So close: Fruita’s Temple just misses out on state qualifying times at SWL Championships

Photo by William Woody—Fruita Monument High School’s Leah Temple had three chances Saturday to qualify for the state swimming championships. Temple came close, finishing a combined 2.99 seconds off the state qualifying times in the 50-yard freestyle, the 100 freestyle and the 200 freestyle relay.

Fruita Monument High School swimmer Leah Temple finished a blink of an eye away from going to the state championships in Fort Collins.

The junior entered Saturday’s Southwestern League Championships at the El Pomar Natatorium with the opportunity to qualify in three different events.

First was the 50-yard freestyle, where it was going to take an even 26 seconds to qualify. Temple came in third in 26.43.

Next was the 100 freestyle.

Temple again swam a strong race, finishing second in 58 seconds, but that’s one second slower than needed to qualify.

Two down, one left.

Temple’s final opportunity to punch her state ticket was in the 200 freestyle relay. The Wildcats’ foursome of Temple, Jessica Fischer, Teddi Larson and Kiaja Thomas needed a 1:48.20 to qualify. When Temple’s hand hit the wall, the clock stopped at 1:49.76.

“I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t make it,” Temple said. “All the times were really close.”

Fruita Monument coach Jessica Haley said she was pleased with the way Temple swam all weekend. Haley added that coming in one second late can be attributed to many different factors.

“It can be a turn, a breath, a start, or mental block,” Haley said. “But she put her heart into it, and that’s all I can ask.”

Despite not qualifying for state, the weekend wasn’t a total disappointment for Temple who cut nearly two seconds off her 100 free time. In addition to that, Temple’s 200 free team loses only one member, and Saturday’s near misses are going to motivate her for next season.

“I plan to work out really hard over the summer, and we are going to take the 200 free relay to state next year,” Temple said. “This weekend was so exciting.”

The weekend was successful for Montrose swimmer Emily Stucky. The junior won both her individual events, and was a member of two first-place relay teams. The Indians junior won the 200 free with a time of 1:56.53, and the 100 butterfly in 58.62. Both times are well under the state qualifying time, but it didn’t matter as Stucky had already qualified. In fact, Stucky said she’s qualified in all 11 events.

Next week at state, Stucky said she’s debating between the 200 individual medley with the 200 free, the 100 free and 100 butterfly.

“The 200 IM and 100 fly are my specialities,” Stucky said. “Today I was trying to set up for a good meet next weekend.”

Stucky won state titles in the 50 free and 100 free last year as a sophomore.

For the Grand Valley schools, the only state qualifier is Grand Junction diver Gillian McLean.

Durango won the team title with 483.50 points. Montrose was second at 411, with Fruita Monument finishing fifth at 208, and Grand Junction coming in sixth at 177.50. Palisade-Central finished ninth with 63 points.

“There were a lot of fine swims over the course of the weekend,” Grand Junction coach Dale Leonhart said. “It’s a fast pool and the girls responded.”


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