Ready relays, solid solo races: Moffat County swim team set to take full roster to state
Moffat County High School girls swimming final state-qualifying races
Race — Swimmer(s), time; meet achieved • 100 backstroke — Molly Neton, 1:09.33; Montrose Invite • 100 breaststroke — Kelsey McDiffett; 1:20.45; Grand Junction Invite • 100 freestyle — Molly Neton, 1:01.4; Montrose Invite • 200 free — Alexa Neton; 2:15.32; Southwest Conference Championships • 200 individual medley — Kelsey McDiffett, 2:34.25; Southwest Conference Championships • 200 free relay — Katelynn Turner/Kelsey McDiffett/Alexa Neton/Molly Neton, 1:55.35; Montrose Invite • 200 medley relay — Katelynn Turner/Kelsey McDiffett/Alexa Neton/Molly Neton, 2:07.48; Southwest Conference Championships • 400 free relay — Katelynn Turner/Kelsey McDiffett/Alexa Neton/Molly Neton, 4:09.68; Southwest Conference Championships
GRAND JUNCTION — With a small number of athletes and a great deal of entries, the only problem for coach Meghan Francone heading into the state championships will be determining the seating chart for the drive.
MCHS girls swimming finished the weekend at the Southwest Conference Championships placing ninth overall, taking their spot on the podium in three races Saturday, among a long list of accolades throughout the league event.
Bulldogs were eighth in the finals for both the 200-yard medley relay and 400 freestyle relay, represented by Molly Neton, Alexa Neton, Katelynn Turner and Kelsey McDiffett.
“I think this is the best we’ve had going to state in all four years I’ve been swimming, so I’m pretty happy,” Turner said.
Molly Neton also ranked eighth in the 100 backstroke.
A strong second day at the meet was preceded by an especially explosive opener, with the varsity group taking state-qualifying times for the first time this season in the medley and 400 free, recording their fastest marks of the year Friday at 2:07.48 and 4:09.68, respectively.
Molly also dropped her season best in the backstroke to 1:09.33 during the conference meet, having already secured a place at state in the race back in December, during which she also made it in the 100 free.
She picked up a bigger honor Friday as the recipient of Swimmer of the Year for the league in recognition of her prowess as a student-athlete, complete with a $400 scholarship.
“Molly was an amazingly easy choice to make as a nominee,” Francone said, noting Molly’s strengths as a swimmer, a scholar and as an all-around young woman. “I’m glad that not just Moffat gets to see that but the entire Western Slope.”
After qualifying for the big time in January for the 100 breaststroke, McDiffett achieved two individual state times for the second year in a row as she brought her 200 individual medley finish to 2:34.25 in prelims.
Likewise, Alexa Neton gained her first individual race qualification Friday, hitting 2:15.32 in the 200 free. She also came within mere seconds of state in the lengthy 500 free, during which Saturday she kept the pace to the Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love.”
“We’ve had a lot of qualifications, and it’s all because of Meghan’s workouts,” Alexa said of her coach.
With the Netons, McDiffett and Turner earning a state slot very early in the season in the 200 free relay, they’ll compete in that race and the medley as the state meet approaches, which means the 400 free lineup will likely be filled out by Jeni Kincher, Ellina Jones, Alyssa Chavez and Anna Cooper.
The foursome cut significant seconds in the B segment of the day’s final relay, bringing a preliminary time of 4:51.82 down to 4:37.01.
With eight swimmers set to go to state in eight total events, plus alternates Mackenzie Anderson and Allison Jacobson, the full MoCo girls team will be joining the effort as athletes reach their strongest points yet, personally and as a collective.
Throughout the conference championships, every swimmer attained at least one best for the year.
Apart from the varsity group’s new watershed moments in the 200 medley and 400 free relays and the low in the 200 free relay for Kincher, Jones, Chavez and Cooper, the prelims saw individual bests galore:
o 50 freestyle — Anna Cooper, Allison Jacobson
o 100 free — Katelynn Turner, Jeni Kincher, Ellina Jones
o 100 backstroke — Molly Neton, Katelynn Turner, Anna Cooper, Mackenzie Anderson
o 100 breaststroke — Jeni Kincher, Alyssa Chavez
o 200 free — Alexa Neton, Alyssa Chavez
o 200 individual medley — Kelsey McDiffett, Ellina Jones
o 500 free — Alexa Neton
Coach Francone garnered her own honor Friday as the panel of coaches at the conference championships voted her Coach of the Year.
Even so, she attributed all the weekend’s success to her swimmers.
“Couldn’t be more proud of our girls. We’ve got 10 very strong swimmers headed to that state meet,” Francone said. “People across the Western Slope are looking at out girls and seeing how hard they work.”
As part of the state meet, Alexa Neton was selected to perform the national anthem to kick off the opening day.
MCHS swimmers will travel to Fort Collins for the 3A CHSAA State Championships Friday, Feb. 8 with the school planning a sendoff at 8 a.m. Community members are encouraged to come by MCHS for the ceremony or to join the effort along the route out of town.
It was one of the longest days Moffat County High School volleyball players have experienced this season, but by the end of Saturday, the effort was worth it all.