Invite brings top three finish
The BYU-Utah rivalry wasn’t the only big match up of the weekend in Utah. The Park City High School swim team held its biggest invitational of the season, welcoming 13 of the best teams in state. Five hundred top-level swimmers from as far away as St. George converged on the Ecker Hill Aquatic Center Friday and Saturday for the challenge.
Headlining the competition were Judge Memorial, Park City and Logan, who managed to walk away with the top three honors in both the boys and girls competition. The Miners won the boys’and Judge won the girls division. Park City’s girls took second. According to Park City head coach Matt Hayes, the opportunity to swim against Logan was invaluable. The Grizzlies recently made the move down to 3A this year after winning the boys state championship last year in the 4A classification. The invitational allowed the Miners to see how they would stack up against the newcomers before the state finals. The Grizzlies took second in the boys competition and third in the girls.
"We beat them by 56 points. We had a disqualification, or we would have had 20 more points," Hayes said.
En route to beating Logan and their usual nemesis Judge, the Miners boys looked unstoppable. The started off the meet making a statement by breaking the state record in the 200-meter medley relay.
"I think they do realize they are one of the better teams and are out to prove it," Hayes said. "That started the meet off in the right tone and they really got into it."
Coming off of a year where the Miners struggled with depth and experience, the sudden dominance of the newly-loaded squad is still surprising some teams.
"We know that we are one of the top three teams in the state and they are excited to show that they are that good," Hayes said. "They are seeing we have depth and some of the top swimmers also." For the Park City boys, Tyler Pool turned in some of the best times of high school career and Taylor Kinnebrew had a season best performance in the 500-yard freestyle.
The girls team also performed well. Hayes says that he did not expect the girls to finish so high among the other talented teams.
"Some of the girls stepped up their performance this time," Hayes said.
Hayes hopes to see girls continue to grow to assure a repeat second-place in the state meet.
Hayes also said that his freshmen continued to improve at the meet, which is encouraging for the program in coming years. The Bulldogs led all females by 145 points. Ashley May, a prep soccer player for Judge, who suffered a knee injury on the field and moved her attention to the pool was their star swimmer.
Another highlight of the meet was the individual performance of Snow Canyon swimmer, Joe Beutler, a freshman who finished the 500-yard freestyle in 4 minutes and 48 seconds 12 minutes under the 2005 state winning time of five minutes flat. "He has the best time of any swimmer in the state by five seconds," Hayes said Performances like Buetler’s are part of the reason Hayes was excited to bring the top teams to Park City. He says that performances like that show his team that if they work hard, there is no reason that they can’t achieve similar results. "You want these kids here, so our kids see what they should be doing," Hayes said. Right now, Hayes says he is very happy with the work ethic and commitment of the Miners. Despite being tired from intense early-season workouts, they are obviously still putting up big wins in high-level meets. "They are still tired when they swim," Hayes said. "From a mental point of view, you still want to swim well. Hayes is hoping to continue holding the Park City Invitational and attracting the top teams. All of the St. George high schools that train at the Sand Hollow Pool have committed to swimming for years to come and Hayes hopes that the others will also return. Meets like the Park City Invitational are one of the few times during the year that Northern Utah schools get to see competition from other parts of the state. Hayes says that one of the main draws to the Park City pool is the speed that swimmers find there. Because the pool is so deep, turbulence from the hot water jets don’t interfere with the swimmers and often give them some of their fastest times of the year.
"All of the teams brought their best swimmers and look forward to swimming in the pool. Kids swim fast here," Hayes said. In the coming years, Hayes would also like hold a social event, such as a dance or barbeque with the meet to allow the swimmers to forge friendships and alert the Park City community to the continued success of Park City swimming programs. "They’ve [Park City] had the state championships, but haven’t got the notice. If we get it back, I know it will be great and people will support it," Hayes said. "Whatever is run the best and has the kids will be successful." The Miners will take Thursday and Friday off for the Thanksgiving holiday and resume practice next Monday to prepare for a road trip to face the Uintah Utes on Dec. 1.
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