Red Devil swimmers shine at state meet
by Jeff Richards
Contributing Writer
Feb 20, 2014 | 475 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Grand freshman Alexa Pierce competes in the 100-yard butterfly at the state 2A meet at BYU on Feb. 13. Pierce took first place in the event with a time of 1:02.29. Photo by Jeff Richards
Grand freshman Alexa Pierce competes in the 100-yard butterfly at the state 2A meet at BYU on Feb. 13. Pierce took first place in the event with a time of 1:02.29. Photo by Jeff Richards
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Two swimmers from Grand County High School earned first-place medals in individual events at the state 2A championship swim meet held at Brigham Young University in Provo on Thursday, Feb. 13.

GCHS freshman Alexa Pierce won both of her individual events in personal-record times. Pierce took first place in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 1 minute, 2.29 seconds and also won the 100-yard backstroke in a time of 1:03.91.

For the GCHS boys, senior Jackson Knowles took first place in the 100-yard butterfly with a personal-best time of 58.29 seconds, eclipsing his previous best of 1:00.26. Knowles also placed second in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 2:00.54, nearly six seconds faster than his previous best of 2:06.73.

“It was a great finish to the season,” said GCHS head coach Brian Pierce. “Several of our swimmers had personal-best times, and several of them moved up in the standings from where they were seeded.”

The Lady Devils finished the meet with 181 points, earning them fourth place as a team. North Summit won the girls state title with 244 points, while Emery was second with 221 and Rowland Hall placed third with 185.

For the boys, Rowland Hall took first place as a team with 223 points, followed by runner-up Emery with 170 and third-place North Summit with 166. Sixth-place Grand had 120 points.

A total of 10 schools participated in the event, which was the inaugural 2A state championship swim meet, meaning all first-place times set at the meet will go in the books as the official 2A state records. Before this year, 2A and 1A schools had to compete in the larger 3A classification, which made it difficult for swimmers at the smaller schools to qualify, let alone win any races at state.

The Red Devils, who had a total of 14 swimmers (seven boys and seven girls) made frequent trips to the awards podium to collect medals last Thursday. The top six swimmers in each of the 16 individual events received medals, as did the members of the top three relay teams in each of the six relay events (three relays for each gender).

The Red Devil boys won Grand’s first medals of the day when they placed third in the 200-yard medley relay. Duncan Reidhead, Treyton Helquist, Jackson Knowles, and C.J. Hren combined for a time of 1:57.88. Grand had entered the race as the No. 5 seed.

In the 200-yard freestyle event for the girls, GCHS freshman Jayelen Knowles earned a medal with a fifth-place time of 2:34.77. Teammate Sadie Bown, a sophomore, placed eighth in that same race with a time of 2:40.07.

Also for the girls, GCHS freshman River Richards earned two individual fourth-place medals, finishing the 200-yard individual medley in a personal-best time of 2:46.47 and also placing fourth in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:22.85. Junior Robin Willscheidt took third in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:21.94, and also medaled in the 100-yard freestyle with a sixth-place finish. Willscheidt’s time in that race was 1:07.43, just four-hundredths of a second faster than the seventh-place finisher.

Jayelen Knowles also earned a fifth-place medal in the 500-yard freestyle race, which she completed in a personal-best time of 6:52.21. Bown also earned 4 points in that event with her ninth-place finish in 7:22.75, also a personal best by several seconds.

The Lady Devils also placed second in the 400-yard freestyle relay, with Cora Johnston, Sadie Bown, Jayelen Knowles, and Alexa Pierce finishing in a time of 4:40.42. Grand’s girls also took fourth in their 200-yard medley relay, with Richards, Willscheidt, Pierce and Mandy Wilkinson teaming up for a time of 2:10.43.

For the GCHS boys, senior Treyton Helquist placed second in the 100-yard breaststroke with a personal-best time of 1:13.17.

Also earning points for the Red Devil boys was Duncan Reidhead, who placed ninth in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 25.34 seconds, and eighth in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 57.31 seconds. Additionally, teammate Hren placed 11th and 10th in those same two races, posting respective times of 25.83 and 58.67, also earning points for finishing among the top 12. Wiley Sheldon placed 11th in the 100-yard backstroke with a personal-best time of 1:16.21.

Also competing for the Red Devil boys were sophomores Drake Hackney and River Murdock. Hackney established a new personal best in the 200-yard IM and competed in a relay, while Murdock swam two relays and set a new personal best in the 200-yard freestyle.

In the 200-yard freestyle relays, Grand’s girls placed fourth and the boys placed fifth, each missing a medal but still earning team points.

“It was a great meet, with lots of close races, which made it very exciting to watch,” said coach Pierce, who thanked the parents, sponsors and aquatic center personnel for their help and support throughout the season.

“We had a terrific season, and I’m glad we were able to compete at this level,” Pierce added.

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