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The Kansas City Blazers swim club has been loaded with tradition for more than three decades.

Bismarck got to see first hand how talented the club from Kansas and Missouri really is.

The Blazers ran away with the women's and men's team titles Sunday at the USA Central Zone senior championships.

The women's team amassed 1,006 points at the Bismarck State College Aquatic and Wellness Center. South Metro Storm of Minnesota was second with 239. The Kansas City men's squad totaled 736 points, which was 500 points better than Northern Lights of Kansas-Missouri and Sioux Falls (S.D.) Snowfox.

The club runs in five different sites. Coach Mike Lewellyn, who is the head coach of the Missouri side, said consistency in coaching is one of the mainstays in keeping the program successful.

"We look to bring in coaches who believe in the same things we believe in," he said. "Our program has established visions and values that we make sure the candidates believe in. If a baseball team is built around hitting home runs, and you bring in a manager whose design is to play small ball, you're screwed."

Peter D. Malone founded the program in 1975 and retired just more than a month ago.

Since the program was founded, the Blazers have put five swimmers on Olympic teams.

Three of those swimmers earned gold medals. Catherine Fox won two golds at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta (4x100 relay, 4x100 medley relay). Janie Wagstaff won a gold medal at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona (4x100 relay). Scott Goldblatt won gold at the 2004 Olympics in Athens (4x200 relay).

"They were all kids who grew up in our program," Lewellyn said. "They started off as 6-, 7-, 8-year-olds. Having the same coach for all those years is a huge feature because the philosophy doesn't change."

The Blazers also went through a streak of 32 straight years where a swimmer from their program finished in the top eight at the national championships.

"You have to find coaches who believe in the long-term development of children," Lewellyn said. "Swimming to us is a vehicle to teach important life skills. You teach kids to be responsible for the choices they make. You teach that they have the freedom to make choices, and then you teach them that there is a value to the results of quality work."

Kansas City brought 26 competitors along to Bismarck. In all, the program fields 550 swimmers, which is about what all of North Dakota fields.

"Our goal was to come here, swim fast and win," Lewellyn said. "Had there been 430 kids here we would have been just as focused as we are."

Lewellyn, who has been on staff since 1987 and labeled himself as a "swimming geek," praised Bismarck's new swimming facility.

"They have done the things they need to do to have a really good facility," Lewellyn said. "The pool construction is really good. The deck space is excellent. There's plenty of places for swimmers to sit and rest between races. There's a separate warming up and warming down facility.

"In some ways it's a little barebones, but there's nothing here that's going to stop a kid that wants to go to the national meet. I hope we get to come back."

Lewellyn also praised the job Bismarck has done with its swim club.

"They have got some coaches here who really know their business," Lewellyn said. "They are doing the best they can with a limited number of bodies. The guys have the ability to grow fast swimmers."

The Bismarck AquaStorm women finished in fourth place with 144 points.

The AquaStorm 400 medley relay placed third in 4:44.13. Cassandra Walth finished fifth in the 50 freestyle in 27.97 while teammate Lydia Engberg was eighth in 28.65.

The AquaStorm men finished in fifth with 155 points.

The AquaStorm 400 medley relay team finished in seventh place (4:19.87).

Joshua Riepl of the AquaStorm finished eighth in the 50 freestyle in 25.40. Teammate Ian Ballantyne was 17th (25.42) and Thomas Stromme 23rd (26.50).

Ballantyne placed 10th in the 200 individual medley (2:17.09) while teammate Dylan Sether finished 12th (2:19.08).

Former Fargo South swimmer Benjamin Griggs won the 50 freestyle in 23.73 while competing for Northern Lights of Minnesota.


Team scores

1. Kansas City (Kan.-Mo.) Blazers 1,006. 2. South Metro Storm Swim Club (Minn.) 239. 3. South East Metro Sharks Swim Club (Minn.) 206. 4. Bismarck AquaStorm 166. 5. Northland United Swim Team (Kan.-Mo.) 146. 6. Team Foxjet (Minn.) 113. 7. Aberdeen (S.D.) 106. 8. Lawrence (Kan.) Aquahawks 97. 9. Brookings (S.D.) Swim Club 64. 10. Glenview (Ill.) Titan Aquatic Club 51. 11. Topeka (Kan.) Swim Association 37. 12. Wichita (Kan.) Swim Club 35. 13. Plymouth (Minn.) Swim Team 30.

Individual results

400 medley relay

1. KCB A (Hannah Angell, Margaux Kent, Natalie Morris, Marston Fries), 4:29.74. KCB B, 4:38.33. 3. Bismarck AquaStorm, 4:44.13. 4. Northland United, 4:45.23. 5. SE Metro, 4:46.88. 6. South Metro Storm, 4:47.60.

200 IM

1. Ellen Suek, Team Foxjet, 2:25.88. 2. Marston Fries, KCB, 2:26.28. 3. Natalie Lugg, SE Metro, 2:29.14. 4. Emily Campbell, Aberdeen, 2:29.50. 5. Natalie Morris, KCB, 2:30.71. 6. Hannah Angell, KCB, 2:32.26. 7. Reese Grabill, Lawrence, 2:36.01. 8. Margaux Kent, KCB, 2:37.97.

1,500 freestyle

1. Mackenna Rife, KCB, 17:46.47. 2. Heather Snyder, KCB, 17:46.99. 3. Amelia Davis, KCB, 17:59.07. 4. Samantha Brennan, KCB, 18:04.97. 5. Mackenzie Braden, Team Foxjet, 18:15.76. 6. Samantha Fossum, Brookings, 18:22.07. 7. Kaela Ropson, KCB, 18:22.15. 8. Marjorie Metz, Topeka, 18:31.72.

50 freestyle

1. Stacey Rudman, Lawrence, 26.93. 2. Mikayla Mayer, SE Metro, 27.10. 3. Mary Kilgore, Wichita, 27.23. 4. Marston Fries, KCB, 27.41. 5. Cassandra Walth, Bismarck AquaStorm, 27.97. 6. Kate Snyder, KCB, 28.06. 7. Shannon Myer, Northland, 28.11. 8. Lydia Engberg, Bismarck AquaStorm, 28.65.


Team scores

1. KCB 736. 2. (tie) Northern Lights and Sioux Falls (S.D.) Snowfox 236. 4. South Metro Storm 159. 5. Bismarck AquaStorm 155. 6. Black Dog Swimming (Minn.) 147. 7. Pierre (S.D.) Swim Team 124. 8. South East Metro Sharks 103. 9. Pacesetter Aquatics (Ind.) 84. 10. Rapid City (S.D.) Racers 82. 11. Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Aquatic 80. 12. Waukesha (Wis.) Express Swim Team 79. 13. Topeka 78. 14. Heart of America Swim Club 62. 15. Aberdeen 61. 16. Leaning Tower YMCA Shark Swim Team (Ill.) 51. 17. Glenview Titan 41. 18. Team Foxjet 39. 19. Council Bluffs (Iowa) Swim Club 32. 20. Decatur (Ill.) Swim Club 28.

21. Alligator Aquatics (Ill.) 26. 22. Des Plaines (Ill.) River Racers 23. 23. Star Swim Team (Minn.) 11. 24. Clayton Shaw Park Tideriders (Mo.) 4.

Individual results

400 medley relay

1. KCB A (Christopher Hearl, Michael Glenn, Jesse Musser, Matthew Martin), 4:05.66. 2. Black Dog, 4:06.33. 3. Sioux Falls, 4:09.68. 4. Northern Lights, 4:10.77. 5. KCB B, 4:16.45. 6. Pierre, 4:18.53. 7. Bismarck AquaStorm, 4:19.87. 8. South Metro Storm, 4:28.34.

200 IM

1. Chris Carpenter, Topeka, 2:10.13. 2. Tyler Nichols, Heart of America, 2:14.98. 3. Michael Glenn, KCB, 2:15.34. 4. Konner Scott, Leaning Tower, 2:15.82. 5. Jesse Musser, KCB, 2:16.15. 6. Matthew Boyd, Unattached, 2:16.59. 7. Quillan Oak, Northern Lights, 2:17.64. 8. Zachary Johnson, Sioux Falls, 2:20.30.

10. Ian Ballantyne, Bismarck AquaStorm, 2:17.09. 12. Dylan Sether, Bismarck AquaStorm, 2:19.08.

1,500 freestyle

1. Brian Gorman, Rapid City, 16:33.67. 2. James Foster, KCB, 16:45.57. 3. Max Evansnolan, Waukesha, 17:02.64. 4. Robert Ramoska, Des Plaines, 17:09.24. 5. Adam Kastigar, Aberdeen, 17:11.25. 6. John Faulkenberry, KCB, 17:12.05. 7. Morgan Barnes, Cedar Rapids, 17:13.76. 8. Benjamin Kurz, Council Bluffs, 17:14.68.

50 freestyle

1. Benjamin Griggs, Northern Lights, 23.73. 2. Conor Murphy, Unattached, 24.16. 3. Lucas Kuriga, Waukesha, 24.85. 4. Marcus Christianson, Pierre, 24.94. 5. Chris Carpenter, Topeka, 25.02. 6. Eric Moore, Sioux Falls, 25.09. 7. Joseph Rasmus, Northern Lights, 25.12. 8. Joshua Riepl, Bismarck AquaStorm, 25.40.

17. Ian Ballantyne, Bismarck AquaStorm, 25.42. 23. Thomas Stromme, Bismarck AquaStorm, 26.50.

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