Lady ‘Dogs take to the pool | CraigDailyPress.com

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Lady ‘Dogs take to the pool

By ELWOOD K. SHELTON
Daily Press writer
The Lady Bulldogs swim team might have to stop calling themselves Moffat County and change their name to “Tri-County.”
That’s because there are a total of five swimmers from outside the Moffat County-area participating on the high school team this year.
That Includes the only state qualifier from last year’s team, senior Jessica Hererra.
Hererra, who commutes from Rangely, practices and competes with the high school team. She qualified for the state meet last year in the 50-yard freestyle.
Aside from Hererra, there are three other swimmers from Rio Blanco County and one from Routt County freshman Heather Whiting of Steamboat Springs.
“Heather is going to be a big boost for our team,” coach Ed Stehlin said. “We’ve only been practicing for a week now and she’s already swimming state-qualification times.”
Whiting competes in the 100-yard breaststroke and the 50 freestyle.
The swimmers from Moffat County are enjoying the addition of the out-of-county swimmers to the program, saying they add a new dimension to the team.
“The girls who travel in to swim with us bring a lot to the team,” junior Jada Hastings said. “It’s different having girls from other towns on the team, but they help push the practices, and help a lot at the meets.”
The Lady Bulldogs have a total of 20 swimmers returning to the program, after losing three seniors from last season. The program will have four divers returning, plus one new freshman.
The junior class composes most of the returners. The two returning seniors are Michelle Harman and Paige Roberts.
The junior class, the majority who came into the Lady ‘Dogs program with little or no experience as freshmen, are a class looking to achieve this season, Stehlin said.
“It’s taken the junior class a couple of years to get focused, but it looks like they have this season,” he said. “They have high expectations for themselves, a majority of them want to place at districts, and all want to qualify for state.”
A number of the juniors were close to state qualification last season, but many were edged-out by a tenth-of-a-second. Junior Miranda Hillewaert missed qualifying for the state meet in the 50 freestyle by just a tenth of a second, Stehlin said.
Although the junior class may be the most driven this season, they are not the largest class. The sophomores have 13 of the 33 girls on the team.
“Some of the girls are just coming out this season,” Stehlin said. “For one reason or another as freshmen some of these girls didn’t come out.”
Overall, Stehlin sees his team being well-balanced through every class, saying they are “salty” all the way through. He also expects to see a greater amount of state qualifiers by the end of the season.
“The girls are looking strong and came into practice in shape,” he said. “Right now they’re putting in yards that took us halfway through last season to get to. So it makes me feel like they’re looking to achieve some of their high expectations.”