MONTROSE -- In his first year of coaching the Moffat County High School boys swim team, Jim Vorhies had one swimmer qualify for the consolation final at districts.
In his fourth year, Vorhies' team surpassed that in the first event with two relay teams finishing fourth and sixth respectively in the finals of the 200-yard medley.
"We've come a long way," Vorhies said after his Bulldogs had 17 finishes in the top 12 at the district championships in Montrose. "To have two relays in the top six in one event is phenomenal for such a small team."
The Bulldogs finished fifth behind four teams that swim year around outside of the high school season.
"We are at a disadvantage without having a year program," Vorhies said. "But we hold our own considering."
Nine of 14 Bulldogs will be going to state this weekend at Mountain View High School in Loveland. It will be a group that Vorhies said could earn one of the best finishes in the school's history.
"I'm not real familiar with teams before me," he said. "But in my time we've had one individual place in an event at state before and I think we're capable of surpassing that."
The diving competition could be one of the events the Bulldogs earn points in at state.
John Shipley continued his winning ways with a district title in diving and teammate Jerry Davis came in fourth.
Shipley has not lost to a Class 4A swimmer this season, but he has only competed on the Front Range once.
"From what I see on the Front Range, John could finish in the top five," Vorhies said. "I also think Jerry is capable of finishing in the top 12."
The only returning state placer from last year's team is sophomore Chris Compton, who finished 15th in the backstroke as a freshman. Compton took fourth in the event at districts and his teammates Nick Ruckman and Kellan Moore followed with eighth- and ninth-place finishes respectively.
"I think the guys would have liked to have placed a little higher overall," Vorhies said, "but, to everyone's credit, that was the fastest I've seen this district."
Other top finishers for MCHS were: 50 freestyle -- Shipley 3rd, Moore 12th; 100 butterfly -- Ruckman 5th, Kyle Eitel 10th; 200-freestyle relay -- Team A 4th, Team B 11th; 100 breast stroke -- Zach Vorhies 10th, Kyle Eitel 11th; 400-freestyle relay -- Team A 8th, Team B 9th.
"For the swimmers I knew were going to state I didn't fully taper them so they've still got some speed in them," Vorhies said. "They'll see what they are really capable of at state."
Vorhies was confident to see improvement from his team in its final week after watching Robert McClellan and Tim Bailey swim their best after fully tapering the week before districts.
"If the guys at state can have as stellar of meets as Tim and Robert did at districts, times should drop," he said. "It's a sign that we're growing as a team when the focus to doing our best changes from districts to state."
Prelims for state begin at 4 p.m. Friday with finals Saturday at MVHS.