Three swimmers from Grand were division champions in at least one individual event. Senior Jackson Knowles placed first in the 200-yard freestyle in a time of 2 minutes, 7.94 seconds, and also won the 100-yard butterfly in a personal-best time of 1:00.26.
For the Lady Devils, freshman Alexa Pierce won both of her individual events, establishing personal records in both. Pierce won the 100-yard butterfly in a time of 1:03.19, nearly 18 seconds faster than her closest competitor in that race. She also placed first in the 100-yard backstroke in a time of 1:05.35, not only breaking her previous best by more than a second but also bettering the top male swimmer’s time at the meet by more than two seconds.
The other individual division champion from Grand was freshman Jayelen Knowles, who won the gold medal in the 200-yard freestyle just as her older brother had done. Her winning time was 2:33.78. Jayelen Knowles also placed second in the 500-yard freestyle race with a personal-best time of 7:00.98.
Grand also took first in both the girls and the boys 200-yard freestyle relays. In the girls’ race, Mandy Wilkinson, Cora Johnston, Sadie Bown, and Jayelen Knowles teamed up to win the race in 2:11.34, exactly two seconds ahead of second-place Emery. In the boys’ 200-yard freestyle relay, Grand’s C.J. Hren, River Murdock, Duncan Reidhead, and Jackson Knowles won the race in a time of 1:45.03, edging Emery’s team by nearly four seconds.
Four other Grand swimmers also earned automatic qualifying bids for state by taking second place in individual events. Sophomore Sadie Bown took second in the 200-yard freestyle with a personal-best time of 2:40.05. Freshman River Richards placed second in the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 2:48.13. For the Grand boys, junior Duncan Reidhead took second in the 50-yard freestyle with a personal-best time of 25.22 seconds, and senior Treyton Helquist placed second in the 100-yard breaststroke with a personal-best time of 1:14.09.
The Lady Devils also placed second in both the girls 200-yard medley relay and the 400-yard freestyle relays. Jayelen Knowles, Richards, Pierce, and Mandy Wilkinson combined for a time of 2:19.91 in the 200-yard relay while Pierce, Bown, Cora Johnston, and Richards finished the 400-yard relay in 4:38.89. The Emery Lady Spartans won both races.
“We had some terrific times, and it was an all-around great meet for us,” said GCHS head coach Brian Pierce. He said the Red Devils might see even more state qualifiers, based on how many end up in the top 16 overall times.
“The 2A North Division meet isn’t until Wednesday [Jan. 29], so we won’t know anything for sure until after that meet takes place,” Pierce said. “Actually, the placings and seedings for the state meet won’t be official until Feb. 6. We will just have to submit our times and see what happens.”
Several other GCHS swimmers could also qualify for state meet spots by posting one of the top 16 individual times so far this season. For example, junior Robin Willscheidt, who was in New York with the GCHS debate team and didn’t attend the divisional meet, is almost certain to qualify for state in the 100-yard breaststroke, as her best time of 1:18.86 is currently fourth highest among 2A swimmers. Teammate Richards is listed fifth overall in that same race with a time of 1:21.56, so she also is likely to compete in that event at state, even though she placed third at the divisional meet.
Other Red Devil swimmers who may also qualify include Hren and Drake Hackney for the boys, and sophomore Mandy Wilkinson for the girls, plus a handful of relay swimmers, coach Pierce said. He noted that each swimmer may swim no more than four events in any high school meet, including the state meet, at least one of which (but no more than two) must be an individual event.
At Saturday’s division meet, host team Emery High won first place in both the boys and girls categories, with the Spartan boys totaling 180 points to runner-up Grand’s 97 points. Third-place Delta had 78 points, and Millard scored 15. In the girls category, Emery won with 167 points, while Grand was second with 124. Third-place Delta had 72 points, Wasatch Academy was fourth with 16, and South Sevier was fifth with 14 points.
The state 2A meet is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 13 at Brigham Young University in Provo. Pierce said the Red Devils will continue to hold regular practices as they await word on the final qualifications and competition schedule for state.
“Each meet we swim at, our athletes continue to impress me with their dedication and their desire to perform,” Pierce said. “I couldn’t ask for better athletes. I just wish there were more of them. Even though we are coming to the end of our season, they are still giving 100 percent, and most times a little more.”