The girls swim and dive team of Durango High School was shorthanded during the Southwest League Championships last weekend but got some of its best performances of the year to help the Demons to a fifth-place finish at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction.
The Demons were down four athletes for the meet, but each of the 17 Demons who made the trip finished Friday’s preliminary sessions with personal bests in every event in which they competed.
“I was inspired to swim my best because of how hard I saw the ladies working during the prelims,” DHS senior Mira Joyner said in an email to The Durango Herald.
“It made me want to go out and match that effort.”
The Demons sat in fifth place after Friday’s preliminaries.
All three of the Demons’ divers qualified for the 11-round finals Saturday, and all three finished inside the top six.
Senior Ruby Epstein captured the overall title with a score of 366.70, which was 6.45 points clear of DHS junior Kylie Behn. Senior Sadie McAliney was sixth with a score of 301.80.
“The DHS divers have worked so hard this season, and the league meet was a great place to showcase their progression,” DHS dive coach Mark Fleming said.
“It was a very exciting meet and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
During swimming events of Saturday’s finals, the Demons’ 200-yard medley relay team started the day out with a fifth-place finish with a time of 2 minutes, 1.29 seconds.
Joyner placed third in the 200 individual medley in a time of 2:19.3 and was second in the 100 butterfly with a personal-best 1:03.16.
Sophomore Mina Willemin was fifth in the 200 IM with a season-best time of 2:22.43 and was second in the 100 freestyle in 56.63.
Saylor Stottlemyer, a sophomore, was seventh in the 500 freestyle with a time of 5:51.20 and qualified for state in the 100 breaststroke with a 12th-place finish and a new personal-best time of 1:19.90.
Joci Earl placed fourth in the 200 freestyle in 2:05.98 and swam a personal best 1:05.57 to place fifth in the 100 backstroke.
Sophomore Acacia Cofman was 11th in the 50 freestyle in 28.48.
As great as the individual performances were, none were better than the Demons’ 400 freestyle relay team.
The team of Earl, Joyner, Stottlemyer and Willemin finished second in Friday’s prelims, then flew through the finals to win the event by a commanding 3.7 seconds with a final time of 3:49.03, which ranks as the fourth fastest in the state.
All four swimmers set new personal bests in their legs of the race.
Joyner took control of the race in the opening leg and built a body-length lead within the opening 12½ yards. She finished her 100 yards in 55.97.
Earl swam the second leg in 57.42 and Stottlemyer took the third leg in 59.65. Willemin closed the race with a 55.90 split.
The Demons will try carry the momentum of the strong regional showing to the state meet this week. The team will have nine athletes at state, which will be held at the Veterans Memorial Aquatics Center in Thornton.