LOVELAND — For the past two nights, Holy Family swim coach Mary Whitney was up at 2 a.m. in the morning playing all sorts of scenarios in her head for Friday and Saturday’s Tri-Valley League swim championships at Thompson Valley High School.
When it was reduced to a one day event after the snow storm halted day one, it only upped the anxiety.
Whitney and her staff knew they had a chance to do something special in their first year, and they did it on Saturday night. The Tigers swept all three relays and won three individual events en route to the Tri-Valley League title. Holy Family scored 321 points to Berthoud’s 279.
“What a day! There are just no words to describe the feeling that I have,” said Whitney, after taking the celebratory plunge with her team after the scores were announced. “Every single person was so key to winning this whole thing.
“And I’ve never seen anything like it from a team that didn’t even exist at the beginning of the year to winning a league championship … I simply have no words.”
The key was the relays, which are worth double the points of all of the individual events. The Tigers knew if they could win all three, they would put pressure on Berthoud to drop times across the board.
It started out with a bang in the opening 200-yard medley relay. The team of Abby Philipsen, Olivia Zuhoski, Ella Chapman and Sydney Brooker went a season best 1 minute, 55.53 seconds to edge the Spartans by less than a second at the wall.
But maybe the highlight of the night came later in the 200 freestyle relay. Berthoud’s seed time was almost two seconds faster than Holy Family’s, but the Tigers quartet of Anna Martinez (who won the 50 freestyle earlier in the meet), Chapman, Zuhoski and Summer Norwell jumped out to a body length lead and then Norwell held off Berthoud’s Abby Dodd at the wall. The Tigers went a season low 1:47.36 to the Spartans’ 1:47.77.
“The way we came together in the relays was so insane,” said Chapman, who swam the past three seasons for Wheat Ridge High School. “We were all able to jump on each other and hug, knowing that we finally did it with all this hard work. I’ve never been more proud of my teammates and coaches.”
And to cap the night, the Tigers put a bow on their Tri-Valley League championship with a victory in the 400 free relay. The pressure was off a little bit after Berthoud was forced to withdrawn from the event due to an injury, so all Philipsen, Jadyn Abeyta, Martinez and Brooker had to do was swim a clean race. And they did, finishing in 3:57.13.
“I honestly thought in my years of high school that I would never even get close to placing at league and coming together as a team, as a whole and winning all the relays is just mind-blowing to me,” said Chapman, who will lead a strong contingent of Tigers swimmers to the Class 3A state meet next Friday and Saturday at the VMAC in Thornton.
“I just don’t even have words for it, it is crazy to me.”
Said Whitney: ” To win all three relays the way that we did is huge. To win any relay at a league championship is huge, but for these girls to pull out whatever this was and every girl dropping time in every single event, I’ve never seen this before and it’s just an incredible experience.”
In addition to Martinez’s victory in the 50 free, going 26.04 seconds, the Tigers also got victories from Brooker in the 500 free (5:49.58) and from Philipsen in the 100 backstroke (58.93).
Now the focus is clearly on the state meet, and all three of the seniors — Martinez, Chapman and Brooker — have been there and done that. There words of advice to their younger teammates this week will be invaluable.
“I’m just going to tell them to keep it cool because there are going to probably be twice as many girls as there was here,” Chapman said. “But I feel like if we come together as a team again, like we did here, we will have a good chance with our relays at state and a good chance overall of placing in the top ten.”
TRI-VALLEY LEAGUE SWIMMING AND DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS
At Dick Hewson Aquatic Center (Thompson Valley H.S.)
Team scores — Holy Family 321, Berthoud 279, Liberty Common 202, Eaton 122, Holyoke 106, Estes Park 100, Valley 93, Skyline 71.
200-yard medley relay — 1. Holy Family (Philipsen, Zuhoski, Chapman, Brooker) 1:55.53; 2. Berthoud 1:56.47; 3. Liberty Common 1:57.18.
200 freestyle — 1. Lexi Bruntz, Eaton, 2:05.14; 2. Abby Dodd, Berthoud, 2:10.11; 3. Summer Norwell, Holy Family, 2:10.72.
200 IM — 1. Jamie Dellwardt, Berthoud, 2:14.90; 2. Abby Philipsen, Holy Family, 2:15.67; 3. Emily Jauch, Liberty Common, 2:22.44.
50 free — 1. Anna Martinez, Holy Family, 26.04; 2. Marin Kasperbauer, Berthoud, 26.68; 3. Aimee Johnston, Liberty Common, 27.01.
Diving — 1. Morgan Kram, Skyline, 379.35 pts.; 2. Sadie Morgan, Estes Park, 345.70 pts.; 3. Sarah McCormick, Berthoud, 332.40 pts.
100 butterfly — 1. Kysa Keck, Berthoud, 1:05.12; 2. Aimee Johnston, Liberty Common, 1:05.38; 3. Megan Zupancic, Liberty Common, 1:06.44.
100 free — 1. Lexi Bruntz, Eaton, 56.37; 2. Abby Dodd, Berthoud, 59.28; 3. Marin Kasperbauer, Berthoud, 59.56.
500 free — 1. Sydney Brooker, Holy Family, 5:49.58; 2. Hannah Roberts, Berthoud, 5:56.11; 3. Summer Norwell, Holy Family, 6:03.23.Brooker)
200 free relay — 1. Holy Family (Martinez, Chapman, Zuhoski, Norwell) 1:47.36; 2. Berthoud 1:47.77; 3. Liberty Common 1:50.00.
100 backstroke — 1. Abby Philipsen, Holy Family, 58.93; 2. Jamie Dellwardt, Berthoud, 1:00.39; 3. Megan Zupancic, Liberty Common, 1:06.24.
100 breaststroke — 1. Emily Jauch, Liberty Common, 1:08.57; 2. Olivia Zuhoski, Holy Family, 1:14.51; 3. Arika Beard, Berthoud, 1:14.71.
400 free relay — 1. Holy Family (Philipsen, Abeyta, Martinez, Brooker) 3:57.13; 2. Liberty Common 3:59.91; 3. Holyoke 4:07.09.