If the Region 10 Swimming Championships at the Park City Aquatic Center last Saturday were any indication of how things will be at the 3A State Championships, then things are about to get really interesting.
The Park City boys won the region championship, with rivals Wasatch and Judge close behind, and the girls came in a close second place to Judge Memorial.
"The boys swam well. There were some great races," said Park City head coach Mike Werner. "I knew my kids that needed to swim fast were going to swim fast. They exceeded my expectations."
In a region that was already very competitive at the top, things have suddenly become even more competitive. Werner is well aware that for Park City to challenge for the state championships, every swimmer will need to perform his/her best.
The boys’ team has made big strides in the last month, slowly rising up in the rankings, posting strong results against top teams like Logan, Mountain Crest and Layton.
Although the girls finished about 50 points behind Judge, Werner knows that is a gap they can close.
"It happened the way I thought it would," he said.
And frankly, that’s not a bad thing. As the defending state champions in the girls division, the Miners are sort of happy to have the targets off their back somewhat. At the same time, losing to their biggest rival has the girls more fired up to beat them.
"They’re going to be ready to go," Werner said. "They are using this as motivation."
Right now, the Miners are split into distinct groups, with the top swimmers still training hard in preparation for the state meet, while the hopefuls were well rested for region so they could grab last-minute state qualifications.
"That’s the fun part," said Werner. "You’ve got to get creative with things."
This weekend, the Miners will learn who is on the final roster of qualifiers for the state meet, and then the real fun will begin. Werner will need to make sure everyone is well rested and well focused for the competition without laying too much pressure on them.
Luckily, the team has been swimming against some of the best teams in the state all season, so every week has seemed like a state finals preview. Werner hopes this eliminates the jitters and makes the state championships seem like just another swim meet.
That may be easier said than done, though. Besides the region challengers, the Miners will also have to prepare for highly-ranked programs like Ogden, Logan and a few teams from southern Utah that they haven’t even seen.
Werner said everyone should be ready to stage a battle in what could be the closest state finals for both boys’ and girls’ divisions in years.
"We’re going to do everything possible to optimize our chances," he said.
The 3A State High School Swimming Championships will be held Feb. 6 and 7 at Brigham Young University.
For complete region championship results, see B-4.
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