Flashes win two state championships at MAIS Overall Swim Meet
Published 5:58 pm Wednesday, September 27, 2023
FLOWOOD — In his last individual event as a high school swimmer, Jon Daniel Busby experienced what he called one of the worst feelings in the sport.
Thankfully, he had one more chance to set things right, and experienced the best.
The St. Aloysius senior anchored the 400 yard freestyle relay to victory Wednesday at the MAIS Overall State Meet. The Flashes won with with a time of 3 minutes, 41.18 seconds to edge out Madison-Ridgeland Academy — and MRA’s Jonah Clarke, who held off Busby by .08 seconds in the 100 breaststroke just a few minutes earlier.
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Matthew Busby, Conner Johnston and Luke Larson were also on the winning relay.
“It is the worst feeling in the world when you’re the guy that gets out-touched. That was me five minutes before the race,” Jon Daniel Busby said with a laugh. “But it’s the best feeling when you can look up and see, ‘I got him!’”
Busby also won the MAIS championship in the 200 yard individual medley earlier in the day, with a dominating performance. He clocked a time of 2:05.21, which was 13.55 seconds ahead of runner-up Carson Clarke of MRA.
That victory was a bit of redemption as well. Busby shattered the MAIS record in the 200 IM by two seconds last year, but Jackson Prep’s Warner Russ topped it by three seconds and claimed the state title.
Russ elected to race the 50 and 100 freestyle events and skip the 200 IM this year, which opened the door for Busby to cruise to victory. Russ set the MAIS records in both freestyle events, with a time of 21.25 in the 50 and 46.25 in the 100.
“I was worried about that race. I thought somebody else super fast was going to swim it, because he swam it last year,” Busby said. “I didn’t want to do it, because at the beginning of the year I didn’t want to do a race I wasn’t going to win. But I looked at the heat sheet today and he wasn’t doing it.”
Busby rounded out his day with the runner-up finish in the 100 breaststroke, and by joining Larson, his brother Matthew, and Caleb Jones on the 200 medley relay team that finished second.
The 400 yard freestyle relay was the last event of the meet and a thrilling way to finish the high school careers of seniors Larson, Johnston and Jon Daniel Busby.
The Flashes fell behind early in the race, but gained ground during the middle legs swam by Johnston and Larson. Then Jon Daniel Busby, the team’s fastest swimmer, finished reeling in Jonah Clarke and won by about a body length.
“Matthew had to go against somebody who had about eight seconds on him, so we were already pretty far behind. Then Conner was able to pull it back a little bit, and then I went in and got a little bit closer, and then Jonny finished it,” Larson said.
The relay team cut 10 seconds off of its seed time. All four swimmers completed their legs in less than 55 seconds, with Busby bringing it home with a blistering split time of 48 seconds.
“We were seeded third and we had not beaten MRA one time this year in the 4×100. I don’t think we beat them one time in three years,” St. Al coach Wilson Carroll said. “We just had a bunch of guys that were not going to be denied. Every one of them swam the fastest splits they’ve swam. It was astonishing that they were able to pull this off.”
The meet-ending victory helped St. Al finish fourth in the team standings, which combined the scores from both the boys’ and girls’ teams. The Flashes totaled 127 points.
Jackson Prep won the state championship with 246 points, MRA was second with 176, and Madison-St. Joe third with 142.
St. Al had 13 top-five finishes and won reached the podium in seven events. In addition to Jon Daniel Busby and the two relays, St. Al’s boys’ got a third-place finish from Larson in the 100 butterfly and Matthew Busby in the 100 backstroke. Larson was also fourth in the 100 backstroke.
For the girls’ Olivia Busby placed third in the 200 yard individual medley and fourth in the 100 freestyle. Elle Larson had two fourth-place efforts, in the 200 IM and 100 backstroke, while Katelyn Clark was fourth in the 500 freestyle and fifth in the 200 freestyle.
The 200 yard freestyle relay of Clark, Elle Larson, Olivia Busby and Campbell McCoy also finished fifth.
“Couldn’t be more proud. We won races we were not supposed to win. We cut huge times across the board. We’re a third the size of these teams that beat us and we’re going toe-to-toe with them,” Carroll said. “We’re losing seven seniors this year who meant so much to this program, and I’m so glad they were able to finish on a strong note.”