 1:17.50; 3. A. James, 1:20.31.
400y freestyle relay—1. Chappel, Morales, Kaleb Otero, Kobe Otero, 3:38.61.