Moffat County swimming sees 400-yard free relay team earn state tournament spot |

Moffat County swimming sees 400-yard free relay team earn state tournament spot

The team set personal bests throughout the tournament in the final action ahead of the 3A state tournament.

A handful of Moffat County swimmers clocked personal bests at the 3A Regional meet in what was one of the best meets of the season for the Bulldogs, which also saw the 400-yard free relay team clinch a state tournament spot.

The state-qualifying 400-yard free relay team of seniors Ellina Jones, Alexa Neton and Kelsey McDiffett, and junior Hailey Knowles will head to Thornton to swim at the Veteran’s Memorial Aquatic Center (VMAC) for the 3A State Meet on March 13th. At regionals on Saturday, the 400 Free relay dropped over seven seconds for a finishing time 4:09:85.

The Bulldogs’ best individual performance was from Jones in the 100 yard backstroke, as she finished in eighth place, with a time of 1:11.80, good for a personal best time for the senior.

In total, Moffat County saw a number of individuals clock personal records in single events at the 3A regionals. Alexa Neton (200 free, 2:23.59), Kelsey McDiffett (100 Breast 1:16.58), Megan Neton (100 butterfly, 1:18.78; 200 IM 2:52.08), Allison Jacobsen (200 IM, 3:24.11, 100 Free 1:20.25), Christiann Reyes (100 Free, 1:26.63), Alexei Reyes (50 Free 40.21), Hailey Knowles (100 butterfly, 1:11.46), Nora Gianinetti (100 Breast, 1:29.52, 100 Free 1:09.70), Wagner Brown (100 Free 1:13.03), Vivian Brown (100 back, 1:23.32), Sarah Johnson (100 Breast, 1:30.53) and Tiana Nichols (100 back, 1:30.72) clocked personal records at CMU.

Though the Bulldogs turned in a strong day in the pool at regionals, it marks the end of a long career in the pool together for a number of girls.

“”It was sad since me and Alexa (Neton) and Ellina (Jones) have swam in this pool since we were 5 years old,” McDiffett said. “There’s a lot of nostalgia in this pool; it’s big and lots of space, and it’s fast.”

The team’s improvement year over year is something that stands out to the seniors, Jones in particular.

“It’s been a crazy season, but we’ve done better this year than my whole high school career. It’s been one to remember and one I’ll never forget,” Jones said.

All of the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented is what Moffat County Head Coach Melany Neton will remember the most about this season.

“Swimming during a global pandemic has been a challenge; however, no matter what new restriction was thrown at the girls, they continued to persevere,” Neton said. “This season has brought the girls’ fastest times while being their shortest season ever. The girls wanted to make it back to state and their hard work and dedication paid off.”

The 400 free relay team and one yet to be determined alternate will go to the Veteran’s Memorial Aquatics Center for the state championships in Thornton, March 13.

Freelance sports reporter Andy Bockelman contributed to this report.

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