FORT COLLINS — Erie head girls swimming coach Kelly Shipley brought a championship mentality over from Longmont when she was introduced as the Tigers first head coach before the start of the 2018-19 school year.
She was also fortunate to bring some talented swimmers into the fold as the new program got going.
On Saturday at the Class 3A state meet in Fort Collins, the Tigers made school history in a big way by getting a state champion and also finishing ninth among the teams involved.
Former Niwot swimmer Payten Irwin, who attends Erie, won the 50 freestyle at Edora Pool Ice Center to become EHS’ first state swimming champion, and the Tigers junior later doubled up by winning the 100 butterfly to cap Erie’s overall effort up north.
“It was incredible, and we just had such a good turnout this season and tonight,” said Irwin, who finished ninth in the 4A 50 free and fourth in the fly last year with Niwot. “To finish ninth in our first year? That’s just so good.”
Irwin watched from afar as her former team took second place overall in 4A at the Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center in Thornton on Friday night, and drew a bit of inspiration from it.
She was not seeded first in either event, but relied on herself and confidence to track down St. Mary’s High School’s Caitlin Cairns in both events on Saturday. In the 50, she won by a tenth of a second (24.32 seconds to Cairns’ 24.43) and in the 100 fly the lead was slightly more comfortable (55.58 seconds to 56.56).
The fly time was good for a Junior Nationals cut, which gave Irwin plenty more to smile about.
“I knew I had to fight because (Cairns) is a great swimmer, and I guess in the 50 I just was able to put my head down,” Irwin said. “In the fly, it just came down to me having some momentum from the 50. It was my best time ever.”
Erie’s relay teams all scored points, and the Tigers also had two other swimmers place individually.
The 200 medley relay team and 400 free relay teams each placed seventh, and the 200 free relay team was 13th. The relay teams included Irwin, Alice Mazzetti, Meredith Olson, Shay Maruna, Kaelin Hawkins, Kailey Pickering and Isabelle Reichel.
Mazzetti cashed in with top-20 finishes in the 200 free and 100 backstroke, while Olson also placed in the 100 freestyle.
Erie was the only local 3A team competing in Fort Collins Saturday. Evergreen won the team title.
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Class 3A State Championships
At Edora Pool Ice Center, Fort Collins
200 medley relay — 1. Pueblo County (Liberato, Blickensderfer, Maurello, Musso), 1:49.14; 2. Evergreen, 1:50.69; 3. Aspen, 1:52.26; 7. Erie (Mazzetti, Maruna, Irwin, Olson), 1:58.58.
200 freestyle — 1. Remi Gucker, Evergreen, 1:55.30; 2. Elise Mishmash, Salida, 1:55.96; 3. Ainsley Nalen, Kent Denver, 1:58.31; 17. Alice Mazzetti, Erie, 2:07.80.
200 IM — 1. Davy Brown, Aspen, 2:08.65; 2. Maggie McDonald, Evergreen, 2:10.61; 3. Jamie Dellwardt, Berthoud, 2:12.06.
50 freestyle — 1. Payten Irwin, Erie, 24.32; 2. Caitlin Cairns, St. Mary’s, 24.43; 3. Aly Gallagher, Colorado Academy, 24.91.
Diving — 1. Rachel Alexander, Discovery Canyon, 424.90; 2. Campbell Patteson, Kent Denver, 419.50; 3. Jackie Fritsche, Evergreen, 403.10.
100 butterfly — 1. Payten Irwin, Erie, 55.58; 2. Caitlin Cairns, St. Mary’s, 56.56; 3. Amanda Blickensderfer, Pueblo County, 57.87.
100 freestyle — 1. Elisa Mishmash, Salida, 53.57; 2. Christina Crane, Evergreen, 53.97; 3. Aly Gallagher, Colorado Academy, 54.30; 15. Meredith Olson, 58.62.
500 freestyle — 1. Remi Gucker, Evergreen, 5:10.84; 2. Ava Giesbrecht, Discovery Canyon, 5:18.11; 3. Caitlin Beery, Thomas Jefferson, 5:19.31.
200 free relay — 1. Aspen (Brown, Kinney, Khan-Farooqi, Tehrani), 1:40.46; 2. Pueblo County, 1:40.60; 3. Kent Denver, 1:42.63; 13. Erie (Maruna, Hawkins, Pickering, Olson), 1:48.54.
100 backstroke — 1. Davy Brown, Aspen, 57.58; 2. Jamie Dellwardt, Berthoud, 58.21; 3. Kandi Liberato, Pueblo County, 59.41. 14. Alice Mazzetti, Erie, 1:05.48.
100 breaststroke — 1. Emily Moreland, La Junta, 1:06.05; Christina Crane, Evergreen, 1:07.17; 3. Sydney Dolloff-Holt, Manitou Springs, 1:07.28.
400 free relay — 1. Evergreen (Gucker, McDonald, Atkins, Crane), 3:39.31; 2. Kent Denver, 3:42.67; 3. Glenwood Springs, 3:47.99; 7. Erie (Mazzetti, Reichel, Olson, Irwin), 3:51.86.