“Our team’s doing really well right now,” said Panthers head coach Stephanie Warren. “(Assistant coach Jerry Rodriguez and I) are both very pleased with the way we’re swimming and the way things are falling into place.”
Warren said competing against perennial powerhouse Lander acts as a motivator for Powell’s swimmers.
“When we go to compete against them we just look at it as we’re going to swim against fast kids that’s going to push our kids,” Warren said.
Sophomore Alex Bjornstead and freshman Seth Fuller qualified for their first events of the season while five other Panthers added to their list of qualifications.
Bjornstead took first in the 100 back with a qualifying time of 1:06.27.
Sophomore Billy Baker set a personal best by finishing just .02 seconds behind Bjornstead for second place in the 100 back, an event he qualified for Dec. 7 in Lander. Baker qualified in two new events Saturday, the 50 and 100 free events. Baker opened the 200 yard medley relay with a 25.99 time in the 50 and later placed third in the 100 with a time of 58.33.
Fuller finished the 100 back with a time of 1:11.31, good enough for fifth place and his first qualification as a Powell Panther. Earlier in the meet, Fuller came just 1.52 seconds short of qualifying in the 100 free, finishing in 1:01.52, good for fifth place. Fuller is a student at Rocky Mountain High School in Cowley but competes for Powell High School as Rocky Mountain does not have a swim team.
Senior Jarred LaPierre qualified for the 200 free, finishing second with a time of 2:02.53, and has now qualified for all four freestyle events. LaPierre later won the 500 free with ease as he finished 16.24 seconds ahead of second place, setting a new personal best time of 5:43.84.
Junior Edward Oursler was Powell’s top swimmer in the 50 free, finishing third and qualifying with a time of 25.43. He set a personal best time in the 100 breast, winning by more than four seconds with a time of 1:14.29. Oursler leads the Panthers with five events qualified so far this season.
Warren said Oursler’s work ethic has led to his fast start.
“He started training on his own before the season even started,” she said. “He’s been a great leader. Even when he’s sick he comes and writes down the workouts and makes them up on a Sunday.”
Junior Nic Tracy led off the 400 free relay for Powell’s ‘B’ team with a time of 57.53 and added the 100 free to his growing list of qualified events in the process. He also set a new personal best time in the 200 IM, finishing in 2:24.49 and winning the event by 4.43.
Junior Quin Wetzel added the 500 free to his eclectic mix of qualified events by finishing third with a time of 6:06.88. Wetzel has qualified in the 100 fly, 200 IM and 1 meter diving events as well.
Sophomore Sam Brackett, also from Rocky Mountain High School, finished third in the 100 fly with a time of 1:21.51.
The Panthers don’t compete again until Friday, Jan. 4 at Cody. Powell then hosts the Gene Dozah Invitational on Jan. 5.
Unfortunately, due to Powell Aquatic Center’s hours of operation during the holidays, the team can’t use its break to practice and come back stronger. The team will continue on its normal practice through this week but will have only three practices next week (Dec. 27-29) before the Panthers return to school Jan. 1.
“We’re going to have a lot of work when we come back from Christmas break,” Warren said. “We’re going to have to make up for lost ground.”