It’s now or never for the Moffat County girls swimming team.
The Bulldogs head to the Western Slope League 4A Championships this Friday and Saturday in Grand Junction, the team’s final meet of the season before the state meet Feb. 8 and 9.
Because it’s their final meet of the season, it’s also the last chance to qualify for the state meet for many Moffat County swimmers. And going into this weekend, there is a lot on the line.
Moffat County does not expect to compete for the WSL title as a team, as many of the other eight teams they will swim against have much greater depth and therefore capability to score points. But the league meet offers many other opportunities for individuals and teams to meet their goals.
For the Bulldog’s top swimmer Eryn Leonard, the goal will be to win her best individual events. She comes into the meet looking to win her rivalry with Aspen swimmer Claire Collier, with whom she has been neck and neck most of the season in the 50-meter freestyle and 100-meter butterfly.
The Bulldogs relay teams will be looking to hit a state qualifying time, which they’ve been flirting with for much of the season. In the 200 medley relay, they are two seconds away, while they need to drop four seconds in the 200 freestyle relay to keep swimming.
“We are really looking to qualify our medley relay and our 200 free relay,” coach Meghan Francone said. “I put them in the fast heat with the fast girls to be set as well as they could to qualify. Our relays are stacked really deep. I’m excited for them.”
But the WSL is not all about finishing atop the podium. 16 swimmers/relay teams qualify from the preliminaries Friday to swim again Saturday. For many Moffat County swimmers and secondary teams, dropping a half second to qualify for the final would be a major accomplishment, and give them a chance to swim again, Francone said.
“Every race, it’s going to be pretty stressful,” Francone said of all the goals and opportunities in play for Moffat County. “The girls want to come back because racing twice is a much better opportunity than racing just once. This is it. It’s make or break, you either do it or you don’t.”
Aside from Leonard, no other Bulldogs have yet hit a qualifying time. But others are not far off, and a strong swim Friday or Saturday could be the difference for individuals or relays.
Sophomore Laurel Tegtman needs to drop less than a second to qualify in the 50-meter freestyle. Conversely, if she were to swim a second slower than her qualifying time, she would likely miss out on Saturday’s final. That is the way it works, though, as the competition picks up at bigger meets, Francone said.
“For Laurel, she’s at 27 (seconds),” she said. “A 26 takes her to third, a 28 takes her out of moving on (to the final).
You get one shot, it’s over in 30 seconds.”
Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org