by Michael Smith
Grain Valley boys swimming coach Kara Liddle was elated at how far her program has come since it started in 2018.
That was apparent at Saturday’s Suburban White Conference Meet at Belton High School.
The Eagles had their best finish at the meet in their four-year history, taking second with 349 points. Raytown took first with 570 points.
The highlight for Grain Valley was its 400 and 200 freestyle relay teams. The foursome of Evan Reich, Riley Fangman, Tom Fligg and Issac Burd broke the school record in both events.
In the 200 free relay, the Eagles took second with a time of 1:40.07. In the 400 free, the quartet also took second at 3:38.17, a team that may be good enough to qualify them for state.
“I am so proud of them.” Liddle said. “As of right now it looks like we are going to state this year. Everyone had a drop in time, and everyone made it to finals. They have worked so hard this year. They accomplished everything I thought they could.”
Fangman noted that the relay teams have taken a big leap since the program first started.
“Our drive to win has only gotten more and more powerful,” Fangman said. “We’ve been working on that.
“We’re optimistic that we are going to make it (to state).”
Added Reich: “We set those records my freshman year. Our team has changed and grown, and we are all faster individually as a team. It’s been really awesome.”
The Eagles also fared well in their individual events.
Fangman took second in the 100 butterfly at 1:02.21, and was third in the 200 individual medley with a time of 2:29.79.
“I swam the best I could. I swam with all my strength. I am very pleased,” Fangman said. “I got some personal records tonight.”
Reich was third in the 200 free (1:59.37) and third in the 100 free (53.59 seconds).
“I got state consideration times in both events for the first time in my career,” Reich said. “It’s my junior year, I have another year to get state times.”
Burd finished third in the 50 free (23.02 seconds) and second in the 100 free (51.31 seconds). Kollin Hansuld won the diving competition the Saturday prior with a score of 392.65.
“Every year, the program keeps getting better and better,” Liddle said. “It’s been more than I could dream for. I am so happy for them.”
Left to Right: Riley Fangman, Issac Burd, head boys swimming coach Kara Liddle, Evan Reich and Tom Fligg pose for a photo after Grain Valley took second at the Suburban White Conference meet Saturday at Belton High School. Photo credit: Michael Smith