Take every opportunity: Moffat County swimming powers on without home pool
The pool area of Moffat County High School won’t be hosting any aquatic athletes in the foreseeable future, but that doesn’t mean Bulldogs won’t find other ways to compete.
The MCHS swimming program will continue on during the winter and spring despite not having a venue on campus as athletes and coaches look to get creative in continuing the success of the sport in Northwest Colorado.
The announcement came in February that Moffat County School District would be shutting down the pool at the end of the 2017-18 school year due to the cost of potentially repairing the facility’s maintenance issues, including an ongoing leak.
The price tag was estimated to be about $1.1 million, with board members opting to close the pool, a decision that hit hard for the girls and boys swim teams.
The news was particularly rough for girls, who were just coming off multiple state-qualifying swims at the Southwestern Conference League Championships and nonetheless went on to compete at the state championships days later.
In the spring, the boys team likewise took its possible last season to heart as nearly every member went to state.
While organizers continue to work toward building a new indoor pool facility for Craig, the end of the school year also seemed like the end of an era for coach Meghan Francone, but during the summer, discussions began to keep teams in place even without their own pool.
The arrangement will involve traveling three times a week to swim at Meeker Recreation Center, while two days a week will be devoted to “dryland” work, including core training, cardio and aerobic exercise.
Working out of the water was a supplemental technique Francone insisted athletes practice last season, though now it will be all the more necessary.
“We’ll be doing all we can to support our water workouts since we don’t have that water here,” she said. “It’s not the most ideal situation, but our kids are Moffat County proud, and we will do the best with what we are given, and we’re just grateful to still have a team”
Francone expressed her gratitude to Meeker for working with MCHS, which is hardly new given how frequently other area schools compete as part of the Bulldog crew. Meeker’s Jeni Kincher and Steamboat Springs’ Brooks Birkinbine were among those in the past year who went to state for girls and boys, respectively.
Throughout the summer, many MCHS athletes stayed sharp as part of Craig Sea Sharks, with Ellina Jones, Kelsey McDiffett, Alexa Neton, Molly Neton and Katelynn Turner among those attending the Seasonal State Club Championships in August.
As part of those honors, Molly Neton, a senior at MCHS this year, went on to receive the Seasonal State Female Athlete of the Year.
“She came to practice ready to work and would often be the motivator for the rest of the team when it was time to jump into the water at 7 a.m.,” Sea Sharks coach Heather Trapp said. “Molly is a consistently hard worker who really does put her heart in the pool.”
Trapp added she expects the high school season will be a success if the summer is any indication.
Francone echoed that sentiment.
“We’re still trying to iron out the details, but these kids are great at going out there no matter what,” she said.
A learn-by-doing methodology was on display Friday at the Loudy-Simpson Park pond as Moffat County High School science students learned quickly whether or not they had a future in engineering.