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Nebraska swimming: Junior Jays return to the top, Crusaders, Warriors share girls title

Prep claims 22nd team swimming title

By Nathan Charles 

Feature photo: Omaha Marian swimmers and coaches mark the moment together on top the podium as co-champions with Omaha Westside at the 2023 girls state swimming championships on Saturday in Lincoln. Photo Credit: @nsaahome Twitter.

The Creighton Prep boys were forced to settle for close finishes each of the past two years following 14 years in a row of state titles. The Junior Jays returned to the top on Saturday at the Devaney Center in Lincoln thanks to gold medals in two individual events and two more in relays. Will Clark and Henry Dvorak won individual golds while the 200-yard medley and 200 freestyle relay also brought in victories.

In the girls meet, Omaha Westside and Omaha Marian made history as co-champs for the fourth time in Nebraska history. For the second time it came in the girls championship. Marian and Lincoln Southeast both scored 186 team points and shared the 1982 girls title. The boys have produced shared champs in 1942 (Lincoln High and Omaha Technical) and in 1966 (Westside and Southeast).

Westside led Marian 305-299 after the second-to-last event, the 100-yard breaststroke. The Crusaders were the heavy favorites to win the final even, the 400 relay. They lived up to those expectations by hitting the wall first by more than two seconds. Marian needed a runner-up finish to secure a shared title. Sophomore Piper Hagen anchored the group to second ahead of Southeast by more than five seconds and made the rare co-championship a reality.

Girls champions included Marian’s Josie Hood taking gold in the 200 free and 100 free, Molly Von Saggern winning the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke, Hagen in the 200 individual medley, Kate Stevens of Westside in the 50 free, Alaira Hadford of Marian in the 500 free and Ella Petrick of Millard North in the 100 breastroke.

Von Seggern, Petrick, Shirya Samanta and Mimi Mcleay delivered the Mustangs a win in the 200 medley relay. Meredith Peyton, Easton Glandt, Lauren Mendlick and Hood combined to win the 200 free relay. Peyton, Hadford, Hood and Katy Foley hit the line first in the 400 free relay.

Boys golds went to Nate Germonprez of Westside in the 200 free and the 100 free, Clark of Prep in the individual medley, Greg Wehbe of Elkhorn/Elkhorn North/Elkhorn South in the 50 free, Prep’s Dvorak in the 100 butterfly, Millard North’s Kalvin Hahn in the 500 free and 100 breast and Aidin Kolb of Lincoln Southwest in the 100 back.

Prep scored gold in the 200 medley relay behind Clark, Dvorak, Drayton Beber and Thomas Nissen. Dvorak, Beber, Nissen and John Watson gave the Junior Jays the 200 free relay gold. Wehbe anchored the combined Elkhorn teams to 400 free relay gold with teammates Ryan Mayo, Jacob Horner and Blake Forsberg.

Prep had won 14 titles in a row until Southwest edged out the Junior Jays two years ago by 5.5 points and last year by 12.5. Four Prep wins made it a runaway this time. A total of 423.5 points was the fifth-highest in state meet history and nearly 150 more than Elkhorn/Elkhorn South/Elkhorn North in second.

Germonprez successfully defended his title in the 200 free and ends his career as the state record holder in that event and the 100 free. He has five state golds in his career.

Hahn will graduate with 11 total state medals that includes his first two golds on Saturday to go with two career silvers.

Dvorak has won seven state medals the past two years and was the only boys swimmer to collect three golds on Saturay.

For the girls, Von Seggern ended her varsity career with 15 total state medals – eight of the gold variety. Hood closes out her high school time with 12 medals, 10 golds including four in individual events and six in relays.