Jerry McBride/Durango Herald
Jerry McBride/Durango Herald
Friday’s swim meet started and ended with dominating relay victories.
And the Durango High School girls squad found plenty of other reasons to smile sandwiched in between.
The Demons posted four state-qualifying times in three events, won eight events and came out with a convincing victory in a five-team meet at the Fort Lewis College pool in their season-opening event.
Durango totaled 607 points, with Grand Junction in second with 535. Fruita Monument had 406, Montezuma-Cortez 322 and Delta 212.
Not only was it a strong start to the season, the performance gave new DHS head coach Kathryn Ross a win in her first event at the helm. And after battling a little panic trying to get everything in order beforehand, Ross settled in and got a fish-eye view of a pleasing performance.
“I was blown away,” Ross said. “I knew that we had a strong team, and I was excited to see them swim, but they went above and beyond my expectations as far as how they were going to swim.”
A bevy of top-five finishes propelled the Demons to the top, and the opening event set the tone. The 200-yard medley relay team of Brooke Kniffin, Hannah Chapman, Haley Cotgageorge and Annie Mummery stormed to a state-qualifying time of 1 minute, 58.97 seconds, while the DHS team of Haley Warren, Madison Hoven, Kaitlin Barela and Anna Chambers finished second in 2:11.01.
The same four that won the first race capped the evening with another victory in the 400 freestyle relay, winning in 4:08.17, a four-plus second gap over Grand Junction. DHS also took third and fourth in the night’s other relay, the 200 freestyle.
“We swam club together for awhile. And we were like, ‘Wow, you’re good at this stroke; you’re good at this stroke,’” said Kniffin, daughter of Kelly and Rick Kniffin. “And we just fit very well together.”
While Chapman, Cotgageorge and Kniffin have been state qualifiers on multiple occasions, Mummery’s performance may have come as a shock to those not in tune with the local club swimming scene. The freshman swam anchor on both relays and qualified for state in the 100 backstroke, winning the race in 1:03.29, edging out Kniffin, who also qualified for state in 1:04.22. She also won the 100 freestyle, just missing another state cut.
“It’s a lot different than club. The atmosphere’s a lot different here ... and you’re not just swimming for yourself, you’re swimming for your team,” said Mummery, daughter of John and Mary Mummery.
And having such a sleek swimmer in the water and mature mind on the deck isn’t something Ross is complaining about.
“When I first met her the first day, I just assumed she was a senior because she ... has a maturity about her, just seems older,” Ross said.
Not that the experienced swimmers lagged behind. On the contrary – they swam as advertised. Cotgageorge won the 200 individual medley and finished second in the 100 fly, while Kniffin added a state-qualifying time and a win in 26.09 seconds in the 50 free.
Chapman, meanwhile, got her work in and then some. All told, she swam in four events and logged 750 yards total. She also won each event, which included the two victorious relays. Chapman narrowly missed qualifying for state as Durango swept the top three spots in the 500 free: Chapman won in 5:47.38, with Elli Earl and Alle McKown next to finish. The senior also won the 100 breastsroke in 1:16.29.
“She’s a very strong swimmer, and I’m just very happy to have her on this team, as well,” Ross said.
The performance of the divers brought a smile to diving coach Mark Fleming’s face. While Grand Junction’s Grayson Young and Sofie Black swept the top two spots, Demons’ Katie Cunnion, Sarah Lawton and Bonne Matheson were the next three in line, with Caroline Tidwell in 10th.
Fleming said it was Lawton’s first high school diving competition and the second for Cunnion as DHS looks to pick up valuable experience on the board.
Grand Junction’s Taylor Kidd qualified for state by winning the 200 free in 2:05.09, a race in which Durango’s Earl was second and Katie Pannell fourth.
Durango will return to the pool at 9 a.m. today in a meet at Montezuma-Cortez.