Demons make most of big swimming stage
FORT COLLINS — Every journey begins with baby steps.
Such is the case for Glenwood Springs High School girls swim coach Danny Gall and his team. Sure, on paper the Demons had high expectations heading into the Class 4A state swim meet at Edora Pool Ice Center. But paper is a far cry from the reality that is the spectacle of the state meet.
“I think the girls knew what to expect, I feel like we could have performed a little bit better in the preliminaries [on Friday],” said Gall, who watched his 400-yard free relay team win its consolation final in a season-best time of 3 minutes, 46.31 seconds. “But overall, I thought their swims were good and this last relay [the 400 free] was excellent.”
The Demons will graduate a number of seniors, but the core of the team — including L.J Fetzko, Jessica Tuttle, Hannah Peterson and Kendall Vanderhoof — are all underclassmen, and Gall is excited about the incoming crop of freshman that should help them improve on their 10th-place team finish this year.
“That will only increase our depth,” Gall said. “So I have very high expectations for the next few years.”
Fetzko arrived in Fort Collins as the top seed in the 200-yard freestyle. On Friday in the prelims, she was nearly 2 seconds faster than her seed time and qualified fifth for the finals. A finals swim of 1 minute, 57.36 second was good enough for a seventh-place finish.
Not exactly what she was expecting, but she will take it in her first go round on the big stage.
“I didn’t expect to swim like this and I think I was expecting a little more,” Fetzko said. “It was a decent meet. I haven’t swam at a meet this big in a while, so it was kind of nerve wracking. It’s a big difference from those Western Slope meets.”
Fetzko just missed out on the championship finals in the 100 free, but did shave two seconds off her season-best time in the prelims. She ultimately capped her individual season with a 14th place finish in that event.
“It’s the little things. It’s not breathing right off the wall and making sure you don’t breathe from the flags in on the finish,” said Gall of the things that his team will work on to shave time and move up in the standing next season. “It’s having race strategy. It’s those little things that will add up to winners in the long run.”
Like Fetzko, Tuttle came in seeded second in the 500 free with visions of a high spot on the podium. After swimming her best time on Friday in the prelims (5:15.67), she was unable to drop any more time and finished sixth on Saturday. Top-seeded Eryn Eddy of Thompson Valley won the event by more than 15 seconds in 4:56.03.
“Either we’ll have a race like that or we will have a race where everyone is so close that you are sitting there biting your nails trying to figure out who is going to win,” said Tuttle, who also finished runner-up in her consolation heat of the 200 free. “There were a few new faces that we really didn’t expect to see, but really we expected it. It was hard to adjust though, because they are all really fast.”
Vanderhoof won her consolation heat of the 100 free — the same one Fetzko was in — in a personal-best time of 54.64 seconds. The Demons also finished 10th in the 200 free relay.
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Amid hundreds of cleat-footed little leaguers casually gathered along the first baseline, the glare of parents’ sunglasses deflecting the early morning sun, coach Troy Phillips began a trip down memory lane.