Lady Panthers conclude year

Photo courtesy of Ian Maclaren

Kayla Hageman stands on the starting blocks Friday in Grand Junction, as Montezuma-Cortez teammate Emily Harris cheers on in the 400-meter freestyle relay. The Lady Panthers concluded their season Saturday in the Southwestern League duals at Colorado Mesa University.

Journal Staff Report

Montezuma-Cortez High School concluded its girls swimming season Saturday in Grand Junction.

The Lady Panthers placed seventh out of 12 teams at the Southwestern League duals on the campus of Colorado Mesa University.

Glenwood Springs won the championship. M-CHS bested Moffat County (Craig), Summit (Frisco), Palisade, Delta and Gunnison.

"Overall, a really exciting weekend for us," Lady Panthers first-year coach Ian Maclaren said. "Last year, we were at the bottom of the league. Obviously, a huge improvement. Last year, we had two in the top 16. This year, we had three girls place in the top 8. One sixth as the highest. That was exciting. I was happy with that."

Senior Emily Harris ended her career in sixth in the 500-meter freestyle at 6:24.74, which is a personal record for the Dolores High School student.

"Emily Harris swam the best time of her life. A really gutsy performance," Maclaren said. "She went out and raced people, and was very successful."

Madison VanBibber placed top 8 in the 50- and-100-free races.

"A big accomplishment for her," Maclaren said. "It's been awhile since we got someone on the podium in those events."

Elana Cope also made the podium with a seventh-place finish in the 500-free.

Other top 16 finishes came from Sera King (200-Individual Medley), Amanda Kill (200-free) and Amanda Haukeness (500-free).

The 200-meter relay team of Harris, VanBibber, Cope and King finished fifth to cap off a solid weekend for M-CHS.

"The improvements we had over a 10 week period, was great to see. I'm really proud of what they accomplished," Maclaren said. "We've really appreciated what our seniors Sydney Boren and Emily Harris have done. We will miss them."

The future of Lady Panthers swimming indeed looks bright with a core group of girls coming back.

However, the key to long term success is offseason training.

"Swimming is a sport that requires training year around. For us to get to that next level, that's where we have to go now," Maclaren said. "It's going to take a lot of work in the offseason and a lot of commitment. But I think we have a chance to do something special in the coming years. We tasted success this weekend and I have some girls that are hungry. I'm really impressed with all the girls' hard work and dedication. I'm excited for the future."

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