Colorado proud

Morris helps state swim team keep lead at Zone Championships

Logan Morris takes a breath Friday on her way to winning the girls 15-18 breaststroke at the Western Zone Age Group Championships at El Pomar Natatorium. Morris, who will be a senior at Montrose High School, helped Colorado Swimming maintain its team lead heading into the final day.

The final day of the Western Zone Age Group Championships is today, and Colorado Swimming is looking to protect the house, represent the state — all those territorial cliches.

The rivalry has arrived.

Colorado Swimming and Pacific Swimming, from California, are in first and second place, respectively.

On Friday at El Pomar Natatorium, in the first zone swimming meet hosted in Grand Junction since 1999, Colorado maintained a 26-point lead over Pacific. Colorado has 1,151.5 points to Pacific’s 1,125.5.

“It feels great to be beating those California guys,” said Daniel Carr, 13, of Colorado Springs, who won the boys age 13-14 100 breaststroke Friday and the 200 breaststroke Wednesday. “They’re pretty cocky; they think they’re going to have big times at altitude. They think they’re the big guys.”

Preliminaries are scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. with finals around 4:45 p.m.

A coaches relay will follow the finals.

Logan Morris, 17, who will be a senior at Montrose High School, helped keep Colorado ahead of the “big guys.” Morris won the girls age 17-18 100 breaststroke in a time of 1 minute,16.23 seconds.

She thought she swam a poor preliminary Friday morning. So, she went back to her Spring Hill Suites hotel room, took a bath, then soaked up teammates’ positive vibes.

“They said, ‘Who’s going to win tonight? Colorado. Logan,’ ” Morris said.

Still, Morris was nervous as she stood on the blocks.

“This event is my baby,” she said. “It’s what I live for. I don’t take it lightly when I don’t win.”

She won.

But in the final 25 meters, she said she tried not to shorten her strokes due to exhaustion.

“And you want to look and see where everybody is,” Morris said. “But you have to focus on your own lane. That works way better. Keep your head and go.”

And throughout the meet, Colorado kept pepping itself with talk of defending its host meet.

“We say stuff like, ‘This is our house,’ ” Morris said. “People can’t just come in and take the championship. Are you serious?”

Colorado last won a zone meet four years ago in Honolulu, Hawaii.

“These kids don’t just want to hang out, they want to win,” Colorado head coach Mike Novell said. “For this meet to come into Colorado and for us to have an opportunity to win is pretty special. For individual kids, they learn how to act at a championship meet and how to prepare, what to do between events, and so on. The way this tournament is run is the same way at any meet at USA Swimming.”

Morris’s teammate Colby Allen, 12, of Highlands Ranch, won the boys 11-12 50 breaststroke with a time of 34.41 seconds.

Allen won the event at a state championship two years ago. Because there is not a 50 breaststroke event beginning at age 13, it was the final time Allen will swim the event.

And he won in lane No. 7, which is by a warm-up lane. The waves from nearby swimmers tend to distract competitors and “draft” them to the side.

“It can psyche you out when you see swimmers next to you, or (they) give you a draft,” Allen said. “I just tried not to think about it. I didn’t expect to win being on the outside.”

He put in perspective the feat of winning a title at a zone meet.

“All the states in the Western U.S. and I’m No. 1,” Allen said. “It’s crazy.”


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