“The Jeffco Invite has the best schools from Class 5A and 4A, so in some ways it is bigger than state. There were 400 to 500 kids competing and some events had over 50 kids. The 200-yard individual medley isn’t my favorite event, so I am just happy to have qualified.”
— Matt Hulstine, a Moffat County High School sophomore, about the competition level at the Jeffco Invitational on Friday and Saturday in Arvada
Matt Hulstine can now check three more items off his list of things to achieve in the 2011 swimming season after the Jeffco Invitational on Friday and Saturday in Arvada.
The Moffat County High School sophomore qualified for the 4A state swim meet in the 200-yard individual medley and as part of the 200-yard freestyle relay.
To top it off, Hulstine also broke his own MCHS record.
In the 100-yard breaststroke, Hulstine swam a time of 1 minute, 2.07 seconds.
Hulstine’s time beat his own previous school record of 1 minute, 3.08 seconds.
Hulstine’s time of 2 minutes, 14.06 seconds in the 200-yard individual medley was less than a second under the state qualifying time of 2 minutes, 15 seconds.
“I was pretty happy and satisfied with the way I swam in the meet,” Hulstine said. “I figured I would beat the record because I set it last year as a freshman, but I am happy I was able to break it so early this season.”
Hulstine had already qualified for the 100-yard breaststroke on March 19 in Montrose.
In Arvada, the top racers were all neck and neck heading into the final 50 yards of the 100-yard breaststroke, Hulstine said, and he knew he needed to give himself an extra push.
“Out of the corner of my eye, I saw everyone was really close,” he said. “I just put my head down and pushed as hard as I could.”
Hulstine’s extra push and record-breaking time yielded a second-place finish in the event in what he called “the toughest meet besides state.”
The MCHS boys varsity swimming team took 19th out of 22 teams at the meet.
The competition was so tough, in fact, that Hulstine’s state qualifying time in the 200-yard individual medley didn’t advance him into the finals of the event.
Only 16 swimmers advanced to the finals, but 23 athletes swam under the 4A state qualifying time.
“The Jeffco Invite has the best schools from Class 5A and 4A, so in some ways it is bigger than state,” Hulstine said. “There were 400 to 500 kids competing and some events had over 50 kids. The 200-yard individual medley isn’t my favorite event, so I am just happy to have qualified.”
Head coach Meghan Francone said Hulstine is one of the hardest workers in the pool and gives the sport his all.
“Matt works hard and he has earned every little bit he has won so far,” she said. “He swam a second under the state qualifying time in the 200-yard individual medley, but wasn’t in the top 16, so I think that just shows how stiff the competition was at the meet.”
The 200-yard freestyle relay team, which included Hulstine and seniors Justin Prosser, Charlie Griffiths and John Kirk, qualified for the state meet during the prelims with a time of 1 minute, 40.38 seconds. The 4A state qualifying time was 1 minute, 42 seconds.
The 200-yard freestyle relay was the last of the three relays to qualify for state. The 400-yard freestyle relay and the 200-yard medley relay qualified March 12 in Grand Junction.
Kirk was unable to swim in the finals, but the team swam a time of 1 minute, 47.34 seconds with a junior varsity replacement.
“To be able to take a swimmer out and put in another swimmer and still swim good times shows a lot,” Hulstine said. “It shows how deep our team is and how much skill we have.”
Francone said many of the 22 teams that competed had between 30 and 40 boys on their squad.
“The guys really stepped up and in about 90 percent of the events, we cut time,” she said. “We had a few disqualifications, but I think all the guys met the goals they set out to achieve. It was a very productive meet.”
Hulstine has been a part of all three relays when they qualified for state and has his two individual events to look forward to in the May 20 and 21 state swim meet in Grand Junction, but he said he’s not done yet.
He still has his eyes set on two more events — the 50-yard freestyle and the 100-yard butterfly.
“I am only .06 seconds off the qualifying time in the 50-yard freestyle,” Hulstine said. “I haven’t swam the 100-yard butterfly this season, but I made it to the state meet in that event last year, so I am going to start working on that.”
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