Girls Swimming: Rangeview retains top spot at APS Championship meet

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Rangeview captains Peyton Bogue, left, Emily Haag, center and Lauren Graff pose with the Aurora Public Schools Championship meet plaque won by the Raiders at the 28th annual meet on Jan. 27, 2018, at Rangeview High School. The Raiders won 10 events — including two by Graff — and topped the other three APS programs for the 15th consecutive season. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

AURORA | Like most swimmers, Keaghan Banaitis likes to imagine she’s an Olympian when she’s in the water.

The Rangeview junior felt especially like one Jan. 27 during the 500 yard freestyle at the Aurora Public Schools Championship meet, where she opened up a big advantage on her way to winning the event for a third straight year.

Banaitis posted a 14-second win in the 500 and an eight-second victory in the 200 freestyle and swam on two winning relays as the Raiders won the APS title for a 15th straight season.

“I like the separation I get from the other girls, it makes me feel like Katie Ledecky,” said Banaitis, referring to the American multiple-time Olympic gold medalist known for her sizeable margins of victory.

“It’s a lot of fun.”

Rangeview junior Keaghan Banaitis gives a thumbs up before her victory in the championship final of the 200 yard freestyle at the Aurora Public Schools Championship girls swim meet on Jan. 27, 2018, at Rangeview High School. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

Banaitis kept her individual record perfect over the last three years at the APS meet with her two distance freestyle wins, junior Lauren Graff and sophomore Jasmine Johnson also won twice and junior diver Sarah Mortenson and sophomore Haley Zant also were victorious for Rangeview, which racked up 483 points.

Coach Peter Girard’s Raiders finished the regular season undefeated and now turn their attention towards doing something they’ve never done before, winning the EMAC Championship meet.

“The girls swam great yesterday (in prelims) and today and it was a great prep for leagues,” Girard said, referring to the Feb. 2-3 meet at the Veterans’ Memorial Aquatic Center.

“A lot of girls had best times or were sitting right at best times, so we’ll see if we can parlay that into something at leagues,” he added. “Something better than second.”

Rangeview had plenty of encouraging signs that it’s ready to make a run at the elusive title.

Among them: Banaitis has her eyes on the EMAC title after breaking the 6-minute mark in the 500 freestyle in both prelims (when she went a lifetime best time of 5 minutes, 54.79 seconds), Graff seems to have discovered a new event to excel in with the 100 butterfly and Mortenson set the program’s 11-dive record with her 438.05-point performance.

The Raiders believe they are ready for a big performance.

“I think we’re really motivated, especially coming off our regular season undefeated and knowing that Northglenn put their best lineup against ours,” said Graff, the APS champion in the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke.

“We’re really excited and motivated to win,” she added. “We want that first place since we’ve never been able to experience it before.”

The Raiders also hope the competition at the league meet elevates their performance enough to get their 200 medley and 200 freestyle relay teams past the Class 5A state-qualifying threshold.

Johnson, who won the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke, is also still looking for state-qualifying times after making it a year ago.

Mortenson is already headed to the Feb. 8-10 5A meet at the Edora Pool & Ice Center and tuned up with a performance that put her in front of the Raiders’ previous-best 11-dive score of 409.55 posted by Angie Hungerford in 1996.

Zant repeated as the meet’s 100 freestyle champion.

Considering Rangeview’s depth, Hinkley coach Beth Himes knew her team was likely destined for a second-place finish for a fourth straight season.

That’s just where the Thunderbirds ended up, but they did it with some flair with 338 points.

In her previous two APS meets, Hinkley junior Emely Canales finished second in three individual events and four relays, but she got a championship in both the 50 freestyle and with the 200 freestyle relay this time around.

Canales touched out Rangeview’s Irene Kim and Zant — the 2017 champion in the event — for the 50 free title in the race of the day and finished a 200 freestyle relay win for her team of Allannah Staggs, Brissa Zamora and Stacey Garay.

“Emely says she always likes to have somebody to race,” Himes said. “When she has somebody right next to her, she will race them and she’s out to win it.”

The Thunderbirds had 11 swimmers make at least one championship final and Daniela Chavez and Destiny Gandara made two each.

Aurora Central scored 142 points, which marked the most it had at the meet since 2011 and it also moved into third place for the first time since that same year.

Coach Sarah Ferris Remington said the Trojans set a goal of getting six swimmers back for finals and they surpassed that with 11.

“The girls really outdid themselves in prelims and I’m really proud of them,” Ferris Remington said. “We had some close dual meets, so we thought we might be able to come in third today and we really pushed for that.”

Gateway finished fourth in Kathy Andrie’s first season as head coach.

The Olys finished in front of Aurora Central in all three relays, but their point total took a hit when both of their championship finalists got disqualified.

The meet concluded with a good-natured relay race between a team of coaches from the four APS programs against a collection of team captains, an event organized by Himes to commemorate Roy Swift, a freshman dean and lower level girls basketball coach at the school who unexpectedly passed away a few weeks earlier.

Hinkley swimmers collected donations as well, with proceeds going to the college funds of Swift’s two young children.

Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel

28TH AURORA PUBLIC SCHOOLS CHAMPIONSHIP GIRLS SWIM MEET

Jan. 27 at Rangeview High School

Team scores: 1. Rangeview 482 points; 2. Hinkley 338; 3. Aurora Central 142; 4. Gateway 110

APS champions: 200 yard medley relay — 1. Rangeview (Alyssa Yamada, Faith McFann, Gaby Sandoval, Tristyn DiPentino), 2 minutes, 16.75 seconds; 200 yard freestyle — 1. Keaghan Banaitis (Rangeview), 2 minutes, 14.37 seconds; 200 yard individual medley — 1. Jasmine Johnson (Rangeview), 2 minutes, 26.34 seconds; 50 yard freestyle: — 1. Emely Canales (Hinkley), 28.38 seconds; 1-meter diving — 1. Sarah Mortenson (Rangeview), 438.05 points; 100 yard butterfly — 1. Lauren Graff (Rangeview), 1 minute, 10.95 seconds; 100 yard freestyle — 1. Haley Zant (Rangeview), 1 minute, 1.67 seconds; 500 yard freestyle — 1. Keaghan Banaitis (Rangeview), 5 minutes, 59.15 seconds; 200 yard freestyle relay — 1. Hinkley (Allannah Staggs, Brissa Zamora, Stacey Garay, Emely Canales), 2 minutes, 1.99 seconds; 100 yard backstroke — 1. Lauren Graff (Rangeview), 1 minute, 10.44 seconds; 100 yard breaststroke — 1. Jasmine Johnson (Rangeview), 1 minute, 15.22 seconds; 400 yard freestyle relay — 1. Rangeview (Haley Zant, Irene Kim, Keaghan Banaitis, Jasmine Johnson), 4 minutes, 12.38 seconds

Full 2018 APS Championship meet results, here