THORNTON — Despite one of them being just a freshman and the other being a senior, Longmont's Lucy Matheson and Centaurus' Skylar Riley are both going to commonly remember Saturday's Class 3A state swimming championships for all the right reasons.
For Matheson, it could be the beginning of a special run as a member of the Trojans team. For Riley, the final races of her prep career at the Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center in Thornton were arguably her best ever and helped Centaurus finish strong in the inaugural 3A event.
Both schools were expected to benefit from a move down in classification — where the teams they were competing with were much more similar in numbers — and the Trojans and Warriors came through with top-15 team finishes, as well.
Matheson came into Saturday's finals seeded second in two events, and the VMAC pool proved to be fast. In the 200 individual medley, she finished third even with a six-tenths of a second drop in time from her initial state seed time — Glenwood Springs' Lauren Fetzko was the surprise winner with a time of 2 minutes, 5.84 seconds while Matheson went 2:08.40.
In the 500 free, her favorite race, she was steady at 5:10.76 but bore witness to D'Evelyn's Abbey Selin swimming a considered All-American time of 5:01.15. Selin's time would have earned her second place in the 5A meet.
Not the type to put her head down, Matheson was right back on the bulkhead dancing with teammates prior to the 200 free relay — which the Trojans team of Matheson, Cailyn Eveland, Saffron Kolodziej and Megan Smith placed eighth.
"It's all about having fun, and especially in the relays," Matheson said. "This is one of the biggest state teams that Longmont has had in a while, so today was all about making sure everyone had a great time racing.
"I went around my best time (in the 500), so that was good. And (Selin) is a junior, so I just hope I'm that fast when I'm a junior."
Longmont finished with 79 points, getting a place improvement from freshmen Alice Money in the 500 (finished 15th) and two scoring races from Smith (50 free, 100 free). The Trojans also had diver Taryn Eveland place 10th with a score of 314.85.
"It's really exciting to see Alice break 5:50," Matheson said.
Centaurus topped 100 points at the meet for the first time since 2001, finishing in 11th place with 107. The Warriors had a disappointing start to Friday's preliminaries when their 200 medley relay team was disqualified, but they were determined to make that a rallying point instead of a distraction.
Riley was ecstatic to see the remaining relay teams finish well. The foursome of Riley, Sarah Boyer, Lexi James and Erika Schunk swam both the 200 and 400 free relays to fourth and fifth place, respectively.
Riley rewarded herself with a career-best swim in the 100 backstroke, finishing fifth in 1:00.30. She entered the weekend with the seventh fastest time in 3A.
"It was absolutely incredible, everything that we did for each other," Riley said. "As a senior, knowing that all my teammates put in everything they had and left it all in the pool for me means everything in the world.
"Erika and I both were DQ'd in our 50 free in 4A last year, and it was absolutely heart-breaking. Yesterday, just overcoming that fear of possibly disqualifying again ... and then today doing yourself that much better."
Schunk also moved up nicely in the 100 breaststroke, finishing fifth after coming in as the 11th seed.
Though the 3A state qualification times were much slower than the other two classes, there was no shortage of top-end talent at the meet. St. Mary's Academy senior Alex Reddington capped her career with two gold medal swims, including a 54.09 in the butterfly that would have taken second in 5A. Aspen's Kennidy Quist also had an automatic All-American swim in the 100 free (50.33 seconds) and a considered All-American time in the 50.
With just eight girls, Aspen won the overall team title.
Class 3A State Championships
At Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center
Team scores — Aspen 209, St. Mary's Academy 187, Glenwood Springs 173, D'Evelyn 164, Pueblo County 136, Manitou Springs 129, Kent Denver 127, St. Mary's 120, La Junta 117, Discovery Canyon 114, Centaurus 107, Colorado Academy 98, Salida 86, Green Mountain 84, Longmont 79, Eaton 69, Durango 66, Fountain Valley 54, Estes Park 47, Conifer 45, Montezuma-Cortez 39, Pueblo Central 20, Gunnison 12, Summit 12, Moffat County 10, Thomas Jefferson 7, Holyoke 6, Northfield 4, Denver North 4.
200 medley relay — 1. Aspen (Brown, Quist, Driscoll, Freeman), 1:48.65.
200 freestyle — 1. Alex Reddington, St. Mary's Academy, 1:48.60.
200 IM — 1. Lauren Fetzko, Glenwood Springs, 2:05.84; 3. Lucy Matheson, Longmont, 2:08.40.
50 freestyle — 1. Kennidy Quist, Aspen, 23.50; 7. Skylar Riley, Centaurus, 25.18; 11. Erika Schunk, Centaurus, 25.95; 13. Megan Smith, Longmont, 26.15; 16. Lexi James, Centaurus, 26.53.
Diving — 1. Kaylee Eakman, Pueblo Central, 441.30; 10. Taryn Eveland, Longmont, 314.85.
100 butterfly — 1. Alex Reddington, St. Mary's Academy, 54.09.
100 freestyle — 1. Kennidy Quist, Aspen, 50.33; 14. Megan Smith, Longmont, 58.43.
500 freestyle — 1. Abbey Selin, D'Evelyn, 5:01.53; 2. Lucy Matheson, Longmont, 5:10.72; 15. Alice Money, Longmont, 5:49.58.
200 free relay — 1. Pueblo County (Maurello, Blickensderfer, Krinsky, Musso), 1:41.06; 4. Centaurus (Boyer, Riley, James, Schunk), 1:43.56; 8. Longmont (Smith, C. Eveland, Kolodziej, Matheson), 1:46.40.
100 backstroke — 1. Davy Brown, Aspen, 57.37; 5. Skylar Riley, Centaurus, 1:00.30.
100 breaststroke — 1. Amanda Blickensderfer, Pueblo County, 1:05.26; 5. Erika Schunk, Centaurus, 1:10.89; 15. Sarah Boyer, Centaurus, 1:16.42.
400 free relay — 1. Aspen (Quist, Brown, Driscoll, Freeman), 3:35.05; 5. Centaurus (Riley, Boyer, James, Schunk), 3:49.15; 13. Longmont (Smith, Kolodziej, Brown, Matheson), 3:57.21.