PUEBLO— Twenty-one San Luis Valley high school ladies traveled to Pueblo County High School (PCHS) on the morning of Friday, Feb.1 in preparation for the South Central League Championship swimming meet.
The swimmers, comprised of 13 Alamosa Mean Moose, three Centauri Falcons, one home school student, one Monte Vista Pirate and three Sargent Farmers, have practiced, competed and traveled together as the Sierra Grande Panthers Swim Team since the season began in November. This is their second season as a team, but it was the first opportunity to compete for the championship in the South Central League.
Preliminary heats (three to five of each event) of the 12 events (200-yard medley relay, 200-yard freestyle, 200-yard individual medley, 50-yard freestyle, one-meter diving, 100-yard butterfly, 100-yard freestyle, 500-yard freestyle, 200-yard freestyle relay, 100-yard backstroke, 100-yard breaststroke, 400-yard freestyle relay) were held on Friday afternoon in the packed PCHS Natatorium. The Panthers competed against other league teams: Pueblo Centennial, Pueblo Central, Pueblo County, Pueblo East, Pueblo South and Pueblo West. The top 12 finishers from each event advanced to the finals on Saturday.
Saturday’s finals started off with the 200-yard medley relay team of Dee Lopez, Leilani Lickteig, Jacy Sowards and Katherine Sewell. Dropping their seed time by over a second, these Panthers finished third.
Skye Albert, Molly Nehring and Sewell swam next in the 200-yard individual medley. Albert and Nehring finished seventh and 10th respectively. Sewell finished in sixth place with a 3A state qualifying time of 2:35.63.
Finishing 10th overall in the 50-yard freestyle was Lickteig. The 100-yard butterfly swimmers were Sowards (ninth place) and Lopez (10th place).
Just missing the 3A state qualifying time in the 100-yard freestyle by 19/100th of a second, Albert finished in sixth place.
Long distance swimmer Nehring dropped 11.51 seconds over her prelim swim in the 500-yard freestyle to finish 10th.
Albert lead off the 200-yard free relay followed by Sowards, Lickteig and anchored by Sewell to finish fifth.
The 100-yard backstroke featured Lopez (sixth place) and Sowards (11th place). Sewell placed fourth in the 100-yard breaststroke along with Lickteig taking seventh.
The final swim for senior Nehring was 100 yards of freestyle in the 400-yard freestyle relay. Joined by Lopez, Dom Martinez and Albert, these ladies finished fourth.
Overall the team finished with 136 points to take fourth place behind Pueblo County (458 points), Pueblo South (223 points) and Pueblo West (217 points). Pueblo Centennial, Pueblo Central and Pueblo East finished with 125, 56 and 55 points respectively.
The Panthers’ second season with head coach Melinda Hunzeker, assistant coaches Anna Gearhart and Shawna Johnston and team manager Micheal Peterson (Sargent junior) will end next weekend with their first trip to the State Championships in Fort Collins.