Fruita Monument wins District 51 swim title
By the time the 400-yard freestyle relay had started, the Fruita Monument High School swim team had already won the District 51 swim meet.
Despite already wearing the crown, the Wildcats pulled off one of the most exciting races of Wednesday evening’s meet at Orchard Mesa Community Pool.
Grand Junction’s Kelsey Schlagel got the Tigers out to a large lead, swimming the first leg in 56.85 seconds. By the time the Wildcats’ third swimmer, Leah Temple, hit the water, she had to overcome a deficit of nearly half a pool length. She made up the deficit, setting the stage for anchor Jessica Fischer, who outraced the Tigers’ Chloe Jagelski to the wall, finishing first at 4:09.03.
“When we were game planning for this meet, I asked the girls what they were really going after and they said they wanted the 400 free relay,” Fruita Monument coach Jessica Haley said. “So going into it, I knew their hearts were into it. Leah had a phenomenal swim and it was exactly what we needed.”
The race helped the Wildcats to a total team score of 297. Grand Junction finished with 256 points and Palisade/Central had 214.
“We swam fantastic,” Haley said. “You couldn’t have asked for any more. We swam amazing.”
The Wildcats won six of the 12 events, including Kassia Plsek’s first-place in the 100-yard backstroke . Plsek was also on the Wildcats’ victorious 200 medley relay team and the 400 freestyle relay team. Plsek is three seconds away from meeting the state cut in the 100-yard backstroke, which she said is a goal for her.
“That would mean I get to swim one more meet,” Plsek said. “It is my goal to get to state, so I am going all out.”
The other Wildcats to finish first were Eleise Hinton in the 100 breaststroke , Angela Junge in the 200 individual medley , Fischer in the 500 freestyle and Temple in the 50 freestyle .
“This meet is bragging rights,” Haley said. “So I knew the girls would be fired up, but I didn’t expect the fast times they had.”
While Fruita won the meet, the other two swim teams both had numerous girls shave seconds off their best times. Grand Junction’s Schlagel earned the first state qualifying time in the valley. She started off the meet on a high note, swimming a 2:03.33 in the 200 freestyle, which qualifies her for the state championships Feb. 12 in Fort Collins.
“It was a big relief to get it,” Schlagel said. “I had a lot of energy and I don’t know where it came from.”
Schlagel had a big day, winning the 100 butterfly and helping the Tigers finish first in the 200 freestyle relay .
Palisade/Central also had a solid meet, finishing with 80 percent best times according to coach Steve Weir. Teddy Hayes won the 100 freestyle and finished second in the 50 freestyle .
“We are coming to the end of our season and everyone is swimming their fastest,” Weir said. “We have made a lot of progress.”