Demon swimmers kick off at League Relays |

Demon swimmers kick off at League Relays

Baron Zahuranec
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Chad Spangler Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” The Glenwood Springs High School swimming team is getting closer and closer to filling all the lane assignments that they possibly can.

Last year, the team fluctuated between 10 and 12 girls, fourth-year Demons head coach Michelle Brune said.

“I have 14 (girls) now, and it would be awesome if I was able to keep them around for the whole season,” she added. “It’s amazing how much difference two girls can make. For us, it’s a matter of it would be nice to have more swimmers, but you work with what you have.”

With just a few more swimmers, the Demons can be a little more competitive at meets and invitationals.

“It gives us a much better chance at scoring points and staying with the top teams that field more swimmers,” Brune said.

The Demons still have a few holes left to fill. If they could get three or four more girls, Brune thinks they’d do well against 4A Western Slope League powers Montrose, Durango, and, at times, Grand Junction.

“We’re a little bit on the small side,” Brune said. “And we need to work on the backstroke. In the past, there was a lack of the backstroke, but I’m really excited to see what Christina Smith, and maybe some of the other girls, can do.”

They may be on the young side, too, with freshman Jenna Sobke, sophomores Keevyn Scholl and Clara Thorsen, and juniors Bryann Milhorn and Rachael Sobke. Their three lone divers are also young: freshman Alexandra DeLeo, sophomore Nikki Pearson and Milhorn.

“These girls have formed a real cohesive group,” Brune said. “There hasn’t been any drama. The new girls are learning quickly and the older more seasoned girls are helping them right along.”

While the Demons lost Jessica Betts and Allison Schaiberger, senior captain Sierra Grove, once again, will be a multi-purpose swimmer who will be in the sprints a lot, her coach said.

“I think I’m pretty fast,” Grove said. “Freestyle is definitely my best stroke and I want to improve on my fly. That’s pretty weak.”

Grove hails from Coal Ridge High School and with some of the new, younger girls on the team, she’s not sure what to expect this season.

“Since I don’t know some of the girls, I’m getting to see how the team looks,” she said. “I think we’re going to do real good this year. All the girls are working hard.”

She’d like to make the Junior Nationals cut in the 50 and 100-yard freestyle this season. She wants to shave a second off her 50 time, and two seconds off the 100.

Last year at state, Grove was seventh in the state in both the 50 and 100 freestyle, and was the second swimmer on the 200 and 400-yard freestyle relays, which both placed 21st in the prelims.

Fellow captain Anna Wiltse also relies on her freestyle and wants to touch up on her back and breaststrokes. She was the third swimmer on the 200 and 400 freestyle relays at state.

“Along with qualifying in the relays (200 and 400 freestyle) for state, I want to get in on the 50 and 100 free,” she said. “I missed out last year. I was within a few seconds on each, a half second on the 50.”

Brune said she doesn’t like to pigeon-hole swimmers into certain spots, but she likes the looks of what sophomores Keevyn Scholl has done with the breaststroke and Thorsen on the butterfly.

“Definitely my breaststroke is my strength. I feel real good out there when I’m doing that,” Scholl said. “My weaknesses are back and fly, and if I improve on those then I’ll improve on the individual medley.”

Scholl placed 37th in the preliminaries at state in the 100 breaststroke, and anchored the final leg of the 200 and 400 freestyle relays.

“In our league, teams need to have someone who can swim in all the events and really push the competition,” Brune said of Scholl. “She still has some work to do on her backstroke and fly, but she is only a sophomore.”

Today, the Demons see their first competitive water of the season at the League Relays at Orchard Mesa Middle School.

Since it’s their first action, Brune will let the returning girls pick what events they’d like to enter, and the relays will be mixed up so a group won’t be all freshmen or sophomores.

“At the start of the season we really don’t keep track of scores, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t watching how everyone’s doing,” Brune said.

This week in practice, the Demons touched up on turns and starts, especially for the new swimmers, and getting the girls into strong swimming shape, Brune said.

“We’re not necessarily going there to win, but for more of a feeling for what it’s like to be in the races,” she said. “I want to see my returning girls help the new ones, and I want the new ones to push themselves.”

Unfortunately for the 1-meter divers, they won’t get to dive until Jan. 9 in Aspen.

Milhorn is the only returning Demon diver.

“I don’t think this will hurt them too bad,” Brune said. “The new girls probably aren’t quite ready yet, and that’s almost better for them. I don’t want to put them in a position where they’re really uncomfortable. We’ll keep working on their dives and see how it goes in January.”

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