Moffat County swimmers seek return to state with conference championships
This weekend is now or never for the members of Moffat County High School boys swimming, as they strive for big achievements in the final stretch of the season and to solidify their return to the state championships.
The four-man squad is edging closer and closer each week to hitting state times and the final meet to do so is the upcoming Western Slope Conference Championships Friday and Saturday at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction.
Mesa’s El Pomar Natatorium is where the Dogs have competed in the majority of their events across the season, and though the pressure is on somewhat more this weekend, their coach wants them hit the water like any other meet.
“We’re pumped to be back at CMU and see what comes as a result,” coach Meghan Francone said.
Athletes have recorded some of their best times and placements in the past two weeks, with the D-51 Pentathlon and Invite April 26 and 27 and a May 3 dual meet in Glenwood Springs, the results of which have helped the Bulldogs each set their sights on specific individual goals in their strongest races.
• Cody Evaristo — 100-yard backstroke
Evaristo marked his fastest time yet in the backstroke during the D-51 event, less than a half-second from state at 1:02.78. The MCHS junior went all the way to the state preliminaries last season in the stroke.
“He’s looking to cinch that down this weekend,” Francone said.
Evaristo also gained a win at D-51 Pentathlon in the 50 freestyle.
• David Prescott — 100-yard breaststroke
Prescott is another swimmer who represent Moffat County at state last spring and is eager to round out his senior year by getting back to that level.
He earned his best time in the breaststroke, which Francone said has been his specialty this year, with second place at D-51 at a time of 1:14.69.
• Nathan Cooper — 100-yard freestyle
While Evaristo currently holds the team’s best time in the 100 free this year, Cooper is coming for his teammate this weekend, but more importantly he has his sights set on outdoing himself in the race.
“He’s looking to break the one-minute goal in that one,” Francone said.
Cooper, also a state competitor from his junior year, had his best placement in Glenwood in the 200 free, with third place (2:24.90).
• Chayton Owens — 50-yard freestyle
The rookie of the team, Owens continues to grow by leaps and bounds each time in the water, Francone said. His particular focus at the league event will be bringing down his time in the shortest race and hit a standard he has met during relays albeit not in the open race.
“He really wants to break that 30-second barrier,” Francone said. “He’s really close.”
Owens earned a 30.17 in the 50 while in Glenwood, placing fourth.
As far as relays, the Bulldogs hit their quickest time to date at D-51 in the 200 medley (2:03.73), which earned them the bronze. They were also third in the same race in Glenwood, placing the same in the 200 free relay, though their peak in the latter remains the Jeffco Invite.
Though not every meet brings with it a new best, Francone said the teamwork she sees shows how hard swimmers are working to improve.
“We’ve spent a lot of time together both in and out of the water. Just a great group of kids, I just can’t say enough about them,” she said.
American Red Cross of Western Colorado will be training Moffat County volunteers on disaster cycle services, psychological first aid, and more during sessions Saturday, Aug. 24, according to a news release from the organization.