Every year, the Evergreen Cougars graduate some of their better swimmers, and every year, they find a way to replenish the cupboards for another run at a state title. 2021 doesn’t look like it …
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At the start of the season, there was reason to think Evergreen might not be able to threepeat as the 3A state championship team for 2021, with the graduation of standout swimmers Remi Gucker and Hope Atkins.
Turns out this year's team of swimmers had more than enough firepower to keep the title in Cougar hands once again. And they managed to do is without taking first in any of the 12 events at state on Monday at Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center in Thornton.
Evergreen won the team event with 360 points, beating Aspen, which took second with 273 points, and third place Glenwood Springs at 254 points. Conifer High School came in 12th. Head Coach Liz Hudd pegged Aspen as the team to watch at the start of the season to give the Cougars a run for their money in the title hunt. It ended up being an accurate prediction, as the Aspen girls actually led in the team standings going into the final three events of the meet.
“We were behind until the 10th event,” Hudd said, “and I had a little pep talk with them. (In the end) it was the depth of the team. Every single kid contributed to this win.”
Senior Sophia Gurrieri, team co-captain, said the pep talk was a turning point for the team.
“She said we deserved (to win state), and we were working really hard,” said Gurrieri, who had completed her events by that time.
“I was like, I’ve done my part,” Gurrieri said. “Now it’s time to get the energy going by giving little pep talks to the people swimming in the next events to make sure they’re in the right mindset to do the best they can.”
Hudd, who has been coaching the team both as an assistant coach and head coach for 21 years, called the win very special because it was a team effort of the 11 girls who competed at state.
“Historically our girls have risen to the occasion every single time,” Hudd said, “and I expected nothing less.”
She said this year’s team has been smaller than typical years — 27 swimmers strong — rather than the normal 45, which has allowed her to spend more time with them individually. She attribute’s Evergreen’s strong swimming team to its relationship with the Hurricanes club program, which has helped propel the high school team forward.
Senior and co-captain Sheila Crane called the state win even more special because it is probably her last swim meet, since she is not planning to be on a swim team in college.
She called Hudd motivational with a never-give-up attitude.
“She brought the team to three state titles,” Crane said. “I’m really proud of the whole team and how everyone rose up to the challenge. Every point mattered.”
200 Medley Relay: 2nd, Alyssa Cook, Taylor Jacobson, Finley Anderson, Sheila Crane
200 Free: 7th, Taylor Jacobson
200 IM: 6th, Alyssa Cook
50 Free: 7th, Sheila Crane
100 Fly: 4th, Finley Anderson; 10th, Taylor Jacobson
500 Free:7th, Kileigh Ackerman
200 Free Relay: 7th, Kari Hilquist, Sophia Gurrieri, Quinn Kelly, Sheila Crane
100 Yard Backstroke: 2nd, Finley Anderson; 10th, Kileigh Ackerman
100 Breast: 2nd, Alyssa Cook; 5th, Sheila Crane; 10th, Bell Sleeper
400 Free Relay: 2nd, Finley Anderson, Alyssa Cook, Kileigh Ackerman, Taylor Jacobson
200 Yard IM: 8th tie, Rachel Ley
500 Free: 9th, Rachel Ley; 10th, Emilie Coleman
100 Yard Breaststroke: 4th, Emilie Coleman
400 Yard Free Relay: 9th, Rachel Ley, Emilie Coleman, Katie Rew, Sage Swegle
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