Nick Montgomery’s name doesn’t show up a lot in the individual results, but he is a vital member of the Ozark High School swimming team and could be very busy at the Class 1 State Championships Nov. 2-3 at the Rec-Plex in St. Peters.
“He’s a staple in our relays,” Ozark coach Steve Boyce said after the Springfield Invitational Oct. 14 at Foster Natatorium in Springfield. Montgomery is one of three seniors for the Tigers, along with Matt Dean and Cole Smith. “Those guys are really helping us out and it will be really fun to see how we can finish up.”
Montgomery, who finished 35th in the 100-yard freestyle, teamed up with Dean, Smith and Blake Schamma to finish ninth in the 200-yard freestyle relay. That was the only relay he swam at the Springfield Invitational Oct. 14 at Foster Natatorium in Springfield, though he could have a much bigger role at state.
“In a normal meet you’ll typically put a guy in two relays,” Boyce said. “As I start thinking about state I can take someone like Nick, who’s one of our better sprinters, and if he’s not swimming an individual event, I’ll put him in all three relays and try to get that extra speed out of it if I can. It makes the relay better.”
The 400-yard freestyle team of Trenton Crisp, Josh Dean, Holton Miller and Tagart Politt were 15th in the 200-yard medley relay. Ozark’s 400-meter freestyle relay team was disqualified. Still, Ozark has hit the automatic state qualifying times in all three relays and will swim those events at the State Championships.
Smith led the way in individual competition, finishing fifth in both the 200-yard freestyle and the 500-yard freestyle. He’s already qualified for state in both of those events and is close to hitting state cuts in other events.
Kaden Bowling, meanwhile, was eighth in the 1-meter diving competition, with a score of 349.55. Bowling has already hit the qualifying score and will dive at state. Teammate Chaz Smith was 16th in the diving competition at the Springfield Invitational.
Four other Tigers finished in the top 20 at the Springfield Invitational. Schamma was 14th in the 200-yard freestyle and 15th in the 100-yard freestyle. Dean took 16th in the 100-yard freestyle and 17th in the 50-yard freestyle.
Both Dean and Schamma are closing in on state cuts. This year, with schools divided into two classes, there are consideration state cuts along with automatic state cuts. Boyce believes both swimmers can hit those consideration cuts, in the 50- and 100-yard freestyles for Dean and the 200- and 500-yard freestyles for Schamma.
Brett Meyer finished 18th in the 100-yard backstroke and Crisp captured 19th in the 500-yard freestyle. Mason Faulkner and Jake Ward also swam for Boyce at the invitational.
Ozark finished 12th in a field of 21 teams, scoring 68 points. The Tigers were two points ahead of Joplin and 14 back of 11th-place Nevada. Rockhurst ran away with the team championship, scoring 390 points. Cape Central was second, with 346, while Glendale (258) was a distant third.
Boyce said he’s pleased with the performances his Tigers have turned in this fall and is even more energized about the future of the program.
“I think they’ve done remarkably well,” Boyce said. “We graduated a great big group last year and we’ve got a couple more guys (on the team) this year. We’ve got a whole pile of freshman, so the future looks really great.”
The Nixa Eagles finished seventh in the team standings at the Springfield Invitational. Their total of 121 points was four clear of Rogersville, which finished eighth, and 19 behind sixth-place Kickapoo.
Dan Brinck captured the top finish of any Christian County athlete in the meet when he finished fourth in the 100-yard freestyle. His time of 49:14 was just two seconds behind winner Brogan Davis of Cape Girardeau Central. Brinck also swam the 200-yard freestyle, finishing ninth.
Freshman Ilya Balyuk had the second-best finish for coach Pete Hill’s squad. He finished sixth in the 100-yard backstroke. Balyuk was 20th in the 100-yard freestyle. J.D. Jedlicka finished ninth in the 100-yard butterfly.
Isaac Daigle had a pair of top-15 finishes. He took eighth in the 100-yard freestyle and 11th in the 50-yard freestyle. Aiden Farrar, Joseph Bogun and Connor Schoenhuls also competed for Nixa.
Balyuk, Brinck, Daigle and Jedlicka competed in two relay races in the Springfield Invitational and finished in the top six in both. They were third in the 200-yard freestyle, with a time of 1:32.90. Cape Girardeau Central finished first, at 1:29.89. Balyuk, Brinck, Daigle and Jedlicka also swam the 400-yard freestyle relay, finishing in sixth place. Their time was 3:32.05.