Park City on deck for State
Second place never felt as good as it did on Saturday afternoon after the Miners finished just 46 points behind the Judge Bulldogs at the Region 10 Swimming Championships at the Ecker Hill Aquatic Center.
"That’s what we’ve been talking about all year that 100 point difference," said Park City head coach Matt Hayes.
This year, the Miners’ girls team finished the meet with 517 total points, just short of the Bulldog’s 563. Last year, Park City trailed Judge by 111 points at the region championships.
"We’re a stronger team than we were last year, top to bottom," Hayes said. "These young kids really put the time in this year."
Hayes says that Bulldogs are still almost guaranteed yet another state title, but he is hoping that the Miners’ close finish showed that they are gaining on them.
"They aren’t worried about anybody and that’s our motivation," Hayes said. "They know they are at the top and I know we can’t make up those points, but it’s our motivation to try and close that gap."
Hayes says that things will get even more difficult in two weeks when Judge enters their four top swimmers in each event.
"They have a better championship team than we do," Hayes said. "They’re deeper. Their top people are better than ours."
Numerous swimmers qualified to participate in the state championships, but Hayes says that the difficult task now becomes selecting which swimmers will perform the best in the year’s biggest races.
"In some events I have five or six girls that have made a ‘per se’ qualifying time and now I have to choose who goes," Hayes said.
The decision is largely based on prior performances and who Hayes’ feel will step up at the end.
Right now, Hayes is depending on many of his upperclassmen, including Tyler Pool, Samantha Case, Stephanie Tomlin and Dylan Ragland, who have been to state multiple times.
The boys also finished second at the region championships, but a different rival, Wasatch, beat them 498.5-416.5. Hayes has been impressed with the performance of his top boys over the last few weeks and is confident that they will able to keep up with other state title contenders.
"They’ve come to the realization that the end is near," Hayes said.
The Park City boys’ biggest nemeses include Ogden, Logan and Wasatch all teams that the Miners have swam against in the regular season and swam well against.
The boys’ best hopes rest on the shoulders of their relay teams in the 400-yard freestyle and the 200-yard medley races. Individually, senior co-captain Pool is a contender for the state title in the 200-yard IM and the 100-yard breaststroke.
Among the girls, Tomlin, the other team captain, should challenge in the 100 yard freestyle and the 100-yard backstroke. Case will likely join her atop the podium if she swims well in the 100- and 200- yard freestyle races. Case is ranked No. 1 in 3A in the 200 yard freestyle and second in the 100-yard freestyle. Her only challenger, Logan’s Erin Pabst, will not be swimming in that race at state.
Once the final lineup has been determined, the Miners will get back to work in the pool. This week will be devoted to fine-tuning and next week the team will rest in preparation for the state meet.
"After my third year, I know these kids well, so you can almost predict by what we do, how they will do at the end," Hayes said.
Less time will be spent this year on getting the team motivated. Hayes says that this season, the devotion has been more consistent throughout and that the pressure of the state’s biggest stage should fill in any gaps.
"The atmosphere at the state championships is so intense, it’s electric," Hayes said. "They are motivated just by being there."
The 3A State Swimming Championships will be held at Brigham Young University on Friday, Feb. 2 and Saturday, Feb 3.
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