High placement, low times as Moffat County swim relay sees state qualification
With state times achieved in two races for the Moffat County High School girls swim team, the Bulldog aquatic athletes knew it wouldn’t be long before they quadrupled the number of competitors going to the big time.
After being right on the cusp in recent meets, MCHS reached a state-qualifying time in the 200-yard freestyle relay during Friday’s Gunnison Invitational.
Ellina Jones led off the foursome, followed by Meeker’s Jeni Kincher, then Alexa Neton before Kelsey McDiffett brought it home to finish third in the race at a season low of 1:54.33.
With a big drop of 2.3 seconds from a week earlier, the group was a heartbeat away from overtaking second-place Durango, 0.3 seconds behind them.
All four varsity athletes have hit the waters of the 3A State Championships in past years, with McDiffett again qualifying in her solo specialties, the 200 breaststroke and 200 individual medley, earlier this month.
Bulldogs’ relays were their strong suit in Gunnison, as the varsity lineup took the bronze in both the 200 medley and 400 free, getting their fastest results so far this season in each.
The medley saw them at 2:14.51, trimming more than two ticks off their best, en route to the state mark of 2:10. The Gunnison event was the first attempt by the varsity quartet this season in the 400 relay, clocking in at 4:22.69, edging close to state’s 4:16.
The change in lineup was part of the reason for success in the 200 free, said coach Melany Neton, adding the state time means girls will be able to focus on the longer freestyle event.
“We had some big cuts for individual events as well,” she said.
In a night full of improvement where they placed fourth among seven schools, McDiffett also took her fastest time this season in the 100 butterfly, as did Jones in the 100 backstroke.
Likewise, Cristiann Reyes was about one second faster than her previous best in the 100 free event, a race in which Tiana Nichols chopped off more than five seconds.
The secondary relay group of Anna Cooper, Nichols, Cristiann Reyes and Alexei Reyes also saw strong results in the 200 and 400 free events, 18th and 11th, respectively.
Moffat County swimmers will round out the weekend Saturday in Delta.