DHS changes lanes in its home pool

Jennaye Derge/Durango Herald

Josh Miller was all over the pool Friday against Gunnison. He anchored the 200 medley relay and 400 freestyle relay and swam the 200 freestyle and 100 breaststroke on his own. He helped Durango to a 498-187 dual victory against Gunnison on Friday at the Durango Community Recreation Center.

By Kyle Grabowski Herald staff writer

Durango High School boys swimming head coach Tom Joyner wanted to push the Demons out of their comfort zones during their home meet against Gunnison.

DHS responded well, winning the meet 498-187 on Friday at the Durango Community Recreation Center.

The final outcome never really was in doubt, though.

DHS put 10 swimmers in the pool, compared to five for the Cowboys, and competed in 11 of the 12 events.

What mattered to Joyner was how his team approached the events and the meet.

“My goal for them was to swim one event that was something they wanted to qualify (for state) in, or something that they wanted to achieve (something) in, and another one that I knew was out of their comfort zone but I knew they could do,” Joyner said.

Ben Miller fit that bill perfectly in the 500 freestyle. He was the only one in the event, and finished his lonely swim in 5 minutes, 25.2 seconds after not swimming the race all season.

“I don’t want to do it at state,” said Miller, son of Deborah and Richard Miller. “But I was happy to swim it to make the meet go better.”

The meet couldn’t have started much better for DHS. Its 200-yard medley relay team of Paul Cross, Ben Miller, Josh Miller and Howard Richards won in 1:55.75.

Josh Miller then immediately turned around and won the 200-yard freestyle in 1:59 after swimming the anchor leg of the previous relay.

Tommy Pannell also swam the 200 freestyle and qualified for state with a 2:00.35.

Richards swam the 200-yard individual medley by himself in 2:33.82.

Gunnison’s Austin Burke blew away the field in the 50 freestyle, finishing nearly three seconds ahead of his closest competitor at 24.79 seconds.

Cross got the better of Burke in the 100 freestyle, however. He took first place with a 55.93, as Burke finished in 57.03.

“You talk about a learning curve and a steep learning curve, he has a steep achievement curve,” Joyner said of Cross. “He’s meteoric. He takes coaching really well.”

DHS then won the 200 freestyle relay with a team of Ben Clark, Cross, Richards and Robert Smith in 1:50.53.

Pannell won the 100-yard backstroke in 1:10.58, which was six seconds ahead of Clark.

Josh Miller won the 100-yard breaststroke in 1:06.59, which only is two seconds away from a state cut, Joyner said.

Ben Miller, Josh Miller, Pannell and Robert Smith swam the 400-yard freestyle relay in 3:56.23, with no other competing teams to finish out the racing events.

“It was still a good meet,” said Josh Miller, Ben’s older brother. “The meet was more about having fun than the competition.”

Ben Miller ended the day with a 161.55 total score in 1-meter diving.

Friday’s meet originally was scheduled for Saturday morning, but it was moved because of the DHS prom Saturday night.

It also was the Demons’ first home meet of the year.

“It definitely boosts your energy level when you can get a good night’s sleep in your own bed,” Ben Miller said. “It’s your own pool; you’re more comfortable.”

DHS will travel to Pueblo for its next meet April 11-12.


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