Secondary swimmers help Griffins win WSL team title
They weren’t the guys who won races Friday night, but the swimmers finishing high in the “B” finals — and in the lower spots of “A” finals — on Friday night made all the difference for the District 51 boys swimming and diving team.
Montrose won 7 of 12 events and Glenwood Springs won three more, but the Griffins’ depth in each event led them to a team victory at the five-team Western Slope League Championship at El Pomar Natatorium.
District 51 coach Cody Spencer, dress clothes drenched after he was dragged into the pool during his team’s celebration, credited the Griffins’ overwhelming numbers for the victory.
“I was really impressed with our B relays and the depth we had,” Spencer said. “I think our B relay in (the 400-yard freestyle relay) ended up finishing fourth in the final heat. That was the real difference-maker, honestly, the depth of the B relays. We had some stud performances and those are really awesome, but it’s the supplementary guys who make it work.”
The importance of District 51’s depth was illustrated early as Montrose piled up impressive individual wins, but couldn’t pull away from the Griffins in the team standings.
Montrose’s 200 medley relay came roaring back on Elias Carlson’s freestyle leg to top District 51 by almost exactly one second. The Griffins were disqualified, but they stacked point-gaining finishes after that.
Ryan King torched the field in the 200 freestyle, finishing in 1:43.56, almost 17 seconds faster than the Class 4A state-qualifying time. It was more of the same for Montrose’s Cayden Christianson with his victory in the 200 individual medley beating the 4A qualifying time by a similarly wide margin with a 1:58.73.
Glenwood’s Connor Somers won the 50 freestyle and Montrose added two more top finishes in diving. Gus Reed won with 335.2 points and Casey Crawford finished second with 288.1 points.
Somers won the 100 butterfly before Nice Gunaydin picked up the Griffins’ first victory in the 100 freestyle. Gunaydin squeaked under the 5A qualifying time with a 49.15, accidentally yanking the timing pad off the floating divider in the pool. He laughed and flexed as his teammates cheered from the deck.
Glenwood’s Cole Peterson won the 500 freestyle by more than 15 seconds and Montrose eked out a victory in the 200 freestyle relay, topping District 51 by only nine-hundreths of a second.
King and Christianson combined for two more individual victories, winning the 100 backstroke and 100 breaststroke, respectively, by much tighter margins than their first wins.
Montrose coach Silas Almgren praised several things, including sophomores King and Christianson, the Indians’ seniors, and District 51’s depth in every event.
“First has got to be hats off to D51,” Almgren said. “Great win for them. They brought tons of great athletes here who made it happen for them. I thought we had a lot of our victories in individual events ... and just had some great performances by kids in different events. I’d like to highlight the seniors, of course, with Elias Carlson, Noah Stangebye and the two divers we have, Casey and Gus. They’ve all brought a lot to their final year.”
District 51 closed out the meet with a victory in the 400 freestyle relay.
Although the Griffins only topped the podium in two events, they had numerous swimmers place in point-scoring positions. Outside of D51’s disqualified relay team, all others — A or B — finished among the top four.
Travis Newland finished second in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:47.47, which Spencer said is a team record, and Newland also finished second in the 100 backstroke. Tyler Sweet took second in the 100 butterfly and third in the 200 IM. Gunaydin took second in the 50 free, just ahead of his teammate, Jason Cochran. The Griffins had the only other divers competing, with Max Berger finishing third and Newell Berry taking fourth.
Those finishes added up to victory, an ecstatic Newland said.
“All our relays finished top six,” Newland said. “It was huge because not a lot of teams have that depth, knowing that we can have four people in each (individual) event and we still had some people to spare, that’s absolutely huge.”