PCHS swimming: Miners swim to 3A state championship
February 8, 2012
Throughout its lengthy and demanding season, the Park City High School swim team was constantly encouraged by its head coach. He told the Miners that, if they did things the right way, enjoyed the experience and respected the process of becoming a team, they would have a chance to show the state what kind of talent they possess.
"The magic will be there," said head coach Mike Werner, remembering what he told his team.
This weekend at the 3A state high school championship meet, the Miners took their coach’s advice to heart and left it all out there. The result was a 3A state championship.
The Park City boys’ swim team won its second 3A title in three years Saturday at Brigham Young University as the Miners dethroned defending state champion and region foe Wasatch. Park City emerged victorious 282 to 255.5.
"I think we just had a group of kids who were really dedicated and wanted to go there and compete," Werner said. "The numbers game is a factor at some points. They all swam well, and they knew things were going to be really, really fast. They had fun, kept it light, and they wanted to win state, but that wasn’t their main focus."
Werner’s unique approach to coaching paid off once again. Rather than assuming a championship-or-bust mentality, he and his group came together as a team as the year went on while knowing the talent was there to make some noise come early February.
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"I think that’s what gets the pressure off for us," said senior star Dusty Ragland, who won two individual state championships in the 50- and- 100-yard freestyle swims and was named Male Swimmer of the Meet. Ragland’s 50-yard freestyle time of 21:17 tied the state record. "Mike’s No. 1 rule at big meets is to have fun. It’s not about the win. If we all do the individual bests, it’s more just bettering ourselves first, and therefore, the win will come after."
Of the nine boys who earned spots to the state meet, every one scored points for the Miners, the significance of which Ragland said cannot be underestimated. The Park City senior made it a point to include one of his teammates because it wasn’t just a few stars that gave the Miners their second state title in three years.
"I got more nervous for anybody else’s races more so than mine," he said. "I knew they were more than capable, but I wasn’t in the water swimming for them. They were the ones to pull off the upsets. Joseph Palmer was seeded 24th and finished 16th. That’s what we needed to happen all weekend."
Along with Ragland and Palmer, seniors Nathan Melgaard and Hayden Peterson were part of Park City’s nine, along with juniors Bailey Cooper, Jensen Howard, Alec Topkis, Garrett Jensen and Zach Carfi.
"Everybody rallied for each other," Werner said.
The quartet of Ragland, Carfi, Peterson and Jensen broke a school record in Friday night’s 200-yard medley relay by more than a second, Werner said. The quartet of Ragland, Peterson, Howard and Jensen later clinched the state title in the 400-yard freestyle relay.
"They came to shine and it was really exciting to see," Werner said.
Howard finished second in the boys’ 200-yard freestyle. Carfi and Jensen finished third and fourth in the boys’ 200-yard IM and Topkis finished fourth in the 100-yard fly freestyle. Jensen also finished second in the boys’ 500-yard freestyle.
The Park City girls’ squad finished fifth at the state meet, and was just a few breaks away from cracking the top three, Werner said. A very young team with just two seniors –Olivia Boyer and Hailey Shand — the Miners had a surprise star at the state meet in freshman Megan Flake, who had a seventh-place finish in the 200-yard IM. Bailey Burke (sixth in the 200-yard freestyle) and Natalie McDonald (second in both the 200-yard freestyle and 500-yard freestyle) also starred for Park City.
Shand finished third in the 100-yard backstroke and fourth in the 100-yard freestyle.
"No matter the numbers or odds, you can do anything when you put your mind in it," Werner said, "and they did that."
Added Ragland, who leaves Park City with a number of state titles to his name: "I’d say this year was a storybook ending."