Barracudas chomp opponents
As Emily McDonald was etching her name among the best swimmers in the United States, other members of the Sopris Barracuda swim club were making a big splash at the Western Slope Championships in Rangely.
By the end of the weekend, the Glenwood Springs-based swim team had plenty to crow about.
McDonald established herself as a rising star in a USA Swimming sectional meet in Mount Hood, Ore.
The 14-year-old Glenwood Springs High School freshman finished 13th overall, swimming the consolation final of the women’s 50-meter freestyle.
McDonald was one of the youngest participants in a field of 107 competitors to earn their way to the sectional meet, based on previously set qualifying times.
Heading into the 50-meter preliminary heats, McDonald’s 28.15 second qualifying mark, set at the 2002 Colorado Junior Olympics meet, was the 26th fastest in the field.
In Oregon, McDonald slashed that previous best down twice.
McDonald shaved off 0.36 seconds from her old lifetime best in the prelims. The 27.79 mark was low enough for her to make the consolation finals against eight other swimmers.
In that race, McDonald swam even faster.
Pushed by fellow Coloradoan Kristen Lahey, 15, McDonald ticked the wall at 27.64 seconds – an improvement of 0.15 seconds from the prelims.
Lahey finished one one-hundredth of a second ahead of the Barracuda swimmer.
Kim Herada, 22, from Pennsylvania, won the event in 26.40.
Alina Roberts, McDonald’s Barracuda and GSHS teammate, swam to a time of 28.83 in the prelims and did not advance.
McDonald also qualified for the sectional meet in the women’s 100-meter.
She did not advance out of the preliminaries in that event, finishing 33rd among 115 swimmers.
McDonald did, however, did set a personal best, finishing the swim in 1 minute, 1.33 seconds, a reduction of 0.14 seconds.
`Cudas take 15 gold medals
In Rangely, six members of the Barracudas collected a total of 15 Western Slope Championship gold medals.
Swimming in seven events, Sierra Grove came up golden six times.
The 12-year-old won the 11-12 girls’ 50-yard freestyle, the 100-yard backstroke and freestyle, the 200-yard free and individual medley, and topped it off by winning the 500-yard freestyle.
Three of Grove’s first-place swims were also personal bests this season.
Luke Jacob and Jennifer Betts brought home three gold medals each.
Jacob, 10, won the 9- to 10-year-old boys 50- and 100-yard freestyle, plus the 100-yard breaststroke.
Betts, 14, had the best swim in the 13- to 14-year-old girls 50-, 100- and 200-yard freestyles.
Hattie Gianinetti earned her Western Slope title in the 8-and-under 100-yard freestyle. Her older brother Kade Gianinetti won the 13- to 14-year-old boys 50-yard breaststroke.
And Claire Noone earned her gold medal in the 13-14 girls 100-yard breaststroke.
Now the Barracudas are headed to the Colorado Long Course Championships, to be held July 24-27 in Fort Collins.
Swimmers headed for the meet are McDonald, Roberts, Betts, Grove, Jacob, Noone, Keely Roberts, Vashti Chandler, Jonathan Jay and Craig Riggins.
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The Coal Ridge High boys suffered their first 3A Western Slope League loss of the year Thursday night on the road at Gunnison, falling to the defending league champion Cowboys 65-45.