MARYVILLE, Mo. — The Maryville Sharks continued its season-long dominance last Wednesday at the Maryville Aquatic Center against Tarkio and East Mills (Iowa). The Sharks won 68 out of 70 total races.
The boys’ 13-14 age group was one of the most impressive divisions with a sweep of all the first-place finishes in the division despite swimming without one of its top performers Nino Coniglio. Coniglio was forced to sit out the meet with an injury, but two of his best friends — Jaxson Staples and Austin David — made sure that the Sharks didn’t miss a beat.
The group of 14-year-old boys have been spending their summers together swimming for years now and they have grown to be very good friends, even if they tend to be each other’s greatest competition in the pool.
“We try to keep each other’s pace up and we all try to race against each other every time to get better,” David said. “When we are done, we just shake hands and say ‘good job.’ That is pretty much all it is.”
David started the meet fast with a victory in the 50-meter backstroke before Staples won both the 50-meter breaststroke and the 50-meter butterfly — an event Coniglio set the program record in the week prior.
The back-and-forth continued with David winning the 50-meter freestyle, but Staples secured bragging rights for the week with a victory in day’s final race, the 100-meter freestyle.
“It is just pretty much a race between me, Nino and Jaxson every single time,” David said.
Coniglio, David and Staples all have competed for different club teams during their careers in the pool, but they agree that there is just something special about swimming with their friends for the Sharks each summer.
“It is really fun, just being together all the time,” Staples said. “When I went to the winter (swim team), I felt like I had to find friends, but here I already have them.”
Bailey Farnan, Grace Wright, William Sheil and Cora Feich came away Wednesday’s meet as the only Sharks to secure four individual first-place times. Four races is the limit that an individual swimmer can do at a meet.
Wright and Farnan’s perfect days consisted of titles in the 50-meter backstroke, 50-meter butterfly, 50-meter freestyle and 100-meter freestyle. The other win for the Sharks in Wright's 13-14 girls division was from Katy Schommer in the 50-meter breaststroke while Jillian Ternus won that event in Farnan’s 15-and-over division.
Sheil and Feich each matched Wright and Farnan’s events in the 11-12 boys and 8-and-under girls divisions. Feich’s 8-and-division differs from Wright, Farnan and Sheil’s with 25-meter and 50-meter races as opposed to 50-meter and 100-meter races. The breaststroke champions in those divisions were Gavin Stone and Aniston Winter.
The 8-and-under boys division had the most parity with five different Sharks winning an individual race. Michael Steffen won the 25-meter backstroke, Moses Myrick won the 25-meter breaststroke, Will Snyders won the 25-meter butterfly, Bo Dirks won the 25-meter freestyle and Creed Wonderly won the 50-meter freestyle.
Tyson Atwell came away with three wins in the 9-10 division with the 25-meter backstroke and both freestyle events. Jaren Dombek won the 25-meter breaststroke and Kedrick Watkins earned the butterfly crown.
On the girls’ side of the 9-10 division, Kate Hannigan won the 25-meter backstroke and 25-meter freestyle. Nia Lipiec won the 25-meter breaststroke, Jaidaci Wilmes won the 25-meter butterfly and Mariah Dirks won the 50-meter freestyle.
Kate Wright was the top performer in the girls’ 11-12 division with wins in the 50-meter butterfly and the 100-meter freestyle. Meah Schommer won the 25-meter breaststroke.
In the 15-and-over division, Matt Goodridge won the 50-meter butterfly, 50-meter freestyle and 100-meter freestyle while Davin Davis won the 50-meter backstroke and the 50-meter breaststroke.
The Sharks finished first at the Shenandoah Invitational on Saturday. Davin Davis and Austin David earned awards as high-point scorers in their divisions.
The Sharks will be home again on Saturday when they host the Maryville Invitational at the Maryville Aquatic Center. It is fans’ final chance to see the Sharks at home this season.