Moffat County swimmers see success in emotional final meet at home pool
The waters of the Moffat County High School pool were full of activity Friday as the boys swim team dove in for their lone home meet of the season. And, though it was a fun, productive day for the hosting group, athletes and coaches couldn’t help but dread the eventual day when the aquatic site will be bone dry.
MCHS competed in a dual event against the Glenwood Springs Demons as Bulldogs continued their quest for times that will send them to the state championships.
The Demons provided stiff competition, winning the overall meet, as well as first place in each race. Still, the Bulldogs were right behind them in every instance in their first contest since Spring Break.
“We are so close in so many of our events,” coach Meghan Francone said, noting that after clinching a state time in the 200-yard medley, the 200 freestyle relay came ever closer in the Moffat County meter pool.
Nathan Cooper was part of the medley group along with Jacob Briggs, Cody Evaristo and Steamboat Springs’ Brooks Birkinbine that made state in their first meet in early March.
“Our first relay (medley) did really well, but I’m proud of how we did in both of them,” Cooper said.
The foursome placed second in the 200 medley, with a 200 free group of Briggs, Cooper, Birkinbine and David Prescott also earning the silver. Briggs took second in both the 50 and 100 free, Birkinbine in the 200 free and 100 breaststroke, with Evaristo second in 100 backstroke.
The relay of Brandon Beason, Devin McIntosh, Prescott and John Cutler were fourth in 200 medley, while McIntosh, Evaristo, Ethan Powers and Beason were fourth in the 200 free.
The home meet was the first time back in the pool competitively for McIntosh after performing in the spring play, also competing in 200 individual medley and 50 free in an exhausting day. His best placement was third in the 200 IM.
“It’s hard to get used to,” he said. “It wasn’t my best meet, but I really want to keep getting better. I’m only competing with myself, so I want to work harder, get faster.”
Also swimming his first races this season was Derek Powers, who has competed in swimming in the Special Olympics and will be able to compete at state in a 50 free race. Derek placed 12th in the MCHS race and also swam in both relays, fifth in the medley with Trevor Hume, brother Ethan and Marcus Delgado, and fifth in the free with Cutler, Delgado and Hume.
“He’s been swimming with us, training with us, and we’re lucky to have him,” Francone said. “I’m really excited to see what he can do there.”
The Bulldogs will next compete in the Jeffco Invitational, a much larger event, which Francone expects to be a benefit.
“The boys actually like more teams to get hyped up, and Jeffco will be big,” she said. “We should have more training under our belt, and we’ll see what two more weeks in the water does.”
Francone said the home meet was undeniably bittersweet due to the fact that Moffat County School District made the decision earlier this year to close the MCHS pool facilities after the school year. Though efforts are still underway to keep swim teams afloat, losing the site is a big blow for those who use it most.
“I’ve been coaching here for 12 years, so the last competitive event is very, very rough,” Francone said.
Though his senior season would have been his final time in the pool either way, Briggs said he too was upset about the decision. Still, it came with some positives.
“We had a huge draw in the crowd today,” said Briggs, who is a co-captain along with McIntosh. “Just for a lot of people to come and watch us and support us, it was a good send-off.”
Cooper said the ticking clock on the pool has been a motivator to not hold back this season.
“It’s serious for sure, and everybody that has swam before is swimming harder,” he said, adding that first-year swimmers are also putting in great effort. “I feel like everyone’s swimming their best but also having fun.”