Panthers swim team learns tough lesson against tough competition

Duran leads M-CHS with four Top 2 finishes against league’s best

Tifiny Mills swims the breast stroke in her 200 IM. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Tifiny Mills swims the breast stroke in her 200 IM.

Competing against some of the top teams in the West Slope League, the Montezuma-Cortez Panthers swim team performed well, while simultaneously finding out what it will take to be the best.

Panthers finish fourth in Durango

Competing in the five-team Durango Invitational on Jan. 24, the Panthers finished fourth overall behind Durango, Montrose and Grand Junction.

Leading the Panthers with her finest performance to date, freshman Bailey Duran finished second in the 200-yard individual medley (2:37.14) and first in the 500-yard freestyle (6:07.03).

Especially impressive was Duran’s ability to separate herself during the grueling 500-free, which she won by almost five seconds.

Also swimming well for the Panthers was junior Elana Cope, who, swimming with grit and determination, finished second in the 200-yard freestyle (2:24.50).

“I think the group performed really well,” said Cope, discussing her team’s performance. “We swam to our potential.”

Other Panthers turning in solid performances in Durango were sophomore Kayla Hageman and junior Amanda Haukeness. Hageman finished fifth in the 200-yard freestyle (2:29.60) and the 100-yard freestyle (1:06.95), while Haukeness finished fifth in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:28.11).

Panthers place fourth in Cortez

Competing against the same four teams in Cortez on Jan. 25, the Panthers again finished fourth while swimming well in their home pool. Durango High School finished first overall in the meet.

Leading the Panthers for the second consecutive meet was Duran, who finished second in the 200-yard individual medley (2:38.32) and second in the 500-yard freestyle (6:13.39)

Also impressive for the Panthers for the second consecutive meet was Cope, who finished second overall in the 100-yard butterfly (1:19.81).

For the entire Panthers’ team, the opportunity to swim in Cortez in front of local fans proved to be a rewarding experience.

“It was nice swimming in our pool,” said junior Selena LaPaz. “We were able to put the results of our hard work on display.”

With two weeks remaining until the West Slope Regional Championships, the Panthers will travel to Montrose (Jan. 31) and Delta (Feb. 1) before travelling to Grand Junction for their regional meet.

“The goal is for everybody to swim a best time and for the team to move up in our league,” said Cope.

Bailey Duran swims the breast stroke leg of her 200 IM. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Bailey Duran swims the breast stroke leg of her 200 IM.

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Elana Cope swims the 200 freestyle. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Cortez Journal Elana Cope swims the 200 freestyle.