THORNTON — The performance of the Fossil Ridge girls swim team at the Class 5A state championship meet this weekend might have left a lot of other teams green with envy.
But while the Sabercats did some things that haven't been seen on a state level in a long time — if ever — on Friday night at the Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center in Thornton, Fairview senior Brittney Beetcher was poised to make her own way into state history.
It took a crazy-good final turn in the 200 freestyle and another endurance test in the 500 free a bit later on, but Beetcher was successful in defending her two individual state titles from a year ago and capping her final prep season as only she knew how: on top of the podium with gold hardware in hand.
Though she was a favorite to win the titles as a junior after finishing second in both events as a sophomore, the feeling was entirely different this year.
"Last year after winning, it was more of a 'Yay, I did it' thing and at the beginning of the year I wasn't thinking about (defending) too much," Beetcher said. "But in January, it was kind of like yeah, you are defending two titles. The last month and a half, it's been in the back of my brain and it made it a lot easier to train harder, for sure."
The 200 free, which was stacked with three FHS girls in the championship final, was closer than what Beetcher might have imagined. Fossil Ridge's Cameron Kovac and Arapahoe's Delaney Smith were right at her head in the final 25 yards. Beetcher was able to create some great separation in the turn, however, and finished the race in 1 minute, 50.46 seconds. Smith was second in 1:51.35.
"I was nervous going into it, but I was confident with my training. It was just fun to race those girls," said Beetcher, who was named the swimmer of the year. "I saw them all next to me and just told myself to get going. I've been working hard on my turns and on that final one I just knew I had to kick my under-waters really hard. Then, it was just 'Don't look and put your head down.'"
The 500 free was a little more of a breeze — if one can call the event's longest race a walk in the park. For the second year in a row, Beetcher was the only girl to go sub-5 minutes (4:57.58). Teammate Amelie Lessing, one of a standout group of Fairview sophomores, took second at 5:03.90.
Just how dominant was Fossil Ridge this year? Fairview, last year's champion with 288 points, scored 46 more points this year (334) and still finished a distant second behind the Sabercats (390). Fossil won nine of 11 swimming events, set three state records and nearly added a fourth in the 400 free relay.
For Fairview, in fact, its 2017 total is the most the team has ever scored.
"We had our best team in school history, but we just happened to come up against the best team in state history," FHS head coach Bob Smartt said of the Sabercats, coached by Carolyn Fries.
The Knights had two events (200 IM, 100 fly) in which five girls qualified for the finals during Friday's prelims — one team can only have a maximum of four girls per event. Still, they had 23 swims on Friday to score points.
Lessing (also 4th in the IM), Mikayla Seigal (fifth place in both the 200 free and 100 butterfly) and Alex Schwier (fifth in the IM and seventh in the 100 breaststroke) stood out, but the entire sophomore class along with junior Cailen Chinn put up a great effort.
"Everyone played a major role tonight, so I think everyone did a great job as a team," said Seigal, who was also on two FHS relays that came in fourth place. "I felt good about my swims, even though I was a bit anxious for the 200 free. But after I saw it, I was happy with the time for sure."
"They're are just a bunch of girls that have improved so dramatically in the sophomore class, and they made a gigantic contribution today," Smartt said. "That class, it's special."
After a tough preliminary session for Legacy, the Lightning returned to the pool with two scoring relays (11th place in both 200 medley and 400 free). The highlight for LHS at its home pool, however, was a sixth place diving finish for Georgia Brookstein — who scored a 435.90.
Brookstein has been a club diver for a few years, but this was her first season of high school competition and she finished with a bang. The junior was sixth after the semifinals and was able to retain that position in front of a big crowd.
"It was a nice experience to see how it all came out, and all the girls were great," Brookstein said. "I didn't compete in a lot of meets during the season but I feel like I've improved every time through practice and getting experience with how the meets are structured."
Monarch and Boulder each finished with 27 points, with the Panthers' Grace Valette swimming to a seventh place finish in the 200 free. Boulder's 200 free relay — with three freshmen — dropped a tenth of a second from prelims, as well, to finish 12th.
Broomfield's Jillian Martin, a promising sophomore, finished 11th in both the 100 free and 200 free.
Class 5A State Championships
At Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center
Team scores — Fossil Ridge 390, Fairview 334, Arapahoe 221, Regis Jesuit 219, Lewis-Palmer 155, Rock Canyon 125, Cherry Creek 104, Mountain Vista 99, Grandview 98, Rocky Mountain 93, ThunderRidge 76, Smoky Hill 72, Douglas County 72, Chatfield 50, Columbine 38, Legacy 37, Legend 30, Monarch 27, Boulder 27, Cherokee Trail 14, Mountain Range 12, Broomfield 12, Pomona 7, Ralston Valley 6, Lakewood 3, Chaparral 2, Rangeview 1.
200 medley relay — 1. Fossil Ridge (Stewart, Bartel, Gillilan, Niemann), 1:39.40*; 2. Fairview (Tapley, Schwier, Lanaghen, Reznicek), 1:44.63; 3. Mountain Vista, 1:46.63; 11. Legacy (Walters, Romano, Romero, Feran), 1:51.46; 14. Monarch (Lewicki, Atkinson, Trimm, Tymoszuk), 1:52.21.
200 freestyle — 1. Brittney Beetcher, Fairview, 1:50.46; 2. Delaney Smith, Arapahoe, 1:51.35; 3. Cameron Kovac, Fossil Ridge, 1:51.39; 5. Mikayla Seigal, Fairview, 1:52.99; 6. Cailen Chinn, Fairview, 1:55.19; 7. Grace Valette, Boulder, 1:55.83; 11. Jillian Martin, Broomfield, 1:56.68.
200 IM — 1. Zoe Bartel, Fossil Ridge, 1:59.48; 2. Bailey Kovac, Fossil Ridge, 2:02.97; 3. Bayley Stewart, Fossil Ridge, 2:03.66; 4. Amelie Lessing, Fairview, 2:02.15; 5. Alex Schwier, Fairview, 2:08.91; 8. Morgan Simon, Fairview, 2:09.71; 9. Mya Drost-Parra, Fairview, 2:07.53.
50 freestyle — 1. Kylee Alons, Fossil Ridge, 22.64; 2. Meredith Rees, Lewis-Palmer, 23.25; 3. Coleen Gillilan, Fossil Ridge, 23.28; 13. Kaia Reznicek, Fairview, 24.62; 15. Sidney Trimm, Monarch, 24.91.
Diving — 1. Lexie Barker, Douglas County, 493.25; 2. Franny Cable, Arapahoe, 474.45; 3. Sam Tamborkski, Douglas County, 446.65; 6. Georgia Brookstein, Legacy, 435.90.
100 butterfly — 1. Coleen Gillilan, Fossil Ridge, 53.15*; 2. Natalie Arky, Mountain Vista, 55.57; 3. Kim Lanaghen, Fairview, 56.11; 5. Mikayla Seigal, Fairview, 56.64; 7. Mia Drost-Parra, Fairview, 57.01; 10. Una Forsythe, Fairview, 58.05.
100 freestyle — 1. Kylee Alons, Fossil Ridge, 49.83; 2. Jada Surrell-Norwood, Regis Jesuit, 50.13; 3. Laurek Eiber, Arapahoe, 50.77; 8. Cailen Chinn, Fairview, 52.87; 11. Jillian Martin, Broomfield, 53.19; 14. Sidney Trimm, Monarch, 54.15; 15. Kaia Reznicek, Fairview, 54.21.
500 freestyle — 1. Brittney Beetcher, Fairview, 4:57.58; 2. Amelie Lessing, Fairview, 5:03.90; 3. Patricia Van Law, ThunderRidge, 5:06.21; 10. Morgan Simon, Fairview, 5:11.88; 13. Robin Cruz-Abrams, Fairview, 5:17.64; 16. Grace Valette, Boulder, 5:20.82.
200 free relay — 1. Fossil Ridge (Gillilan, B. Kovac, Niemann, Mason), 1:34.60; 2. Regis Jesuit, 1:35.04; 3. Arapahoe, 1:36.22; 4. Fairview (Seigal, Reznicek, Beetcher, Lessing), 1:36.37; 12. Boulder (Culberson, Warner, Katnik, Valette), 1:42.63; 14. Monarch (Tymoszuk, Webster, Rens, Trimm), 1:43.01.
100 breaststroke — 1. Zoe Bartel, Fossil Ridge, 1:00.22; 2. Caraline Baker, Fossil Ridge, 1:02.94; 3. Delaney Smith, Arapahoe, 1:04.20; 7. Alex Schwier, Fairview, 1:05.88; 12. Isabel Rich, Fairview, 1:07.19.
400 free relay — 1. Fossil Ridge (Bartel, Mason, Stewart, Alons), 3:22.45; 2. Arapahoe, 3:26.06; 3. Regis Jesuit, 3:27.77; 4. Fairview (Seigal, Lessing, Chinn, Beetcher), 3:32.88; 11. Legacy (Romero, Tran, Feran, Nielsen), 3:39.07; 16. Boulder (Valette, Culberson, Warner, Swift), 3:46.06.
* — denotes state record