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Durango girls swimming wins End of an Era Invite

Demons perform well in final home meet of season

The Durango High School girls swim team likely ended its run at the Fort Lewis College Natatorium on Saturday at aptly-named End of an Era Invitational, as plans are in the works to fill in the pool and convert the building to a weight room.

That didn’t stop the Demons from making the most of senior day, as Durango won the five-team invite with 443 points, Fruita Monument was second with 270 and Gunnison took third with 241. Delta County took fourth with 159 points and Pagosa Springs took fifth with 132.

The Demons picked up five wins on the afternoon, including a team relay, diving and three individual races. Sophomore Angela McManus won the 200-yard freestyle in 2 minutes, 12.70 seconds in the second race of the afternoon. Alexis Behn scored 230.85 points to claim a new personal best in diving. McManus won her second event of the afternoon when she won the 100-yard backstroke in 1:08.97, and Mina Willemin won the 100 butterfly in 1:03.82. The final win came in the 400 freestyle relay as McManus, Mckenzie Rion, Quinn Schmidt and Willemin won in 3:54.40.

Durango senior Acacia Cofman said that while the Demons were tired after Friday’s Southwest Colorado Invite at FLC which also ended in a win, and said she was impressed with how the Demons responded on short rest.

Durango High School hosted on Saturday what could be the last home swim meet at Fort Lewis College. FLC plans on filing in the swimming pool and converting the building to a weight room.

“I think yesterday we were super strong,” Cofman said. “We came out really strong again today. It’s always hard competing in two-day meets just because you’re really tired the second day. But given that it was a two-day meet, I think we really pushed through and everybody did amazing. A lot of the team was tired, it was really high energy because of senior day and it was great to see so many strong performances.”

The Wildcats won the first event of the afternoon in the 200-yard medley relay, as Eliza Codner, Emma Kimbrough, Elisa Elsberry and Autumn Detor won in 2:03. Fruita Monument also won the 100 freestyle as Codner won in 59.36, Kimbrough won the 500 freestyle in 5:35.81 and the 200 freestyle relay team of Codner, Detor, Kimbrough and Taylor Wall won in 1:51.34.

Mina Willemin of Durango High School swims the 100 yard butterfly on Saturday at Fort Lewis College while competing against four other high schools.

For Willemin, she has been impressed with the growth of the team in numbers which stands at 34 members, a record-high under head coach Tom Joyner. She also added that the growth in the pool has been at a fast rate and she believes the program will be strong for years to come.

“Senior day didn’t hit me until I was standing on the blocks and the coaches were recognizing the seniors,” Willemin said. “It felt so empowering because I realized that I made it this far. I’ve seen this program grow in numbers like crazy since I started, and seeing the positive environment, it’s so incredible to see that. The way that everyone has been getting so much better year after year, I think we are going to send a big group of girls to state and hopefully it will continue like that for awhile.”

On the diving board, the Demons were able to get two more state-qualifying performances from Elise Cady, who finished second with 205.55 points and Olivia Mummery took third with 193.55 points. Diving coach Mark Fleming was impressed with the performance.

“It was one of the better meets we’ve had this year,” Fleming said. “Now we have three qualified for state and it’s something that I’m really proud of. They’ve been working on things all year that definitely showed up. They were able to show their improvement from the beginning of the year to today and that was great.”

Delta picked up two wins, as Jillian Carlson won the 200 individual medley in 2:22.97 and she also won the 100-breaststroke in 1:11.42.

For DHS head coach Tom Joyner, Saturday’s win was a good way to end the home season, but said the larger issue at hand is what to do with future home meets in Durango, as the other home site the Demons use is the Durango Community Recreation Center.

“It’s really depressing for one thing,” Joyner said. “We sent it out with a bang, which was good. I think it’s short-sighted to close the pool and it could easily be more marketed to the college and the community. This pool could be a lot more integral to the community if we really wanted it to be. I am super grateful for the pool as we’ve been able to run practices and meets on our dime. The rec center is a good competition pool, but the spectating and insularly stuff such as atmosphere isn’t as good as here. We’re going to be stuck.”

The Demons will travel to Gunnison for their next meet at 4 p.m. Friday.

bploen@durangoherald.com