Miners one stroke out of first
A year later and its still a numbers game for the Park City boys swim team. Last year, they struggled to an eighth-place finish at the State meet, because they didn’t have enough people to round out a full team. This season, the boys staged a total turnaround, fielding a full team was looking to challenge for the state title. And then Logan beat them by a mere 36 points, 298-262, at the 2006 3A State Championships over the weekend, not because they had better swimmers just more of them. "We all swim really well. They just had more numbers," said Miners team captain Brent Weldon. In fact, no male Logan swimmer took first place in any race, but they had a total of 16 male entries into the state competition, while Park City entered only six. Miners head coach Matt Hayes says that the numbers problem should remedy itself in a few years as the Park City age-group swim development program continues to grow. The boys were leading for much of the day on Saturday, but fell behind Logan near the end of the meet. "After the breaststroke, I felt like the wheels fell off," said Hayes. "We knew what was going to happen." Hayes said that in some ways, the second-place finish was not as shocking as it seemed. He said while driving down to the meet, the team figured out that if they swam an average meet and Logan swam at their best, the gap between second and first could have been as much as 60 points. "I figure we made up between 30 and 40 points," Hayes said. Some of the standout performances that carried the Miners included state titles claimed by Brent Weldon in the 100 freestyle, and the mix of Weldon, Tyler Pool, John Norgren and Dylan Ragland in the 200 medley relay. The second place caps off what was almost a storybook season for the boys. Weldon said that after the Park City Invitational meet, the boys realized their potential to challenge for the state crown. "We all worked a lot harder. We tried to get a lot more team building," Weldon said. Unbeknownst to Hayes, the boys held periodic team meetings and started giving inspirational talks in the locker room. Weldon said that a lot of their drive was derived from the addition of Norgren , a senior transfer student. Norgren came to the Miners from Wisconsin, where he swam on a mediocre high school team. When he saw how good Park City was and how much better they could become, he began challenging the team to take advantage of their opportunities. Weldon said the result was working harder and believing in the talent of the team. "We knew we had a great team when John came," Weldon said. "He was the difference maker. He inspired us." The women, on the other hand, encountered some problems at the State championship. The heavily favored Judge Memorial girls won the meet by a whopping 462 points, but Park City was able to capture the third-place trophy, just one position behind their second-place title last year. Although, the end result still makes the Miners one of the top programs in the state, Hayes said that the girls struggled at the meet. "It was not a good meet. They didn’t swim very well. But, with that said, to be that close speaks to the depth and quality of the team," Hayes said. The problems started on Wednesday when one of the Miners’ top swimmers, Lindsey Shand, was diagnosed with a physically undetectable form of strep. Although she still swam in the State meet, she was markedly slower than usual. The girls also suffered another setback when the second place 400 freestyle relay team was disqualified. "That typified the girls’ championship," Hayes said. If we had scored those points, we would have been only six points out of second place." Hayes took much of the blame for the girls’ loss, saying he may have spent too much time focusing on the boys’ quest for the state crown. He is already looking forward to next year, when the girls team should come out strong. They will only lose three seniors to graduation this year and will be rejoined by their No. 1 swimmer, Stephanie Tomlin, who missed the season to study abroad. On the boys’ side, the Miners will lose Weldon and other strong swimmers in Norgren, Taylor Kinnebrew and Austin Archibald. He will still have State-quality swimmers in Ragland, Pool, Andrew Juliano and Ryan Geer as well as many talented underclassmen. Hayes says that Weldon has the potential to continue his swimming collegiately. The talented team captain only began swimming as a sophomore and Hayes feels that his best swimming days are ahead of him. Weldon, also a quality water polo player, says that he is focused on the upcoming water polo season, but will strongly consider walking on at the University of Utah next year. "He’s got the potential and the attitude. He could definitely do it," Hayes said.
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