THORNTON — For the Legacy girls swim team, finishing the Class 5A state swimming championships with more points than they have scored the past couple of years was seemingly a breeze entering this season.
But at this weekend's Front Range League Championships, the Lightning showed signs that they are ready to blow their previous seasons' results out of the water.
A second place team finish at the Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center in Thornton was just what the girls needed to see prior to next week's state finale that will take place at the very same venue.
"This is probably the highest we've ever placed at this meet and I'm really proud of my team," said sophomore Shannon Feran, who finished second in the 50 free (24.70 seconds) and third in the 100 butterfly (57.97) on Saturday. "The team has improved so much and we are swimming really fast.
"It makes me very excited to see what we can do at state."
As the only individual to score points at last year's state meet for LHS, Feran knows from last year just how far she and her teammates have come along. In fact, the past three years has seen Legacy score two, three and zero points.
While the three Lightning relay teams appear to be in position to finish top 18 come Thursday's 5A preliminaries, it also appears Feran will have some company in the individual events, as well.
"Definitely," Feran said.
Bella Walters, Sophia Romero and Mikaela Romano are just a few girls that had top-20 rankings in 5A (according to PrepSwimCo.com's most recent set of rankings), and all four of those girls had some excellent finishes to separate their team from the likes of Monarch, Loveland and Rocky Mountain.
Lizzy Nielsen also had the back half of her meet absolutely stacked, but she came through in the 100 free (fourth), the 500 free (seventh) and in her legs of the 200 and 400 free relays where LHS finished second and third, respectively.
Legacy head coach Diana Wiles viewed the FRL meet all season long as the meet to gear up for, and in going 6-0 in duals the Lightning showed her they were in for a big day Saturday. Young as they are, they did not disappoint.
Only juggernaut Fossil Ridge, a heavy favorite for the team title, finished with more points (938) than Legacy (604).
"I had a feeling we would do well, just because we have a lot of depth this year and we came in strong," said Wiles, whose team also had divers Georgia Brookstein and Taylor Clark finish in the top seven. "We weren't going to compete with Fossil, but Rocky Mountain, Monarch ... we were aiming for top three.
"We have a young team. But they know how to compete, and they swim to win. I'm not worried about (their youth) come state. I think my personnel decisions are what I have to careful with, but if I am up front with how we're going to do things, I think they'll rise to the occasion."
Monarch, Broomfield, and Boulder all had some strong individual events, while Fairview did not send its most elite contenders to this meet as it gets ready to attempt to defend its 5A team title from last year.
Monarch's relays all finished top-four with Randi Rens being a part of two of those (200 medley, 400 free); MoHi freshman Katey Lewicki finished fourth in the 100 backstroke (58.86); and Broomfield sophomore Jillian Martin placed second in the 200 free (1:56.38) and sixth in the fly (59.88).
Boulder's Emilia Culberson, a freshman, stuck out for the Panthers in that she swam a stellar 200 IM in the "C" final — winning her heat by more than four seconds to get a state cut — and following that up with a seventh place 100 free finish (55.59).
"I was stuck at the same times for quite awhile, but breaking through the way I did felt really, really good," Culberson said. "Listening to my coach and being able to actually apply it paid off. The competition helped a lot, too."
Of note, Fossil Ridge broke six league records to continue their assault on the state swimming scene.
Front Range League Championships
Team scores — Fossil Ridge 938, Legacy 604, Monarch 458, Loveland 416, Rocky Mountain 415, Fort Collins 285, Broomfield 280, Mountain Range 267, Fairview 239, Horizon 221, Greeley West 221, Poudre 164, Boulder 147.
200 medley relay — 1. Fossil Ridge (Stewart, Kovac, Gillilan, Niemann), 1:45.97#; 2. Loveland, 1:51.87; 3. Monarch (Lewicki, Atkinson, Rens, Barjenbruch), 1:53.65; 5. Legacy (Walters, Romano, Hamp, Bingham), 1:55.33.
200 freestyle — 1. Erin Lang, Loveland, 1:54.92; 2. Jillian Martin, Broomfield, 1:56.38; 3. Madeleine Mason, Fossil Ridge, 1:58.19; 7. Sidney Trimm, Monarch, 2:04.56; 8. Squid Morgenstein, Monarch, 2:05.35.
200 IM — 1. Emily Barrier, Rocky Mountain, 2:06.10; 2. Bailey Stewart, Fossil Ridge, 2:07.48; 3. Bailey Kovac, Fossil Ridge, 2:08.16; 5. Bella Walters, Legacy, 2:13.75; 6. Randi Rens, Monarch, 2:13.78; 8. Katey Lewicki, Monarch, 2:18.38.
50 freestyle — 1. Coleen Gillilan, Fossil Ridge, 24.04; 2. Shannon Feran, Legacy, 24.70; 3. Sophia Romero, Legacy, 24.92; 5. Stephanie Tymoszuk, Monarch, 25.52; 7. Peyton Tran, Legacy, 25.62.
Diving — 1. Taylor Jackson, Mountain Range, 486.15; 2. Georgia Brookstein, Legacy, 459.70; 3. Rachel Holland, Rocky Mountain, 454.35; 5. Katie Conn, Broomfield, 398.05; 7. Taylor Clark, Legacy, 390.45; 8. Rya Muller, Fairview, 358.90.
100 butterfly — 1. Kylee Alons, Fossil Ridge, 54.33#: 2. Emily Barrier, Rocky Mountain, 57.45; 3. Shannon Feran, Legacy, 57.97; 5. Sophia Romero, Legacy, 59.72; 6. Jillian Martin, Broomfield, 59.88.
100 freestyle — 1. Zoe Bartel, Fossil Ridge, 52.06; 2. Madeleine Mason, Fossil Ridge, 53.72; 3. Andrea Niemann, Fossil Ridge, 54.21; 4. Lizzy Nielsen, Legacy, 54.86; 7. Emilia Culberson, Boulder, 55.59; 8. Randi Rens, Monarch, 55.65.
500 freestyle — 1. Josie Carpenter, Greeley West, 5:10.61; 2. CJ Kovac, Fossil Ridge, 5:10.94; 3. Madi Hunter, Fort Collins, 5:19.87; 4. Rebecca Thompson, Broomfield, 5:20.20; 7. Lizzy Nielsen, Legacy, 5:28.18.
200 free relay — 1. Fossil Ridge (Alons, Niemann, Gillilan, Bartel), 1:34.79#; 2. Legacy (Feran, Tran, Romero, Nielsen), 1:41.38; 3. Rocky Mountain, 1:41.45; 4. Monarch (Mitchell, Webster, Atkinson, Tymoszuk), 1:43.50; 6. Broomfield (Martin, Henehan, Martinez, Kerwin), 1:45.22.
100 backstroke — 1. Kylee Alons, Fossil Ridge, 54.72#; 2. Bayley Stewart, Fossil Ridge, 55.05; 3. Erin Lang, Loveland, 57.85; 4. Katey Lewicki, Monarch, 58.86; 5. Bella Walters, Legacy, 59.57; 6. Kandice Chandra, Legacy, 1:00.37.
100 breaststroke — 1. Zoe Bartel, Fossil Ridge, 1:02.13#; 2. Coleen Gillilan, Fossil Ridge, 1:03.22; 3. Bailey Kovac, Fossil Ridge, 1:05.45; 8. Mikaela Romano, Legacy, 1:10.54.
400 free relay — 1. Fossil Ridge (Bartel, B. Kovac, Stewart, Alons), 3:29.39#; 2. Rocky Mountain (Fromme, Gilsdorf, McRoberts, Barrier), 3:38.70; 3. Legacy (Feran, Chandra, Romero, Nielsen), 3:40.34; 4. Monarch (Tymoszuk, Barjenbruch, Webster, Rens), 3:46.54; 6. Broomfield (Thompson, Bratcher, Kerwin, Martin), 3:52.91.
# — denotes meet record