THORNTON — Sydney Bales has been looking forward to the Front Range League girls swimming championships for months and it showed at Veterans Memorial Aquatics Center on Saturday.
Making her debut as a freshman at the conference championships, Bales made quite the introduction to her FRL contemporaries. Helping lead the Legacy Lightning to a runner-up team finish, the freshman won the 100 backstroke title with a time of 57.22 seconds.
After her performance at the league meet, it looks like Bales is rounding into form just in time for a strong finish to her ninth-grade campaign.
"This was my first league meet and I really liked the energy that was here," Bales said. "Our team did really well and I had a great time swimming with them. Winning the backstroke was really nice. I was really wanting to win that because I was seeded first. I love that race and I get really hyped to swim it every time. I was really hyped up for it and it felt great to win."
Bales, who also placed third in the 100 freestyle, was a big point-scorer for the runner-up Lightning, who made a valiant effort but couldn't catch runaway team champion Fossil Ridge. But she was not alone.
The Lightning placed among the top three eight total times, including three runner-up finishers. The Lightning 200 medley relay team, as well as the 200 and 400 free relay teams, all took second to Fossil Ridge and the Lightning ended up just 180 team points behind the power-packed SaberCats.
With a time of 52.72 seconds, Legacy's Indigo Armon finished second in the 100 freestyle.
"Oh, wow. Those girls swam their hearts out from the moment they touched the water," LHS coach Amber Sullivan said. "They were so excited to swim for Legacy and to be a part of a very invigorating and exciting meet. They represented their school and their community well today.
"We were obviously shooting to win. But we had some amazing individual performances and we were definitely surprised by some of our freshmen getting on the podium in their first year. Our seniors had a great meet as well. We've gotten a couple more state qualifiers his past week so we're thrilled about that and really looking forward to the state meet."
The Monarch Coyotes also landed a handful of runners-up on the podium. Katey Lewicki took second in the 50 freestyle with a time of 24.13, and also in the 100 butterfly with a time of 56.18, and Angeline Settle placed second in the diving competition with a score of 413.90. Celia Webster finished second in the 500 freestyle with a time of 5:16.55 and the Coyotes were sixth in the teams scoring.
Even with most of their top swimmers sitting out the meet in preparation for the upcoming state championships on Feb. 7-9, the Fairview Knights still managed to finish fifth overall.
Boulder finished seventh in the team scoring, an effort led by a third-place finish from Emilia Culberson in the 100 breaststroke. Her time was 1:07.98.
Front Range League Meet
Team scores — Fossil Ridge 834, Legacy 654, Rocky Mountain 476, Horizon 370, Fairview 353, Monarch 332, Boulder 309, Loveland 280, Mountain Range 212, Poudre 210, Fort Collins 146.
200 medley relay — 1. Fossil Ridge, 1:46.58; 2. Legacy 1:51.64; 3. Rocky Mountain, 1:50.22.
200 freestyle — 1. Renee Gillilan, Fossil Ridge, 1:53.32; 2. Erin Lang, Loveland, 1:55.93; 3. Indigo Armon, Legacy, 1:56.58.
200 IM — 1. Coleen Gillilan, Fossil Ridge, 2:01.17; 2. Lucy Bell, Fossil Ridge, 2:06.83; 3. Charlotte Fie'eiki, Horizon, 2:08.55.
50 freestyle — 1. Meredith Smithbaker, Rocky Mountain, 23.21; 2. Katey Lewicki, Monarch, 24.13; 3. Renee Gillilan, Fossil Ridge, 24.27.
Diving — 1. Ally Brown, Horizon, 472.65; 2. Angeline Settle, Monarch, 413.90; 3. Rya Muller, Fairview, 412.40.
100 butterfly — 1. Lucy Bell, Fossil Ridge, 54.86; 2. Katey Lewicki, Monarch, 56.18; 3. Charlotte Fie'eiki, Horizon, 56.37.
100 freestyle — 1. Meredith Smithbaker, Rocky Mountain, 51.25; 2. Indigo Armon, Legacy, 52.72; 3. Sydney Bales, Legacy, 53.84.
500 freestyle — 1. Coleen Gillilan, Fossil Ridge, 5:11.41; 2. Celia Webster, Monarch, 5:16.55; 3. Shannon Feran, 5:22.05.
M200 free relay — 1. Fossil Ridge, 1:38.42; 2. Legacy, 1:38.66; 3. Rocky Mountain, 1:39.76.
100 backstroke — 1. Sydney Bales, Legacy, 57.22; 2. Erin Lang, Loveland, 57.30; 3. Kandice Chandra, Legacy, 58.90.
100 breaststroke — 1. Mahala Erlandson, Fossil Ridge, 1:05.41; 2. Ashley Peet, Loveland, 1:06.89; 3. Emilia Culberson, Boulder, 1:07.98.
400 free relay — 1. Fossil Ridge, 3:33.29; 2. Legacy, 3:33.37; 3. Horizon, 3:40.47.