Swimmers bid season farewell at state

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While the Moffat County High School girls swimming and diving team will admit that the most amazing feat they accomplished at the state swim meet this weekend was fitting four people into a single swim cap, just being at the meet was something of which they were proud.

"They were pretty loose and laid back about the weekend," said coach Ed Stehlin. "I think the feeling was that they did what they set out to do and that was get to the state meet."

The Bulldogs qualified two relay teams and one diver for the state swim meet at Mountain View High School in Loveland. Going in to the meet, the 200-yard medley team of Nicole Vorhies, Miranda Hillewaert, Kallie Murphy and Chloe Gilchrist had the slowest qualifying time of the 30 teams in the meet. The Bulldogs' 2:06.1 in the first round was good enough to move them to 24th place.

Their time wasn't the best of the season, which came the week before in the Western Slope Championships, but it was the second-best time of the year.

"We peaked for the Western Slope Championship meet the weekend before," Stehlin said. "But the girls were just racing a 50 so the early peak didn't affect them too much and they still swam pretty well."

The 200-freestyle team of Hillewaert, Jenna Waite, Cara Conci and Danyel Harman went into the meet ranked 31st out of 36 teams. Their time of 1:51.31 was their best for the year and improved their final ranking to 25th.

"We just don't have the resources that the other teams at state have," Vorhies said. "They are swimming all year around and sometimes twice a day. When we're in the pool, we are probably working just as hard. It's just that we're in the pool during the season and maybe in the summer."

The Bulldogs have enjoyed more success in the past at the state meet, as Stehlin previously had at least one swimmer or a relay team qualify for a consolation final (top 16 times in prelims) every year except one since 1998.

"This just wasn't our year," Stehlin said. "They were a great bunch of girls but it just didn't work out the way we hoped."

Amanda Vaughn qualified for the meet in diving with a score at the Western Slope Championships that earned the second-most points for an MCHS diver in school history. While she was unable to make it out of the first round, Stehlin said the junior gained important experience.

"She was pretty nervous out there and I don't think she dived as confident as she could have," he said. "But after it was over, she learned a lot and she should be one of our leaders next year."

The Bulldogs graduate 13 seniors from the team this year, including seven of the nine who competed at state. For those seniors, Vorhies said the state meet was more of a final hurrah.

"We were there to spend one more weekend together," she said. "I don't think it has really set in yet because it wasn't really that much of an actual meet for us."

Vorhies said the seniors realized that their careers were coming to an end more at the Western Slope Championships because it was "a real meet" and they all swam their regular events.

"We only had two swimming events at state and we weren't ranked very high," she said. "It was a really small place for a state competition and wasn't run very well so we were ready to get out of there after Amanda was done diving."

Stehlin said for next year's team, Harman, Vaughn, and Sari Maneotis gained valuable experience at the state meet and would step into the leadership roles in the future.

"It was hard for us to compete this year at the state level," he said. "We'll miss this senior class but it is good to have some underclassmen come with us to get a taste for next year."

David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or dpressgrove@craigdailypress.com.

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