After a festive bus ride to Colorado Mesa University's El Pomar Natatorium in Grand Junction, the Glenwood Springs High School girls swim team was ready to mix it up with six other Western Slope teams in the Fruita Monument Invitational. Fruita Monument, Grand Junction, Central/Palisade, Gunnison, Durango and Aspen made up the competition for the evening's meet.
The Demons rocketed out of the starting gate in the 200 medley relay by landing two relay teams in the top six.
Kierra Kalakewich, Rebecca Carcaterra, Hannah Stinson and Mikayla Axtell finished sixth, while Jessica Tuttle, Hannah Peterson, Hannah Grumley and Ashley Roper set the tone for the meet by winning the race in a state-qualifying time of 2 minutes, 2.12 seconds.
Freshman Jessica Tuttle left the field in her wake in her first solo event as a high school swimmer. Tuttle swam like a seasoned veteran in the 200 free, bringing home the victory for her team and obtaining her first individual state time of 2:02.21.
Coming in third for the Demons was senior Lily Thorsen, who missed the state-qualifying time by the blink of an eye. Carcaterra, a senior, came to the wall inside the top 10 as well, claiming seventh.
It had become blatantly obvious that the self-funded Glenwood Springs High girls swim team had come to show the Western Slope that it meant business.
This was crystal clear after Grumley, the team's senior co-captain, won the 200 individual medley in spectacular fashion with another state qualifying time of 2:23.88.
The only swimmer close to Grumley was her teammate, freshman Kendall Vanderhoof, who cruised to a second-place finish, scarcely missing the state cut.
With three events complete, the Demons had three triumphs. They never looked back.
Grand Junction's Taylor Kidd dominated the competition in the 50 free. Vail Christian's Kalakewich won the melee that followed, with Stinson, a freshman, and Axtell, a sophomore, cracking the top 10 as well. Stinson was fifth and Axtell ninth to continue Glenwood's point scoring domination.
The 100 fly saw Peterson, the Demons' sophomore fireball, put in a strong effort for a bronze. Stinson, effective once again, swam to a seventh-place finish.
Glenwood kept the pressure on its competition, placing yet another three swimmers in the top 10 in the 100 free.
Vanderhoof led the way for the Demons in third. Thorsen and Roper, a senior co-captain, were not far behind in sixth and ninth. Sophomore Sofia Gamba, Glenwood's swimmer of the meet, had a major breakthrough, kissing 10 seconds goodbye from her previous best 100 free time.
Leading the field once again, this time in the 500 free, was the leader of Glenwood's "Formidable Freshman" - Tuttle.
Tuttle controlled the tempo from the time the swimmers hit the water, winning in another state qualifying time of 5:28.91. Axtell and junior Olivia Ayers rounded out the scoring for Glenwood, both swimming their first 500.
The lady Demons continued their relay dominance in the 200 free relay. Peterson, Kalakewich, Vanderhoof and Thorsen swamped the competitors with tsunami-like waves plunging from their lane. The foursome won by four seconds in a state-qualifying time of 1:49.84.
Senior Grace Gamba, along with freshman Olivia Dixon and juniors Ayers and Mackenzie Fuller, nabbed the 10th spot.
It was the seniors' turn to showcase their abilities in the 100 back.
Grumley, Kalakewich and Coal Ridge's Roper all finished in sixth place or better to continue Glenwood's onslaught. Grumley led the way, swimming her best time of 1:03.98, finishing second and qualifying for state in the process. Kalakewich and Roper went 5-6 for the Demons.
Glenwood continued to place multiple swimmers in the points in the 100 breast. Leading the way was Peterson, who took second while missing the state cut by a mere quarter of a second. Carcaterra put in a solid effort to claim fifth, and Ayers continued to produce for the Demons, securing 13th.
In a nail-biter that originally appeared to have been won by Durango, Glenwood was awarded another relay victory in a photo finish a la Michael Phelps in the 100 fly of the 2008 Olympics.
Thorsen, Roper, Tuttle and Grumley bettered their previous state qualifying time by seven seconds to out-touch Durango by a fraction of a second in a time of 3:56.39. Glenwood solidified its team title at the Fruita Monument Invitational by also stealing fourth place, with Vanderhoof, Axtell, Stinson and Carcaterra continuing the Demons' consistent swimming.
It appears that those who donated money to this Glenwood program have invested wisely, with the Demons dominating the three relay events, winning three individual events and placing 25 swimmers in the top 10 of high school swimming's 12 event format.
Glenwood, without any divers, found itself on top with 488 points, to second-place Durango's 457 and Grand Junction's 430 in the third position.
Glenwood will travel to Montrose next weekend with hopes of many more state cuts falling as they compete in the multi-day Montrose Invite.