Shawnee Mission East’s boys swim and dive team will begin their quest for a third-straight state title tonight as it hosts Olathe East.
Wiley Wright, who enters his 32nd season as the Lancers head coach, hopes to continue the tradition of doing well during the season as well as at league and state.
Today’s meet, for Wright, will give him a sense of what kind of talent he has with his freshman and sophomores so they can mix with the varsity. There are 17 seniors on this team, but Wright said there aren’t any superstars.
“We had only one state titlist last year,” Wright said. “We were third in all of our relays. It will be more team than individuals.”
Senior Christian Hense is hoping to end his final season as a champion. He said the Lancers are a strong, diverse team who should contend once again.
“I think the legacy that all the older boys have put through the season and through the season in general,” Hense said of continuing the tradition. “I know our coaches have 30-plus years of experience and that really relates to the fact we want to swim and work hard for him. Both of our coaches — Colby (Dischinger) and Wiley — both set a unique example for us. They are so good; they keep us wanting us to come back. They want us to do the best we can. I really like that.”
Hense’s top events are the 200-yard individual medley and the 100-yard fly. He placed in the top eight in the IM and top 12 in the fly. His goal this season is to earn a spot on the all-state second team, but would really love to make first team.
Hense, whose triplet brothers Aidan and Bennett are also on the team, said coming off of year-round season as well as the diversity on this team, will push him to be a better swimmer.
“I think it puts a competitive edge to our team,” Hense said. “I would say 17 out of the 21 varsity swimmers do year round. It adds to the fact we push ourselves and we’re dedicated to the sport. I think it does try to push us on top, and I like that aspect.”
Hense along with the other Lancers will try to qualify early, but Wright said it really doesn’t mean anything this early in the season.
“It doesn’t mean anything until toward the end where then you can maneuver kids,” Wright said. “If they have multiple entries at state, then you can shuffle kids around that will both benefit the team, but also them as individuals.”
His expectations for this season are the same as they are every year: be top three in the Sunflower League and top three at state.
The biggest challengers to the Lancers Wiley thinks will be Blue Valley North as well as Olathe East and Free State.
SM East will be trying for its 15th state title in program history. The Lancers have won league 30 times including the past 13 years.
“The kids want to be able to continue the success they’ve had in the past,” Wiley said. “They want to keep that tradition going.”