M-CHS set for regionals

Lady Panthers swim to 2nd place in Delta, prepare for league relays

Madison VanBibber pops out of the water in the 100-yard butterfly during the Montezuma-Cortez High School swimming meet Dec. 1, at the Cortez Recreation Center Pool. The sophomore is gearing up for the league meet Friday and Saturday in Grand Junction with hopes of advancing to state. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Madison VanBibber pops out of the water in the 100-yard butterfly during the Montezuma-Cortez High School swimming meet Dec. 1, at the Cortez Recreation Center Pool. The sophomore is gearing up for the league meet Friday and Saturday in Grand Junction with hopes of advancing to state.

Montezuma-Cortez High School's girls swimming team appears to be peaking at the right time.

The Lady Panthers swam their best meet last Friday at the Delta Invitational.

M-CHS placed second out of five teams. A full roster Durango team won the meet. But the Lady Panthers bested Moffat County (Craig), host Delta and Gunnison.

"The girls swam really, really well. It was the best they girls swam all year," first-year M-CHS coach Ian Maclaren said. "Second-place was a huge accomplishment. It's been a long, long time since a team has beat Moffat County. It was really exciting to have great times individually and a great team meet."

Madison VanBibber and Emily Harris continue to dominate the lanes.

VanBibber set a personal record of 27.08 in the 50-meter freestyle, which was good for third-place. She also took third in the 100-free at 1:00.06.

Harris was second in the 200-free in 2:20.97 and 500-free at 6:27.28.

"Emily Harris had an incredible meet. Emily is a special swimmer," Maclaren said. "(She has an) incredible competitive drive and work ethic. She decided she was going to get in the water and beat some people, and she did. For a senior, who has been swimming four years to cut that much time, is huge. It's fun for me to see a senior closing out her career on a positive note. I think Emily sets a positive example for everyone on our team."

Harris won the 500-free in Aspen last Saturday with a time of 6:39.59.

The Lady Panthers were third as a team at Aspen.

"It was a little more rougher meet for us. I think the drive and the altitude took a tool on us. But I think it was a good earning experience for us," Maclaren said. "Achieving consistency is what we need to do. I'm hoping we can learn from it. Hopefully, the girls took notice from the girls from Aspen. Those girls train 12 months a year. Hopefully, we can reach that level."

Other times in Delta saw Elana Cope take third in the 100-meter butterfly at 1:18.07. Sera King was the runner-up in the 200 Individual Medley relay at a time of 2:47.24.

"Overall, the effort was good. As a coach, at the end of the day, that's what you look for and keep moving forward," Maclaren said. "The girls have really worked hard through the season and it's really starting to pay off. It was good across the board. I think the girls have a lot of confidence. You start to see energy and strength, and I think that's what you saw. This is a preview to come at leagues this weekend."

M-CHS indeed gears up for the Southwestern League relays this Friday and Saturday in Grand Junction on the campus of Colorado Mesa University. Saturday's meet is the regional round to advance to state.

"Madison VanBibber just keeps getting faster. She has a shot to make state this weekend," Maclaren said. "Madison goes out there every week and is at near the top every week."

Maclaren describes the CMU Pool as "fast." Maclaren hopes his intense training regimen will give the Lady Panthers an advantage in Grand Junction.

"I'm really excited for the league meet. I'm excited to see where we stand," he said. "Our team goal, is beat as many teams as we can. As long as the girls swim up to their potential, we can finish in the top half of the league. That would be a big accomplishment for us."

Harris is also looking to end her swimming career at state.

"Emily is also someone I expect to see swimming on the next day and Madison is in position to make top-8 in her events," Maclaren said. "Individually, my goal is to get as many girls swimming on that second day as I can. You just got to leave a 100 percent in the pool. You go as hard as you can and trust your training. That's what I'm expecting from the girls. I have big expectations for them this weekend."

Swimming begins Friday and Saturday at 4 and 2:30 p.m.