Craig Sea Sharks to host Seasonal State Meet this weekend | CraigDailyPress.com

Craig Sea Sharks to host Seasonal State Meet this weekend

Swim team features 16 local competitors in field of 300 from across Colorado

Craig Sea Sharks swimmers flex their muscles Thursday night on the side of the Craig City Pool. Back row, from left: Kelsey McDiffett, Alexa Neton, Molly Neton, Ellina Jones, Jaci McDiffett, Jacob Briggs. Middle row: Hudson Jones, Michael Sigmon, Emma Fritz, Julia Rich, Megan Neton, Owen Gifford. Front row: Patrick Neton, Eli Francone, Nathan LeFevre, Travis LeFevre and Milo Gifford. The Sea Sharks and the pool complex will host the Season State Meet Friday through Sunday, with 300 competitors from across Colorado.

Some members of the Craig Sea SharksCraig Sea Sharks youth swim program may be feeling like a big fish in a small pond, but the body of water they call home will be packed this weekend. youth swim program may be feeling like a big fish in a small pond, but the body of water they call home will be packed this weekend.

Craig Sea Sharks youth swim program may be feeling like a big fish in a small pond, but the body of water they call home will be packed this weekend.

The Seasonal State Meet for Colorado summer teams takes place at the Craig Pool Complex Friday through Sunday.

The Sea Sharks will serve as the host team with about 300 elite competitors across the three days and about 1,000 total people expected to attend the meet.

The Sea Sharks boast 16 athletes who have qualified for the state level: Jacob Briggs, Eli Francone, Milo Gifford, Owen Gifford, Sarah Johnson, Hudson Jones, Nathan LeFevre, Travis LeFevre, Jaci McDiffett, Kelsey McDiffett, Noah Mortenson, Wyatt Mortenson, Alexa Neton, Megan Neton, Molly Neton and Patrick Neton.

Groups from all across Colorado will converge in Craig for races Sea Sharks coach Meghan Francone expects to be fiercely contested.

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The number is a bump up from state swimmers last year, partly because of the convenience of staying in Craig compared to 2015's Fort Morgan site, she added.

"We don't have to travel seven hours this year, which is great," she said. "We've got some impressive swimmers coming our way. I'm excited to see what comes out of the next three days and see how we've trained and things that we've worked on come to fruition."

Jacob Briggs and Molly Neton are two of the more experienced members of the Sea Sharks, each also competing in the sport at Moffat County High School and will swim for the Bulldogs this coming school year as a junior and a sophomore, respectively.

Briggs said he'll be keeping his eye out for Patrick Scoggins of Rangely, whom he referred to as "a machine" and will just focus on doing his best the instant he hits the H20.

"Just looking forward to swimming hard and fast," he said.

Both high school-aged Sea Sharks agreed the summer schedule can be more grueling because of the higher amount of competition. Still, the early outdoor practice sessions can be chilly even in July, making them long for the sauna-like quality of MCHS's indoor waters.

Overall, though, Molly said she prefers the city pool.

"It's where I've grown up swimming, so it's just kind of like home," she said.

Each of Molly's younger siblings will also be swimming this weekend, With six races in front of her the next few days, Megan, 10, is most looking forward to the event where she'll be looking skyward the entire time — the 50-meter backstroke.

"It comes more naturally," she said of her specialty in the stroke, demonstrating her technique. "I do my arms longer."

The LeFevre brothers are also both ready for another year at a state meet, the second for Nathan, 6, and the third for Travis, 9.

"The meets are a lot of fun," Travis said.

The two are happy to be able to swim in their regular pool, their favorite place for the summertime activity. However, the part of the facility Nathan enjoys the most likely won't be one he'll use much this weekend.

"I like the diving board best," he smiled.

There will be far more action than just in the water for families in town for the Season State Meet.

After races Friday, the evening will include a salute to the Olympics as kids represent different countries in the international event, complete with a lighting of the ceremonial torch. A free screening of the cartoon "Rio" will follow in Veterans Memorial Park, significant due to the Olympiad taking place in Brazil this summer.

Saturday will likewise feature an early morning pancake breakfast by Craig Lions Club and a barbecue later in the day strictly for families attending the meet. A bounce house and dunk tank will also be on site.

This is the first time in five years Craig has hosted state, and the coaches and supporters plan to make it memorable.

"We've got some really key people here who stepped up and organized that, so thanks to them for sure," Francone said of the team of parents and volunteers. "A big thank you to (aquatics manager) Sylvia Griffiths and the city and the lifeguards. They run a clean pool, a tight ship, and things don't work unless they pull together, and they always do."

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Sports.Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Sports.