Johnson wins 3A State Diving Championship; Sepos 3rd
Lady Devils finish 8th as a team at 3A State Meet
Led by a State Championship in diving by sophomore Rachel Johnson and a third-place in the same event by senior Allyssa Sepos, the Evanston High School girls’ swimming and diving team competed well at last weekend’s 3A State Swimming and Diving Championships in Gillette, placing eighth as a team.
“It went really well — Brooklyn Larsen made it to the finals in both of her events, all of our relays made it,” said EHS head coach Teri Wilt. “And obviously, Rachel and Allyssa had fantastic weekends. Last year, out of 14 teams, we finished 12th. This year, we finished eighth — you always want to be higher, but we were pretty happy with the outcome.”
The Lady Devil divers had a couple of edge-of-your-seat storylines unfolding over the course of the weekend, with Johnson locked in a dead heat with Buffalo’s Olivia Maerten for the top spot, while Sepos was in danger of not advancing to the final 12 after a subpar first day of competition.
“It was a little too close for comfort,” Wilt said, laughing. “The first day, Allyssa was really off — she was really struggling, and I was actually getting concerned she might not make it to finals; she was missing each dive. But she came back really strong on Day 2.”
Meanwhile, Johnson and Maerten continued their neck-and-neck battle into Day 2, before Johnson finally edged out the Lady Bison senior by the slimmest of margins, 398.10 to 398.20.
“It was a coin flip going into Saturday — we were on edge, for sure,” Wilt said. “Rachel’s a competitor — she knows how to compete. But Olivia came in with one of her dives actually having a higher degree of difficulty, so we were nervous about that. Olivia messed up on her second dive, a little bit — she was a little bit over. I knew that was kind of the opening we needed — we told Rachel, ‘You hit your next dive, and it will be yours.’ Everyone was on pins and needles, that’s for sure.”
For her part, Johnson said she knew going into Saturday it was going to be close, though she felt confident in her ability.
“Going into Saturday, I knew it was going to be close because of the degree of difficulty difference for finals,” she said. “After Friday, I was feeling pretty confident, and I was super-excited to see how finals were gonna go. It was a great competition, and [Maerten] is an amazing diver; I knew it was going to close, but not that close.”
Sepos — who will continue to dive for Wilt in USA diving — had a nearly-flawless Day 2, storming back into the Top 3 on the strength of her last three dives.
“Allyssa scored over 100 points on the last day to bring herself up to third place,” Wilt said. “I think this was a really good experience for her — she had to figure out how to pull herself back together, because she was pretty bummed on Day 1, pretty disappointed in herself, and it’s easy to keep that going. But she turned it around, had a really good attitude on the next day and was ready to compete.”
Johnson said having Sepos with her in the Top 3 was a great way to end the season.
“Having Allyssa in the Top 3 with me was amazing, because she has come so far with diving, and had an amazing comeback,” she said. “I love to see her succeed and be right on top with me.”
Other notable performances included sophomore Brooklyn Larsen, who made it to the finals in both of her individual events. She placed 10th in the 200 freestyle (2:12.99) and 12th in the 100 freestyle (59.00).
All three relay teams advanced to the finals, led by a ninth-place finish in the 400 freestyle relay by the team of Allyssa Sepos, Lyra Hutchinson, Brooklyn Larsen and Clara Hutchinson (4:11.33). The 200 medley relay team of Clara Hutchinson, Brooklyn Larsen, Lyra Hutchinson and Allyssa Sepos finished 10th (2:07.40), while the 200 freestyle relay team of Allyssa Sepos, Raquel Rasmussen, Cera Fadden and Lyra Hutchinson finished 11th (1:52.90).
“All of our swimmers did well,” Wilt said. “Some of our sophomores were brand new to state, having not qualified last year. We had lots of PRs on the first day, and we needed it, because that’s what gets you into the finals. The girls just swam their hearts out. Cera Fadden — she was just a little nervous wreck. All we asked was, she didn’t DQ, and she swam her hardest and got a PR. We knew going in she probably wouldn’t make finals, and that’s OK — she got that state experience, and next year, she’ll be stronger. It was a good time for all of us. The team is super-close and supportive of each other.”
The Lady Devils will make the jump to 4A next season, though with the loss of just two seniors off this year’s team, the future looks bright for the program.
“I think the move to 4A will make the girls push harder,” Wilt said. “We enjoy 3A — the other teams are fun to be around. But we’re going 4A, so we’ll be ready. We’re only losing two seniors, and our sophomore team is strong, and will only get stronger. It’s exciting we’ll have them for two more years.”
3A Girls’ State
Swimming and Diving Championships
1. Green River 296, 2. Lander 260, 3. Powell 185, 4. Cody 135, 5. Douglas 131, 6. Kemmerer 90, 7. Worland 62, 8. Evanston 50
200 Medley Relay
10. Clara Hutchinson, Brooklyn Larsen, Lyra Hutchinson, Allyssa Sepos 2:07.40
10. Brooklyn Larsen 2:12.99
19. Cera Fadden 2:39.28
Girls 1 Mtr Diving
1. Rachel Johnson 398.20, 3. Allyssa Sepos 361.65
23. Lyra Hutchinson 1:14.06
12. Brooklyn Larsen 59.00
19. Clara Hutchinson 6:24.60
200 Freestyle Relay
11. Allyssa Sepos, Raquel Rasmussen, Cera Fadden, Lyra Hutchinson 1:52.90
23. Cera Fadden 1:25.12
400 Freestyle Relay
9. Allyssa Sepos, Lyra Hutchinson, Brooklyn Larsen, Clara Hutchinson 4:11.33