Miners swim to second, fourth at State
At this year’s 3A Utah High School State Swimming Championships on Friday and Saturday, the Miners had their eye on the prize get within 100 points of Judge Memorial in the girls’ competition. Although they failed to do it by 126 points, the team’s high expectations guided them to a successful second-place finish with 344 points.
For the boys, it was a focused group of just seven swimmers that came together to give the boys a fourth-place finish with 205, not far from the state champion Ogden Tigers with 337 points and other fellow state powerhouses, Logan (219) and Snow Canyon (214).
"We did well as a team," said senior co-captain Tyler Pool. "Everyone was really motivated. Matt [Hayes] did a good job with us."
"I think any coach, when you have guys that make it through the program, you have a good group on the whole," Hayes said.
The wins came on the heels of a number of individual state titles, second-place finishes and overall improvement by much of the team.
Hayes noted that many of the senior swimmers stepped up for the finals.
"You want everyone to swim well and sometimes it doesn’t happen," Hayes said. "The seniors did well and the juniors had a little trouble."
Most of the trouble happened on Friday, the first day of the meet, when jitters seemed to slow some swimmers down.
"Friday was difficult, but we came back and swam better," Hayes said. "It’s hard to have expectations and still perform."
The Miners started competition on Friday with a second-place finish in the 200-yard medley relay in both the boys’ and girls’ events. Next up was junior Samantha Case in the 200-yard freestyle. She kicked out to an early lead but wasn’t able to maintain it, finishing fourth with a time of 2 minutes and 2.39 seconds.
"I was just really nervous," Case said.
A string of Summit County victories soon followed. Pool took the state title in the 200-yard IM with a time of 2:01.87. South Summit phenom Sarah Lambert claimed her own state victory in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 25.76 seconds.
"I told her coach, ‘You should end your program right now, so she can come swim with me,’" joked Hayes. "She’s a great talent."
For senior co-captain Stephanie Tomlinson, the end of her high school career was no less than perfect. After spending a year abroad, traveling hours by bus just to practice, Tomlinson returned to the championships to win the state crown in the 100 butterfly with a 59.25 finish.
"That was one of the greatest moments of my high school career," Tomlinson said. "Everyone performed so well. This is pretty much how I thought it would be, but I think it is better."
On the second day of the meet, Lambert and Tomlinson would go two and three in the 100-yard backstroke.
Day two of the meet meant a return to greatness for Case. The junior avenged her disappointing fourth place with a state championship win in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 55.57.
"Today [Saturday] was different," Case said. "I had more motivation, just because I did so bad."
But Hayes didn’t blame it so much on being "bad," as a lack of experience. According to Hayes, Case is normally a strong come-from-behind swimmer, so he thought she might struggle in the 200-yard freestyle when she had an early lead.
"She’s not used to leading," Hayes said. "She tried to blow everyone else out of the water, and then dropped the lead."
Pool had another big day, barely missing the title in the 100-yard breaststroke, behind Snow Canyon’s DJ Payton.
"It’s pretty much been me and him all year," Pool said. "He got me on the last lap."
In 3A competition, the battle is often only between the state’s top teams. Among the girls, that includes Judge, Park City and Logan. And nowhere is it more evident than in the relays, where the best schools leave others in their wake. Thus, it was no surprise in the 200 yard freestyle relay that the Park City girls took third with a combined time of 1:47.43, behind Judge and Logan. Later, at the end of the meet, it would be Judge, Park City and Logan finish first, second and third in the 400 yard freestyle relay.
In the boys 400-yard freestyle relay, they stunned the competition, rallying for an unexpected third-place finish with a combined time of 3:25.74 behind Logan and Ogden. Senior Ryan Geer said that the desire guided the boys to the win.
"No one was expecting that," Geer said. "You see those guys next to you and you charge forward. It’s just a rush. Everyone busted their butt. Everyone put in the effort that was needed."
Although he didn’t win any individual titles, Geer joined a group of Miners who had their best meets of the season at the state championships.
"The group as a whole really worked hard," "Hayes said.
"I feel like we all gave 100 percent."
With a senior-heavy boys squad, Geer said that much of the passion came from this being their last meet in high school.
"It’s senior year and a big year to come out as hard as possible and have no regrets," Geer said.
Pool said that a mix of dinners, speeches by himself and fellow seniors like Dylan Ragland, mixed with intense training, helped the boys come together.
"We were pretty solid coming into the meet," Pool said.
Hayes said he was highly impressed at how his team rose to the occasion.
"I love them," Hayes said. "Great guys, great girls."
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Park City Fire District Chief Paul Hewitt died Friday from injuries sustained in an off-duty accident earlier in the week, the agency announced.