The Fab Five
Swim team's seniors hope to make waves for Bulldogs
Jim Vorhies has been imagining, even dreaming, about this weekend for a long time.
“I’ve been thinking about this for at least a decade. I’ve been coaching Zach and Andy since they were this big,” the Moffat County boys swim coach said, holding his hand 3 feet from the ground.
Zach, Jim’s son, and four other seniors, Andy Key, Nick Ruckman, Chris Compton and Blake Worsley, will take to the starting blocks at the state swim meet in Loveland for the last time Saturday.
The five, along with junior Duke Karschner, are on the verge of making history for a Moffat County swim team.
“We’re going to blow the previous best out of the water,” Jim Vorhies said.
The coach isn’t the only one who has talked about this weekend for a while.
“It’s been probably 13 years that I’ve been looking forward to this,” Zach Vorhies said. “Andy, Nick and I have thought about this since we knew each other.”
All of the seniors except Compton have competed against each other since they graduated from the doggie paddle in summer club. Nick Ruckman swam for the Meeker Mancos, Key and Zach Vorhies for the Rangely Hurricanes and Worsley for the Steamboat Springs Lightning. Then the Vorhies family moved to Craig.
When he was in the eighth grade, Compton moved to Craig to join Zach Vorhies on the Sea Sharks. All of the swimmer except Worsley were members of the high school team their freshman and sophomore years. Worsley decided he to join as a junior.
Even before the first event of the meet this weekend, the aquatic version of the Fab Five has rewritten the Moffat record book with eight new school records. Their coach doesn’t see any reason the records will stop at the Mountain View High School natatorium.
“They still have some unfinished business,” coach Vorhies said. “I knew they’d be good, not just this good.”
Compton is sticking to his prediction that he made earlier in the year. He predicted that the medley relay team had the potential to be All-American.
“That would be crazy,” Zach Vorhies said. “That would be unheard of for a team like us.”
With Compton swimming the backstroke, Vorhies the breaststroke, Ruckman the butterfly and Worsley the freestyle, the Bulldogs are also thinking about a state championship in the relay.
They have the fifth-best time in Class 4A entering the meet. Their mark of 1 minute, 44.96 seconds, was recorded a month ago.
“I missed a turn on that swim and Zach was sick,” Compton said. “That is the difference of two seconds right there.”
The same medley team finished 10th at state last year, but that was before Worsley’s breakthrough this year.
“We needed someone to step it up and he did,” Compton said. “Blake has made the difference for our goals.”
The most points a Bulldog swim team has scored at state is 34 — last year’s total. The medley is the first event in the meet and a first-place finish is worth 40 points. If the team doesn’t eclipse 34 in the first event, its likely to happen by the fourth event, the 50-meter freestyle, at the latest.
Worsley, (third), Ruckman (seventh), Key (11th) and Compton (14th) are ranked to score in the 50 freestyle.
“Isn’t that great?” coach Vorhies said, pointing to the four highlighted Bulldog swimmers out of 17 entrees.
In his six year of coaching, Jim Vorhies has not had the chance to watch a swimmer make the ceremonial walk around the pool before the finals. To do that, a swimmer or a relay has to be in the top eight in the preliminary rounds.
If seeds hold true, there are five events in which the Bulldogs will be in the top eight. Along with the the medley relay and the two swimmers in the 50 freestyle, Worsley is sitting fourth in the 100 freestyle and Compton is sixth in the 100 backstroke.
Compton has placed at state all three years in the backstroke but his previous best finish was 14th.
“I want to finish better than my seed,” he said.
Last year, Ruckman earned the team’s highest state finish as an individual with a 10th-place finish in the 100 butterfly. He is ranked 10th going into the event.
The 200 freestyle relay of Ruckman, Worsley, Vorhies and Key is ranked 10th. The 400 freestyle relay of Compton, Vorhies, Key and Karschner is ranked ninth.
Coach Vorhies will have a good idea of where the team sits after the preliminary rounds today, which start at 4 p.m.
“This is the first time we haven’t tapered a little bit for the Western Slopes,” he said. “We tapered them fully this week and times are going to be flying.”
The only tough for the coach this weekend will be the finality of it all.
“It’s going to be hard once it’s over,” he said. “Real hard.”
Maybe it will be easier to take when his team has changed the whole record board in the pool.
“There’s no other way for these guys to finish,” he said. “Moffat County is going to make a name for itself.”
David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 and email@example.com.
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