Missy Franklin was the big show that made the Colorado High School State Championship ticket the hottest in town on Saturday, but she had to share the spotlight as Fossil Ridge’s Rhianna Williams ended her swimming career with a bang.
Franklin came back for her final senior season to help her team return to the state champions platform that they held in 2010 and gave up to Williams and Fossil Ridge last season. That involved her swimming two of her least-favorite events, the 200 IM and the 500 free, but the moves paid off as Regis Jesuit won their 2nd state title in three years.
The meet was swum at the EPIC pool in Fort Collins in front of a sold out crowd of 1,000 spectators.
Fossil Ridge won the meet-opening 200 medley relay in 1:45.37, including a 22.16 anchor from Williams. Swimming fans, and especially Utah swimming fans, will hope that she might reconsider her decision to run track instead of swim for the Utes next year after an incredible split for a high school swimmer.
Regis Jesuit, meanwhile, got a big scoring boost by finishing 2nd in that race, the same spot they were last year, without Franklin swimming. That would set a big tone for the final outcome of this meet.
Franklin drew first blood in what became almost a head-to-head team battle between Regis Jesuit and Fossil Ridge, winning the 200 IM in 1:56.85. That’s a new State Record (breaking the mark again set by Bonnie Brandon, a former Cherry Creek swimmer), and a new National Independent High School Record, breaking a 2008 record set by Kathleen Hersey in Georgia.
Fossil Ridge came back in the very next race with their star Williams, who won the 50 free in 23.02 as Fossil Ridge pulled into the lead. Annie Ochitwa was 2nd in 23.47, and Regis’ Taylor Wilson, only a sophomore, took 4th in 24.24.
Regis made up some big points in diving, where they had two scorers to Fossil Ridge’s none (Michal Bower from Loveland was the event champion), and the two teams scored about even points in the 100 fly, including a 55.64 silver medal from Fossil Ridge sophomore Bailey Nero. Though the stars of each team are graduating, don’t expect this rivalry to die-down anytime soon with so much youth on both sides.
In the 100 free came another Rhi Williams victory, dipping under 50 seconds for the first time in her career with a 49.90. Again, this reemphasizes how much value she could bring to a Utah team if she were to swim, as that time would put her immediately onto their A-Relay.
Then came the 500 free. Missy Franklin won that race again, swimming a 4:41.72 to push 13 seconds ahead of the field and break another State Record (though, after Ledecky was done across the country, even the great Franklin was still about 10 seconds from getting any records in this race). But here’s where the Regis Jesuit coach is making his money, even if he’s not the man overseeing Franklin’s day-to-day training. With a 1st-and-11th place finish in this, for a total of 26 points, and Fossil Ridge not scoring any, the meet’s momentum swung heavily back in favor of Nick Frasersmith. The Franklin camp told us ahead of the meet that Frasersmith was in charge of choosing her event schedule, and one might argue he nailed it. That well-time victory would put the Raiders in the lead, and they wouldn’t look back.
RJ won the 200 free relay in 1:36.19, with Franklin eschewing any personal state records to anchor in 22.12 after the aforementioned Wilson (24.46), Meggie chase (25.03), and Amy Lenderink (24.58). Meanwhile, Fairview took 2nd in 1:37.48, with Fossil Ridge in 3rd in 1:38.12. Note that Williams didn’t swim that race for FR, but if she had it could’ve come down to a her-vs-Franklin fight for the victory.
Regis Jesuit took a 3rd-place finish from Lindsay Painton (57.13) in the 100 backstroke, showing the great depth they have this year that far outweighs even Franklin’s contributions to this team, with Andie Turner from Lewis-Palmer winning in 56.28, which is her best time almost two seconds.
Brooke Hansen from Loveland won the 100 breaststroke in 1:03.35, and though a good third-place swim from FR junior Sammie Guay (1:06.01) was a good performance, they left themselves needing a DQ from Regis at the end of the meet to win. Hansen was the swimmer who finished runner-up to Franklin in the 200 IM as well.
Regis Jesuit had no reason to push their starts with a big lead over Fossil Ridge in the 400 free relay. With a 48.13 anchor from Franklin, they finished in 3:26.41, with Fossil Ridge 2nd in 3:28.75. Arapahoe, who had a big contingency here but could never claw their way into the team battle, taking 3rd in 3:31.34. (Rhi Williams, notably, anchored fast for her team again as well in 49.01).
Though Fossil Ridge and Regis Jesuit would duke it out for the team title, one other standout swimmer was at this meet and deserving of special mention: Ralston’s Erin Metzger-Seymour. For the second-straight year, she had a great meet and took home two titles. The first came in the 200 free in 1:49.92, a narrow win over Arapajo’s Ella Moynihan (1:50.30). She followed that with a 54.91 victory in the 100 fly in 54.91, which is her first time to dip under 55 seconds.
Regis Jesuit won the meet with 287 points and Fossil Ridge finished 2nd with 243 points.