Personal bests abound for Demons at WSL championships
The Glenwood Springs High School boys swim team headed to Grand Junction on Friday for the Western Slope League championships a man down, as the Demons have been for the past several weeks.
Regardless, the five swimmers Glenwood sent swam, as put by head coach Mark Bauer, with “the heart and pride of multitudes.”
In order for the Demons to qualify for Saturday’s finals and consolation finals, the boys had to finish in the top 12. The squad was entered in 12 events for Friday’s preliminaries and, remarkably, qualified to swim Saturday in each and every event.
The Demons started off with a bang.
The 200-yard medley relay team of Jack Cassidy, Geoff Moore, Max Bryant and Cole Newton knocked two seconds off its seed time to qualify for the finals in fourth place. Their time: 1 minute, 51.94 seconds.
The 200 freestyle showcased Glenwood senior Jonathan De Leo and Cassidy, a freshman at Eagle Valley who swims with the Demons. De Leo swam his best time of the year to make the consolation finals, while the young Cassidy managed to squeak into the finals by fourteen-hundredths of a second.
Bryant, a freshman at Aspen, proceeded to best the field and set the stage for an intense race in the 200 individual medley finals. The youngster knocked three seconds off his seed time, clocking a 2:05.97.
Next, Glenwood seniors Newton and Moore joined the party. Swimming in a 50 freestyle that had less than two seconds separating second place from 16th place, the two showed grit by qualifying 11th and 12th while swimming best times.
After a short break, Newton went back to work in the 100 freestyle, swimming his best time ever to qualify in 11th for Saturday’s consolation finals.
The frosh duo of Bryant and Cassidy hit the water and cruised to qualifying times in second and fifth, respectively, in the 500 freestyle. This foreshadowed the show the youngsters would put on the following day.
De Leo entered the pool as a long shot to qualify in the 100 backstroke. Showing tenacity, he swam his best time to take the 12th spot into Saturday.
Moore was on deck next for the 100 breaststroke.
“It was a task to follow Jonathan’s gritty swim, but the senior was up to the challenge,” Bauer said.
Behind his best swim of the year, Moore shaved two seconds off his time to take the eighth spot. He just missed the state time that has eluded him all season.
After so many big swims, the Demons were spent but had one more task at hand – the 400 freestyle relay. Cassidy, Newton, Moore and Bryant dug deep to finish fourth.
“Day one was amazing,” Bauer said. “Ten of the 12 swims were the best times and the team moved on to the points round in every event. Demon pride was everywhere!”
After so many big swims, the Demons were spent but had one more task at hand – to succeed in placing in the top six in the 400 free relay. Cassidy, Newton, Moore and Bryant dug deep to finish fourth.
Back to the pool for the finals
After a huge day of prelims, the Demons returned to El Pomar Natatorium with an unfinished business outlook.
The five-man squad was ready to battle teams more than twice its size and up to seven or eight times its size.
“It became apparent rather quickly that the team was not frightened,” Bauer said.
Cassidy, Moore, Bryan and Newton started off the finals by dropping another two seconds off their 200 medley relay’s previous best time. The quartet touched in at fourth place with a time of 1:49.71.
Cassidy got a little rest while watching De Leo swim in the B final of the 200 freestyle. The senior produced a ninth-place finish.
Next, it was Cassidy’s turn in the A final. The freshman delivered, dropping five seconds from his prelim time to finish sixth with a time of 1:55.19. In the midst of the swim, he also swam his best 100 free time, going out in 54.99.
In the race of the meet, Bryan gave the teams in the Western Slope League a little taste of what they’re going to see for three more years.
The 200 individual medley was one for the books. Bryant was in fourth place after the first 50. The backstroke leg was pretty even, with the freshman moving up a position by a fraction of a second.
During the breaststroke leg, it was evident the race was going to come down to Bryant and Montrose’s Michael Barnosky, a superstar breaststroker.
Barnosky turned for the freestyle leg with a lead of a half-body length.
The next 27.81 seconds were a blur.
Bryant reeled in Barnosky a stroke at a time. With the crowd screaming, the Aspen freshman out-touched Barnosky by one-hundredth of a second.
In the end, Bryant finished in 2:01.92, dropping five seconds from his prelim time while claiming the Demons’ first victory of the weekend.
The senior duo of Cole Newton and Geoff Moore had a tough act to follow.
In another 50 freestyle battle in which seventh through 12th place was decided in under a second, the young men swam their best times to finish 11th and 12th.
Newton was quickly back in the water again for the 100 freestyle. Newton’s dedication to kicking brought him from 12th place all the way up to ninth in the last 15 yards. The senior swam the 100 in his best time of 56.67.
The time had come again for the freshman phenoms to hit the pool in the 500 freestyle.
Bryant broke away from the field at the 300 mark to swim to his second victory of the meet. The Aspen freshman went 4:58.69, beating the second-place finisher by five seconds and dropping 12 seconds from his prelim time.
Cassidy continued his assault on his best times, knocking off 13 seconds from his prelim mark and finishing fourth in a time of 5:12.29.
De Leo bested his previous best time in the 100 backstroke by almost a second, swimming to a 12th-place finish.
Moore dove in the water with a bone to pick in the 100 breaststroke. The state cut time had been eluding all year, but he reached the mark by clocking his best time of the season – a 1:08.73. That landed him eighth place and qualified him for next weekend’s state meet.
With no time to spare, Moore returned to the pool with teammates Cassidy, Newton and Bryant for the 400 freestyle relay. The boys dropped seven seconds from their prelim swim to finish fourth in a season-best time of 3:43.12.
“The Demons swam best times in 11 of 12 events and finished in a tie for fourth place out of six teams,” Bauer said. “A truly amazing feat!
“The Demons would like to thank all their friends and family who came out to cheer them on. For the smallest team at the meet, the Demons had the loudest cheering section by far. Demon pride!”
Glenwood will be back in Grand Junction Friday and Saturday for the 4A state championships.
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