Miners triumph despite holiday break
The rest and relation of the holiday break is looked forward to by just about everyone. Well, everyone, but high school swim coaches.
"It’s a difficult time for everybody. All the coaches have to deal with it," said Park City head swim coach Matt Hayes.
With a Utah High School Activities Association-imposed moratorium over the break, some of the state’s best swimmers organize their own practices or just forgo training all together. Even as one of the top programs in 3A, Park City High School’s team fell victim to the holiday holdover.
"It was a long break," said Hayes. "Many don’t practice, don’t understand the necessity. As a swimmer, you can’t take that much time off and expect to do well."
The Miners, who were back in the pool on Wednesday night for a meet against Pleasant Grove and Uintah, actually did fare well beating both teams by a significant margin, but Hayes was still frustrated. His frustration is compounded by the added stress of getting the team settled back into their academic demands and the impending state championships next month.
The girls beat Pleasant Grove 115-55 and Uintah 125-40.
Hayes was impressed by the continuing improvement of his underclassman despite the layover. Sophomores Hannah Skarsten and Caitlyn Palmer both swam well in the 100-yard breaststroke, putting themselves in contention to qualify for state.
In the boys’ competition, the Miners beat Pleasant Grove 105-65 and Uintah 98-70. Another underclassman Ben Haynes, a transfer this year from American Fork, swam a personal best in the 100-yard butterfly. Haynes is also close to qualifying for state.
"It’s a great surprise and he’s doing very well," Hayes said.
Despite Pleasant Grove’s 5A "big-school" status, Hayes says the team is still developing. Both Pleasant Grove and Uintah will have competition pools built in their areas in the next year, but until then, the teams struggle to stay afloat with the state’s stronger teams.
The Miners’ last and best test won’t come until next week, when they travel to Ogden to face the Tigers. The 3A Tigers boys’ team is proving to be the team to beat in the state meet, so next week will be a timely challenge for the Miners as they prepare to turn in some of their best swimming for the Region 10 and 3A state championships.
"It will be a good test for the boys," Hayes said.
Unfortunately, the Ogden girls’ team will not provide a similar challenge, fielding just 12 members. Hayes plans to use the meet to give his girls the opportunity to try new races. Different races gives the younger swimmers the chance to see if they show promise in other events, and the older kids a chance to have some fun before buckling down. One last meet will also help them stay in competition shape before the championships.
"We’re coming down to crunch time," Hayes said.
Park City can only take the top four qualifiers in each event to the state meet, so making sure the team is swimming their best in the weeks leading up to it is paramount. The state qualifiers are working very hard currently, so that they can taper off and rest right before state. He also wants the team to start refining the little things to prepare them for top-notch competition. The next few weeks will be spent working on starts, finishes, turns and pacing themselves during the pressure and excitement of the state championships.
Right now, Hayes just hopes the Miners will perform well in the region finals and set themselves up to come at within at least 100-points of rival Judge Memorial at state.
"If we can get in with that, it will be a great year," Hayes said.
The Miners head to Ogden to face the Tigers next Tuesday, Jan. 9 at 3:30 p.m.
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