District 51 swimmers focused on another SWL title
The District 51 swim team is ready to make some serious waves.
The Griffins are chasing their third straight Southwestern League title, and Saturday at the El Pomar Natatorium at Mesa State College, the District 51 team took another step toward its goal by winning the Grand Junction relays with 420 team points.
“This meet gives them a chance to see where they are, and what they have to do,” Griffins coach Dale Leonhart said. “The main thing is, we are a lot better than three weeks ago, but we still have a long way to go.”
The Griffins, who’s slogan for this year is “Triple Play in May” refers to getting another SWL title, are led by 12 seniors, and a crop of talented underclassmen. Pushing the pace is junior Tyler Walton, who helped the Griffins finish first Saturday in the 200-yard backstroke/breaststroke relay (2:01.70), 200-yard breaststroke relay (2:12.96), and 200-yard 4x100 IM relay (4:17.28).
“Our strength this year is depth,” Walton said. “We have a lot of leadership and can help each other get where we want to be.”
Walton is a part of the Griffins’ 400 freestyle and 200 medley relay teams that have already qualified for the state tournament. Walton said this year’s Griffins are motivated to do something special, and are willing to put in the hard work to see it through. That was obvious during the Griffins’ first of 10 practices during the spring break week.
“It was a tough practice, and we were doing 300s,” Walton said. “It was one of the last ones we had to do, and I told Nick (Neste) that he should break three minutes on it. He ended up doing it, but then threw up. So it’s good team bonding that lets us push each other that far.”
Leonhart is in his 16th year coaching the team, and said it’s always helpful when the swimmers are self-driven.
“We have the whole gamut from experienced race-hardened vets to absolute raw rookies,” Leonhart said. “Any time you have guys that lead by example, that’s definitely an asset to your team, and they are a pretty solid group.”
At the forefront for the Griffins will be Walton, Neste, Cyrus Pearo, Taylor Fisher, Tanner Chapin, Brett Scott and Kimani Robinson. Walton said beside the goal of winning the SWL again, the Griffins would like to make a splash at the state meet. Last year, District 51 finished 21st as a team, and was unable to finish top eight in any of the individual events.
“I think we can get a majority of the team there,” said Walton, who added he plans on qualifying in every event. “We want to finish top eight. That’s been a goal since I’ve been here.”
The Griffins diving team is led by senior Adam Vogel, who’s already qualified for state.
Next up for the Griffins is Friday and Saturday’s meets at Valley and Mountain View.
The Fruita Monument High School soccer team lost two games in the Air Academy Invitational. The Wildcats fell Saturday morning to Chaparral 5-0, then lost in the afternoon to Douglas County 3-0.
“We showed our inexperience,” Fruita Monument coach Tracey Burke said.
In the first game, the Wildcats trailed only 1-0 heading into halftime against Chaparral. The Wolverines came out hot, and quickly expanded their lead.
“We were hanging with them,” Burke said. “But they turned it on, and when it rained, it poured.”
Fruita Monument plays Central on March 23.