Projections before the Class 5A girls state swim meet had Fossil Ridge and Fairview battling it out for the state championship.
That proved to be quite accurate, as the two northern teams swam away from the field Feb. 9-10 at the Edora Pool & Ice Center in Fort Collins and the powerhouse SaberCats finished on top.
After that, Regis Jesuit threw the pre-state projections right out the window. Projected to finish 10th in what appeared to be a field of parity in the middle, coach Nick Frasersmith’s Raiders again rose to the occasion in a big way and cruised to a strong third-place showing.
“I was really happy with the way the girls swam; they really stepped up when they needed to,” said Frasersmith, whose program has never finished outside of the top four since it moved to 5A in 2007.
“I was surprised by the margin we had for third place,” he added. “I was nervous going in. You had certain expectations to have some swimmers move up and there were definitely some dominant teams there, but the amount of points we scored with our prelim performance was super awesome.”
Indeed, the Raiders (who accrued 235 points to the 107 they were slated to have based on pre-meet psych sheets) weren’t even close to being touched for third place with a 70-point margin over Centennial League powerhouse Arapahoe and 104 over Continental League champ Rock Canyon.
Every single Regis Jesuit championship or consolation finals qualifier for Regis Jesuit in the swimming events, including relays — 14 in all — moved up from pre-meet projections and some were big movers.
The Raiders’ 200 medley relay team of Parker Biley, Sophia Bradac, Hayley Cook and Rachel Hubka got the ball rolling with its third-place finish, a huge rise from the No. 13 seed it came into the meet with.
The Raiders’ season-best performance — an All-American consideration time of 1 minute, 46.08 seconds — came in a race in which Fossil Ridge not only set Colorado and 5A state meet records with its 1:38.13, but shattered the national record as well.
Junior Claire Brennan made a huge jump in the 200 freestyle as the No. 26 seed coming in and turned in a fourth-place finish to start the ball rolling for Regis Jesuit.
Bradac and fellow sophomore Biley (who sang the national anthem over the public address system to open the meet) both made double-digit jumps in the 200 IM — Biley from 22nd to sixth and Bradac from 27th to 13th — to keep the momentum going.
Juniors Brennan and Meriel Upton and sophomores Biley, Bradac, and Jada Surrell-Norwood — who was runner-up to Fossil Ridge sprint star Kylee Alons in the 100 freestyle and third in the 50 free — each made it back in two individual events, all three relays placed in the top three and senior Anne Marie Kenny contributed an eighth-place finish on the diving board in a very strong showing.
Best of all for Frasersmith, only two scoring individuals — Kenny and 16th-place 100 backstroker Dani Carr — graduate. The Raiders expect to have more points returning than Fossil Ridge next season and could make a run against Fairview for a trophy next year.
“On the bus ride back home, we were already looking at that,” Frasersmith said. “Preplanning for next year, we didn’t have a senior on any of our relays. It makes it exciting to think what we can do if we can hold those relays together and get more competitive.”
Grandview also exceeded its pre-state projected spot of 19th with a climb to 11th, thanks in part to all three relay teams posting top-15 finishes.
To supplement the strength in the relays — which all improved on their pre-meet seedings to finish 10th in the 200 & 400 freestyles and 15th in the 200 medley — coach Karen Ammon’s Wolves got a pair of scoring swims from junior Lyssa Wood.
Wood qualified for the finals of the 500 freestyle for the second straight season and added an eighth to her sixth from 2017. Wood also moved up 13 spots from her pre-meet seeding to finish 12th in the 200 freestyle.
Freshman diver Catherine Rodocker followed up her runner-up finish at the Centennial “A” League meet with a 10th-place showing in her state debut.
The Wolves also have a lot to look forward to next season as all swimmers save seniors Simone Cade (who swam on both freestyle relays) and Sam Hufford (who swam on one relay) expect to return.
Freshman Jadyn Phillips competed on all three placing relays, fellow frosh Julia Matney swam on two relays as did junior Molly Nankey, while sophomore Lily Williams swam on one for Grandview.
Smoky Hill finished exactly where it was projected to come in — 14th — with two double-event scoring individuals and two placing relays leading the way for coach Scott Cohen’s group.
Senior Natalie Rotondo surpassed her pre-meet seeding to collect 11th in the 100 butterfly and while she wasn’t able to match her seeding in the 200 freestyle of fourth, she added points for her 11th-place finish.
Sophomore Maggie Robben battled through illness to make consolation finals in the 200 IM and 100 breaststroke, while junior diver Jaclyn Santiago chipped in with a 16-place finish on the board.
Cherokee Trail’s continued rise this season couldn’t be totally quantified by the four points it put up on the scoreboard.
Senior Christie Yee placed on the diving board for the second straight season as she scored three more points than last season to finish 15th, while the 200 freestyle relay team of Caitlyn Agee-Keys, Madison Houtkooper, Kaity Brookes and Sarah Torline moved up three spots from pre-meet projections to grab 16th for coach Kevin Chatham’s Cougars.
Rangeview junior diver Sarah Mortenson placed for the second year in a row to again put the Raiders on the scoreboard.
Mortenson’s progress was evident, as she went from 16th in 2017 to 13th this season and tallied 415.40 points to the 379 she had a year ago.
Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel
AURORA INDIVIDUAL & RELAY PLACERS AT 2018 CLASS 5A GIRLS STATE SWIMMING AND DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS
Full meet results, here
CHEROKEE TRAIL: Christie Yee (15th, 1-meter diving); Relay — 200 freestyle relay (Caitlyn Agee-Keys, Madison Houtkooper, Kaity Brookes, Sarah Torline), 16th
GRANDVIEW: Catherine Rodocker (10th, 1-meter diving); Lyssa Wood (8th, 500 yard freestyle/12th, 200 yard freestyle); Relays — 200 yard medley relay (Lyssa Wood, Julia Matney, Jadyn Phillips, Molly Nankey), 15th; 200 yard freestyle relay (Jadyn Phillips, Lily Williams, Molly Nankey, Simone Cade), 10th & 400 yard freestyle relay (Sam Hufford, Jadyn Phillips, Simone Cade, Lyssa Wood), 10th
RANGEVIEW: Sarah Mortenson (13th, 1-meter diving)
REGIS JESUIT: Parker Biley (6th, 200 yard individual medley/13th, 100 yard backstroke); Sophia Bradac (5th, 100 yard breaststroke/13th, 200 yard individual medley); Claire Brennan (4th, 200 yard freestyle/12th, 100 yard freestyle); Dani Carr (16th, 100 yard backstroke); Rachel Hubka (12th, 50 yard freestyle); Franna Hutchens (15th, 100 yard butterfly); Anne Marie Kenny (8th, 1-meter diving); Ava Leege (16th, 200 yard individual medley); Manna Nelson (15th, 500 yard freestyle); Jada Surrell-Norwood (2nd, 100 yard freestyle (All-American Consideration)/3rd, 50 yard freestyle (All-American Consideration); Meriel Upton (6th, 200 yard freestyle/7th, 100 yard freestyle); Courtney Vale (15th, 100 yard breaststroke); Relays — 200 yard medley relay (Parker Biley, Sophia Bradac, Hayley Cook, Rachel Hubka), 3rd (All-American Consideration); 200 yard freestyle relay (Meriel Upton, Izzie Capra, Rachel Hubka, Jada Surrell-Norwood), 3rd (All-American Consideration) & 400 yard freestyle relay (Meriel Upton, Parker Biley, Sophia Bradac, Jada Surrell-Norwood), 2nd (All-American Consideration)
SMOKY HILL: Maggie Robben (14th, 200 yard individual medley/14th, 100 yard breaststroke); Natalie Rotondo (10th, 200 yard freestyle/T11th, 100 yard butterfly); Jaclyn Santiago (16th, 1-meter diving); Relays — 200 yard medley relay (Kristina Domashevich, Maggie Robben, Natalie Rotondo, Brieyana Walton), 10th; 200 yard freestyle relay (Brieyana Walton, Maggie Robben, Katie Power, Natalie Rotondo), 13th