The Powell High School girls’ swimming and diving team is sending 12 athletes to the 3A state meet in Laramie this weekend, marking the final meet for seniors Caitlyn Miner and Katrina Twitchell.
At the Lander Last Chance meet last week, the Lady Panthers failed to add to their number of state qualifiers — though several came close.
“We had three athletes each get within 1 second of state qualifying standards,” said Powell head coach Bob Smartt.
Freshman Grace Harder did add a second state-qualifying event — dropping 12 seconds at the Last Chance meet to qualify in the 200 freestyle.
In her final season for the Lady Panthers, Miner has qualified to compete in nine individual events: The 100 butterfly, 100 backstroke, 100 breaststroke, 100 freestyle, diving, 200 individual medley, the 50 freestyle and the 200 freestyle.
Miner missed the 3A Regional meet two weeks ago due to illness, but Smartt said she should be ready to go for state. Miner hasn’t been the only Lady Panther dealing with illness, according to the second-year coach.
“Unfortunately, of our 12 state athletes, nine of them have had some kind of illness during the last three weeks,” he said. “However, we are finally getting healthy and looking forward to the meet. Caitlyn Miner lost two weeks of training due to pneumonia but she is working hard to regain her fitness and it will be great to have her back for her last meet.”
Twitchell has qualified for four individual events: The 500 freestyle, the 100 freestyle, the 100 butterfly and the 200 freestyle.
Joining Miner and Twitchell on the state team are: Ashlyn Aguirre (100 fly, 100 back, 500 free, 200IM), Emma Karhu (diving), Addison Morretti (100 fly, 100 back, 200 free, 200 IM, 500 free, 100 free), Sidney O’Brien (100 back, 100 free, 50 free, 500 free, 200 IM), Elizabeth Liggett (200IM, 500 free, 200 free, 100 free, 100 fly), Anna Fuller (200 IM, 500 free, 100 breaststroke, 100 free, 200 free, 50 free), Madison Lowery (50 free, 100 free, 100 back), Maddi Hackenberg (diving), Rachel Kuntz (100 fly, 100 breast, 200 IM) and Harder (500 free, 200 free).
Lander will once again be the team to beat, though Smartt is confident his team will compete well, despite battling illness. Also in the mix this year is Jackson, who dropped down from 4A last year.
“Lander is the strong favorite for the state title; we will be battling Buffalo and Lyman for a spot on the podium,” the coach predicted. “The meet will be faster this year, as Jackson has dropped down to 3A. We hear their enrollment numbers are up and they will graduate to 4A next year.”
Though the number of Powell’s state qualifiers dropped from 17 last season to 12 this year, Smartt said it will be the quality of the swims, not the quantity.
“While taking a smaller team to state than last year, all 12 of our athletes have a legitimate chance to score individual points for us at state,” he said.
The Class 3A diving and prelims will begin at 3:30 p.m. Friday in Laramie, and resume at 10 a.m. Saturday.