Call it deja vu, all over again: With one final shot at qualifying for the 4A State Swimming and Diving Championships in the 100 breaststroke, junior Emily Sawyer swam her best time of the season at last week’s Last Chance Meet in Green River, hitting the qualifying mark with a time of 1:17.57.
Sawyer found herself in the same situation last season, qualifying for state with her final opportunity. But qualify she did, and she’ll join four of her teammates swimming individual events in Gillette this weekend.
“Emily finally qualified in the 100 breaststroke, and she didn’t just barely qualify — she got it by almost an entire second,” said EHS head coach Kendra Asay. “That was awesome. That makes the Last Chance swim meet worth it. Overall, I think it went really well.”
While Sawyer was the only Lady Devil to hit a qualifying mark at the Last Chance Meet, several others had personal bests.
“We had a few girls who swam personal best-times, including Emily [Sawyer], with her qualifying time,” Asay said. “Kyndal Schmidt cut about 10 seconds off her 100 freestyle time, and four seconds off her 100 backstroke time.”
“The other teams had relays, which is something they didn’t have last year in this meet,” Asay added. “I didn’t send relays, but I don’t think it was a bad thing for them to just be focused on their individual events for the Last Chance meet. That’s their last opportunity to qualify, and all the relay teams go to state, so I don’t think it was a bad thing — especially for Emily, who was so close.”
Heading into state, the Lady Devils have five state qualifiers, with two qualified in multiple events. Teghan Hoff is qualified in both the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle, while Tayler Davis qualified in diving and the 50 freestyle.
“I think Teghan [Hoff] has a really good chance of making the finals in the 50 free,” Asay said. “She sits at No. 14 right now [the top 12 go to finals], but a lot of those girls that are ranked above her are girls who are qualified in every event, so they’ll have to pick what events they are going to do at state. I really think she’s going to make Top 12, or even better.”
Davis also sits just outside the Top 12 in diving, though with the aid of some new dives, that may change.
“Tayler Davis has been working on some new dives that have greater degrees of difficulty,” Asay said. “One of them she does really well, so I think having those tougher dives — where she’ll get more points due to the degree of difficulty — is really going to push her over to where she needs to be to make the finals. She’s sitting right on the edge.”
Sawyer (100 breaststroke), Allyssa Sepos (50 freestyle) and Kyndall Fernandez (100 butterfly) round out the Lady Devils qualifiers; a handful of others will also make the trip to round out the relay teams.
“We’re taking a few extra girls with us, just for relays, or in case we need backups for any reason,” Asay said. “The extra girls that we’re taking for relays are Kyndal Schmidt, Amber Hintz and Tawnya Beck.”
As for expectations going into state, Asay said she wants her girls, above all, to enjoy the experience, as well as understand and appreciate the hard work it took to get there.
“I hope all of our girls can make it to finals, but even if they don’t, I just hope they get personal-best times, and/or know that it is a great accomplishment even to make it to state,” Asay said. “That’s my hope for them. The girls that we’re taking for relays — whether they swim or not — I hope they can experience all that goes along with a state meet, and enjoy it. And hopefully, it will give them motivation to qualify next year.”
Finishing up her second season at the helm of the EHS girls’ swimming and diving program, Asay said she’s thrilled with the strides the team continues to make.
“I’m definitely excited — I feel like it’s a step up from last year, because we’ve qualified five girls, as opposed to four girls last year,” Asay said. “Having five girls qualified — two of them in two events — I feel like we have definitely improved from last year, which is always nice to see as a coach. It’s really exciting — I’m anxious to see these girls succeed at state, so it should be fun.”
Green River Last Chance Meet
3. Teghan Hoff 2:20.92
18. Kyndall Fernandez 30.07, 25. Tawnya Beck 32.66, 27. Amber Hintz 33.39, 30. Layci Carson 52.60
Girls 1 Mtr Diving
4. Tayler Davis 181.00, 7. Allysa Sepos 134.00
13. Allyssa Sepos 1:05.70, 25. Kyndal Schmidt 1:19.28
3. Kyndall Fernandez 1:13.51, 7. Kyndal Schmidt 1:26.57, 9. Amber Hintz 1:29.47, 12. Layci Carson 2:33.23
2. Emily Sawyer 1:17.57, 3. Teghan Hoff 1:20.86, 9. Tawnya Beck 1:39.48