FORT COLLINS | Swim cap pulled tight and blissfully unaware of the situation, Lindsay Painton capped her prep swim career in fantastic fashion.
The deafening din at the Edora Pool & Ice Center reached its peak when the Regis Jesuit senior won the final event of the Feb. 13 Class 5A girls state swim meet — the 400 yard freestyle relay — which lifted her team into second place in the final standings.
The win by Painton, juniors Samantha Smith and Isabella Schultze and freshman Meriel Upton vaulted the Raiders over Fossil Ridge and into second behind Fairview in very competitive meet. Grandview finished 12th and Smoky Hill 22nd as the rest of the Aurora contingent in the field.
Painton also anchored the 200 yard freestyle relay team to a state title and senior diver McKensi Austin won her third state title for Regis Jesuit, which grabbed a first or second-place trophy at the state meet for the fourth straight season.
“I couldn’t hear anything (in the water), but I could feel it,” said Painton, who touched the wall 0.17 of a second ahead of Arapahoe’s Delaney Smith for the win.
“Both of those relays meant the world to me,” she added. “I did it for my girls and I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”
Regis Jesuit head coach Nick Frasersmith knew his team needed to finish third or better and ahead of Fossil Ridge — which had an early setback when Bailey Kovac was disqualified after winning in the 200 yard individual medley — to finish second, but he chose to deliver a different message to his relay team before the race.
“I took a different approach to the finals; I just told them to go out and have fun,” Frasersmith said. “We knew in the back of our minds what the situation was. They just went out and raced.”
Painton combined with fellow senior Amy Lenderink, junior Jennae Frederick and Upton to win the 200 freestyle relay in yet another exciting finish.
“Oh my gosh, wow! I’ve never been part of a race that was that crazy,” said Lenderink, who won the same event with Painton, Frederick and Taylor Wilson last season.
With a score of 539.90 points, Austin won diving by more than 72 points and was later selected 5A Diver of the Year by coaches. The Georgia-bound star was just as pumped about sophomore teammate Anne Marie Kenny’s sixth-place finish as she was about her win.
“I felt really good today and this was the perfect end to my high school career,” Austin said. “I’m very happy with how today went and how Anne Marie did.”
Making Austin’s win more special was the surprising presence on the deck of first-year diving coach Taylor Roberts, who was just six weeks removed from suffering a heart attack at just 30 years of age.
Lenderink and Painton each nearly won individual titles as well, but they ended up second in the 100 butterfly and 100 freestyle, respectively.
The two captains and fellow senior Emily Protz scored in two individual events as did Smith and Frederick, while senior Kaylie Breslin, Schultze and freshman Claire Brennan had a scoring swim each and Smith, Breslin, Lenderink and freshman Courtney Vale combined to finish second in the 200 medley relay.
“We had an amazing state meet and those freshmen and sophomores are going to come back and kick butt next year,” Lenderink said.
Grandview’s wait for the program’s first individual state champion continues, but senior Mia Wood went down swinging.
Wood — coming off winning her third career Centennial “A” League championship a week earlier — contended for titles both the 200 and 500 freestyles, but Fairview star Brittney Beetcher outlasted her to win both events. Wood’s times (1:52.20 in the 200 and 5:00.25 in the 500) both were All-American Consideration.
She also anchored Grandview to an eighth-place finish in the 400 freestyle relay and ninth place in the 200 freestyle relay. Both teams included fellow seniors April Wood and Ellie Furuta, while junior Taylor Dirks and sophomore Simone Cade each also swam on a relay for coach Karen Ammon’s team.
Dirks won the consolation heat of the 500 freestyle to take ninth (four spots higher than her seed coming in) and April Wood managed a 12th-place result in the 200 individual medley.
Smoky Hill had a pair of individual placers in sophomore Natalie Rotondo and junior Jordyn Richey in addition to two relays that made the consolation finals.
Rotondo, who swam exclusively relays for coach Scott Cohen’s Buffs at last season’s state meet, posted a 10th place finish in the 200 freestyle, while Richey was Aurora’s top finisher in the 100 breaststroke for the second year in a row with her 15th-place result.
Senior Gaby Antunez, junior Jianna Walker and sophomore Brieyana Walton contributed on Smoky Hill’s relay teams.
Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel