The Durango High School swimming team had its best finish in years Saturday at the Colorado High School Activities Association Class 3A State Swimming and Diving Championships at EPIC in Fort Collins, as the Demons finished sixth as a team.
Numerous personal and school records fell, as DHS had all-time performances on both the diving board and in the pool.
Evergreen took home the team title for the second consecutive year.
DHS head coach Tom Joyner was thrilled about the performances from his swimmers.
“The past three years, it’s been a 13th-place finish, a 12th-place finish last year and now sixth, so it really shows what a bit of depth can do to for a team,” Joyner said. “It’s a huge jump for one season, and looking back, the freshmen added so much depth this year, our veteran swimmers got better, and we added new faces from the club side who all did really well. I knew we had a lot of depth, but for us to have stellar swims from our relay teams, Mina (Willemin) and Quinn (Schmidt), plus our diving, it really was a great weekend.”
Durango’s Kylie Behn, last year’s 3A state diving champion, set a personal best with a score of 393.45, which was placed her fourth overall, while her sister Alexis, a freshman, was right behind Kylie in fifth with a score of 387.80. Kylie was named the 3A Diver of the Year, while DHS diving coach Mark Fleming was named the Diving Coach of the Year.
“I really couldn’t be more proud of how they performed,” Fleming said. “They exceeded all expectations for myself, and by reaching the levels that they did this year, it was really impressive. ... I don’t know that I’ve had a prouder moment than Kylie and I standing side by side for her last high school meet receiving those awards. It was an unbelievable moment, and to share it with her was just really special.”
Kylie Behn competed for most of the season on a torn anterior cruciate ligament in one of her knees, and Fleming was blown away with her performance all season.
“Really, for Kylie to perform how she did and given the way that she started the season, to end up where she did was great,” Fleming said. “Tonight, it was probably the most competitive field that I’ve ever seen at a state diving meet since I’ve been here. For her to set a personal best and still come in fourth really tells you how strong it was. She had one dive that didn’t go as well as planned, but she handled it super well and found a way to bounce back.”
Rachel Alexander of Discovery Canyon won the diving title with a score of 424.90.
Olivia Mummery finished in 11th with a score of 354.45 for DHS, while Alexis, in her first meet fared well after initial nerves.
“With Olivia, I think making the state finals was a really good representation of how far she’s come this season, and, at the start of the year, I’m not even sure she had expectations of making it to state,” Fleming said. “(Olivia) really grew so much this year, and I was so proud of her. Meanwhile, I’ve been lucky enough to coach (Alexis) since she was 4 years old and Kylie since she was eight, and the way they’ve progressed has been really incredible. I think (Alexis) is going to do well here in the future and the Behn legacy will carry on.”
In the pool, Quinn Schmidt, a sophomore who competed in her first state finals, set a pair of DHS school records en route to two top-10 finishes.
In the 200-yard individual medley, Schmidt took sixth with a time of 2 minutes, 15.94 seconds, a new school record. It was nearly two seconds faster than her preliminary time of 2:17.36. She fared even better in the 500 freestyle, the long-distance event she considers her signature race. She finished in fourth (5:19.36) and, in addition to beating the old school record of 5:20.70, was almost six seconds faster than her preliminary time Friday of 5:26.11.
“Quinn epitomizes the idea of hard work,” Joyner said. “Her and Mina both have an unstoppable work ethic, and even though they’re both veteran club swimmers, the high school state meet is still one of the best tests for swimmers, and now that they’ve both had a look at what the state meet is all about, they’ll be ready to go next year.”
Erin Knight, who was one of four DHS freshmen who qualified for state, took second in the B final of the 200 IM (5:47.12), while junior Saylor Stottlemeyer took eighth (5:53.67).
In the 100 freestyle’s A final, Mina Willemin finished in sixth (56.09) and was slightly slower than her prelim time (55.97). She finished in fifth at the same event last year. Willemin had a top-10 finish in the A final of the 100 backstroke, as well, as she finished in 10th (1:04.40).
Durango had another freshman compete in the B final of the 100 breaststroke, as Angela McManus took fifth in the event and 15th overall (1:16.39). McManus wrapped up Durango’s individual performances, but there were still solid results from the relay teams.
In the 200 medley relay A final, DHS finished in ninth (2:03.51) and was led by Willemin, McManus, freshman Rachel Thilow and junior Acacia Cofman. The same quad took eighth in the 200 freestyle relay. Finally, the Demons ended up taking 20th in the 400 free relay (4:13.33), with a team consisting of Abbey Hunt, McKenzie Rion, Stottlemeyer and Schmidt.
“We added the depth we needed to this season, and quite honestly, I’m really excited for next year,” Joyner said. “We’ve already made the big jump this year, and with the group we’ve got coming back, I’m hopeful we’ll have even better finishes next year. We really came together as a team this year and the hard work paid off.”