GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado - What a difference seven days can make.Last week at the Glenwood Springs High School girls swim team practices, there was obvious tension and stress as the squad prepared for a weekend trip to Grand Junction and the 4A Western Slope Championships.The Demons responded to the serious tone of the practices and won the Western Slope title by the narrowest of margins, edging Durango by one point to win the team honors. It was the first Western Slope Championship for the Glenwood girls since 2005.Wednesday at the Glenwood Springs Community Center, the Demons were laughing, goofing and obviously enjoying each other's company at the team's final practice for the 2012-13 season. "Last weekend was the pressure meet," said coach Mark Bauer. "Going to state this weekend is the sugar, the reward."After finishing 16th as a team at state in 2012, Bauer and assistant coach Tamsyn Peterson both believe this team has the potential to finish even higher with a solid blend of talent, senior leadership and team unity.The Demons qualified seven swimmers and one alternate for the 4A state tournament this weekend in Thornton. Some of the 4A schools competing this weekend have student bodies nearly twice the size of GSHS.No matter, says freshman Kendall Vanderhoof, who will compete individually in the 200 individual medley and the 100 freestyle, as well as swim on the 200 free and the 400 free relays."We really want to show the big schools we can swim in Glenwood Springs," Vanderhoof said. "We're all pretty excited to do our best and have fun along the way."This team knows what it takes to be successful, winning the Fruita Invite, the Lady Demons Meet, the Aspen Invitational and most importantly, the Western Slope Championships.The girls also qualified as a Colorado High School Activities Association Academic All-State Team with a collective 3.58 GPA.Team captain Hannah Grumley will be making her fourth trip to the state tournament. The senior will swim in the 100 butterfly and 200 IM, and also compete with the 200 medley and 400 free relay teams. Her experience and leadership have been important factors in the Demons' success."I've learned not to go into any meet with expectations," Grumley said. "If I can top a personal-best time, then I'm happy. This team is so much fun because we all support each other and have really bonded as friends. We have the potential to do really well at state."Freshman Jessica Tuttle will swim in the state 200- and 500 free events, as well as the 200 medley and 400 free relays. She currently holds the second-fastest 4A state time in the 200-Free (1:56.04), the third-fastest 500-Free (5:13.78) and has broken two GSHS team records. Tuttle said she had her share of anxiety early on in the season and credits the Glenwood seniors for teaching her a few lessons about leadership."Anything I was scared or nervous about, the seniors helped me get through it," Tuttle said. "It will be so sad to see them go after this season."Glenwood Springs High School Athletic Director Craig Denney admits a hefty admiration for the ambition and dedication the swimmers have displayed this season. He calls them good swimmers, good students and good kids."I don't have to worry much about them," Denney said. "A lot of the swimmers are involved in other activities. They're a real well-rounded group. They also do their own fundraising." This is the second year that the team has been self-funded after district funding was eliminated, beginning in 2011-2012 school year. The team raised close to $10,000 to cover expenses this year."These girls and their families have made a huge commitment to raise money for the team," Denney said. "They don't get any money from the school. They do it all themselves, and they have a lot of parental and community support."Senior Rebecca Carcaterra is the team alternate and agreed the team literally wouldn't exist without the amazing community support they've received."It was great we could win the Western Slope Championships last weekend," Carcaterra said. "It was a way to show the Glenwood Springs community that their support was worth it."
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