Unsinkable Shipley

MCHS swim team led by into the Western Slope Championships

The limit on events at the Western Slope Championships will keep Moffat County High School swimmer John Shipley from really showing what he is capable of doing today and Saturday at Montrose. But it will also keep him from exhausting himself.

"If there were a two-hour rest in between each event, I think I could do it," Shipley said about competing in all seven events he has qualified for at the state meet.

"I wish that it was a limit of three individual events and one relay because that would help a small team like us."

Instead, Shipley will compete with the limit of two individual events and two relays. The senior will be in diving, the 200-yard medley and 200 free relays, and the 50 freestyle this weekend for the Bulldogs. The combination of diving and swimming doesn't happen often, but Shipley goes in as one of the top-scoring divers in Class 4A and with one of the fastest times on the Western Slope in the 50 freestyle.

"John should be our highest scorer at the meet," said coach Jim Vorhies. "It's been that way all year."

Shipley's hopes are for a top-three finish in each event and to help his team to a top-three finish, a difficult task for the team considering the unique setup of the championship.

Swimming is one of the few sports in the state to not have teams qualify for the state championship on a team basis. Therefore, the Western Slope Championship consists of 5A and 4A teams. MCHS is aware that the 5A clubs from Durango and District 51 (the Grand Junction schools), will be hard to beat merely because of their depth.

"The 5A teams have three times as many swimmers as we do," said Kellan Moore. "Their depth helps a lot in the relays."

School sizes aside, the Bulldogs finished fourth last year and realistically believe they can do just as well again.

"I've said it all year that the Western Slope is going to be very competitive," Vorhies said. "District 51 and Montrose will be hard to catch, but we can be up there with the rest of the field."

In addition to Shipley, Jerry Davis has been diving well of late and the two hope to improve in their two-three finish last year.

"We're both going after my school record in the 11-dive competition," Davis said. "We've been diving against these same kids all year and we should beat them."

The backstroke also is an event in which the Bulldogs are looking to rack up the points. At last weekend's meet in Grand Junction, Chris Compton, Moore and Nick Ruckman went 1-2-3 and hope for a similar finish on Saturday.

"There is one other fast guy," Moore said. "But I'm looking to qualify for state in the event so he's going to have to swim well to beat any of us."

Moore also is less than a second away from qualifying in the 50 freestyle.

"I just want to get in there and go after it," Moore said. "Hopefully someone will be beside me pushing me to a qualification."

The Bulldogs spent Thursday playing water polo and then having a team dinner. Vorhies said from the afternoon he could tell his athletes were ready to go.

"They're ready to hit it," he said. "Everything is ready to roll."

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