Moffat County swimmers drop times across the board to complete conference championships | CraigDailyPress.com

Moffat County swimmers drop times across the board to complete conference championships

From left, Moffat County High School swim coach Meghan Francone convenes with athletes David Prescott, Cody Evaristo, Nathan Cooper and Chayton Owens and manager Katelynn Turner await the start of the final rounds of the Western Slope Conference Championships.
Andy Bockelman

If there’s one regret the members of the Moffat County High School boys swim team has, it’s that the season isn’t one week longer.

By the end of Saturday afternoon in the Colorado Mesa University waters, MCHS qualified in one race for the 4A CHSAA State Championships and came agonizingly close in many more.

Following Cody Evaristo making the cut for state during the Friday preliminary round of the 100-yard backstroke at the Western Slope Conference Championships, Bulldogs were looking to keep the momentum moving in the finals.

The Dogs had their best shot first thing Saturday in the 200 medley relay, placing fifth and coming within one second of a qualifier with their best time this spring, 1:58.28.

Starting with Evaristo’s backstroke, followed by David Prescott’s breaststroke and Nathan Cooper’s butterfly, Chayton Owens brought it home with the freestyle as the group pushed past the two-minute mark for the first time.

Each individual boasted their best splits by far, coach Meghan Francone told them immediately after the action.

As the day continued, Cooper took 10th in the 50 free finals (26.24 seconds), while Prescott and Evaristo were 10th and 11th, respectively, in the 100 free at 57.24 and 58.70, the fastest times so far for the pair.

The full group swam their last event as a foursome in the 200 free relay, again coming teasingly close to state with two seconds off their previous best, finishing sixth at 1:47.35, two seconds faster than the night before.

“They really did Moffat proud,” Francone said.

While Evaristo was just past his earlier accomplishment in the 100 back, placing fifth (1:02.4) Prescott decimated his best in the 100 breast to finish the weekend, slicing three seconds off his lowest, ranking sixth overall at 1:11.29.

The conference championships will be the last competition for three of the four teammates, though they will all remain in practice mode in the coming week to aid Evaristo in prepping for state.

“Season’s not over yet for us,” Francone said.

The past season has affected the lot of them differently. For Owens, who joined the team out of Meeker, he was thrown in the deep end as a complete novice to the sport.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” he said, catching his breath after the final relay.

Francone said Owens has more than pulled his weight among more experienced swimmers.

“To join a team having never competed, never swam before and be on the finals podium says a lot about his worth and work ethic,” she said.

Evaristo is in his third year with Bulldog swimming as a junior, and while Cooper and Prescott are just as seasoned, Saturday marked their final high school meet.

While Cooper is far from upset that the intensity of full-bore practices and meets is over, he will look back on plenty of other things fondly.

“The thing I’m gonna miss is just the time we spend together,” he said. “I’ll be thinking about the traveling and the goofing off between races.”

Even though they won’t be hitting the aqua at state May 17 and 18 in Thornton, the two seniors — each of whom attended state last season — said they went out holding back nothing.

“I’m really proud of the whole team, how everyone competed,” Prescott said. “Making it this far has been great. I’ll miss everything about it.”