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By Lauren Rigg
FORT COLLINS, Colorado, February 16. EVERGREEN High School won its first-ever CHSAA 4A girls' state swimming and diving championship at the Edora Pool Ice Center last night, showcasing incredible depth to run away with the team title with 332 points, followed by Thompson Valley (244) and Cheyenne Mountain (233).
The meet got off to an exhilarating start when Evergreen, the fifth-place seed after prelims, won the 200 medley relay in an upset over Manitou Springs. Evergreen's foursome of Lindsay Morrow, Josie Pearson, Bailey Smith and Kamryn Holland touched first in 1:48.28, followed by Manitou Springs (1:48.88) and Cheyenne Mountain (1:49.09).
The excitement continued in the 200 free as Eryn Eddy, a junior from Thompson Valley, led the race from start to finish and won with an Automatic All-American time of 1:48.89. She dropped four seconds from her prelim time and nearly broke her own 4A state record that she set at last year's state meet. D'Evelyn's Colleen Olson (1:54.23) finished second, while Cheyenne Mountain's Rhyann Lowery and Evergreen's Kate McDonald posted matching 1:56.55s for third. Eddy would later win the 500 freestyle with another Automatic All-American time of 4:56.03.
Next up, junior Lindsay Morrow from Evergreen won the 200 IM after establishing a dominant lead in the backstroke leg of the race and maintaining it through the finish. Morrow posted a 2:05.29 to top D'Evelyn's Jacinda Whittenburg (2:08.39) and Windsor's Morgan Friesen (2:08.77). Morrow's backstroke talents were highlighted again later in the meet when she won the 100 back in 55.69.
After breaking the 4A state record in prelims with an impressive time of 23.60, Niwot senior Hannah Driscoll was favored to win the 50 free. However, it was Brooke Stenstrom, a sophomore from Valor Christian, who got her hand on the wall first in finals with a time of 23.66. Driscoll touched second in 23.90, while Manitou Springs' Veronica Morin claimed third in 24.16. Later, Stenstrom would dominate the 100 free with a 51.70 to become one of three girls to win two events at the meet.
St. Mary's senior Alexa Beckwith became only the second female diver in Colorado history to win four consecutive diving state titles, and she did so in impressive fashion with a score of 479.75. Mullen's Katie Russ (464.75) and Niwot's Madison Barkow (422.95) took second and third, respectively.
Sydney Buckley, a senior representing Cheyenne Mountain, achieved a hat trick of wins in the 100 butterfly after winning the event for the third consecutive year. She topped the final heat in 55.85, with D'Evelyn's Brenna Bushey in second (56.37) and Thompson Valley's Kelly Sheldon in third (56.39).
Niwot kept the adrenaline rush going with a big early lead in the 200 free relay, as Hannah Driscoll broke her own 4A record in the 50 free with a 23.52 leading off. The Cougars couldn't hold on, however, as Thompson Valley pulled through for the victory in 1:37.01. Valor Christian finished second in 1:38.06, while Cheyenne Mountain placed third (1:38.78).
The 100 breaststroke went to Morgan Friesen, a freshman from Windsor, who broke the 4A record with a 1:02.73. Driscoll earned her second top-two finish with a 1:04.22, while Cheyenne Mountain's Sydney Buckley took third in 1:05.81.
The meet finished with a close race between Thompson Valley and D'Evelyn in the 400 freestyle relay; in the end, Thompson Valley prevailed, 3:32.07 to 3:32.66. Evergreen rounded out the top three in 3:37.48. All in all, the depth of talented athletes on the Evergreen team enabled the Cougars to finish the meet with a commanding win over the second place Thompson Valley.
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