The Panthers were bested in only diving and the 400 free relay, the latter of which they “lost” only because Powell exhibitioned the event, meaning their times did not count toward team scores. Powell’s ‘A’ relay team still had the event’s fastest time.
Thursday was the Panthers’ Homecoming meet and senior night, and the PHS band and cheer squad were in attendance to add some school spirit to the Powell Aquatic Center.
“For some reason every year we just seem to get a little bit more out of those nights,” said head coach Luke Robertson.
Jace Sharp may be a sophomore, but she made the most of senior night. Sharp, who had been on the cusp of qualifying in the 100 back for much of the season finally eclipsed the 1:15.30 mark by a tenth of a second and became the 16th Panther to earn her way to state.
Coach Robertson said he was proud of Sharp’s first ever qualification, which overjoyed the swimmer.
“She was definitely emotional and excited,” Robertson said.
The coach himself was happy Sharp achieved what the two of them had been working on so hard.
“As a coach you sit there and think at night and at practice, ‘What can I do as a coach to help them qualify?’” Robertson said. “It was really rewarding.”
The races were topped by Powell’s usual suspects, who showed the home crowd some of their best races as the conference and state meets near.
Sophomore Amanda Tracy was the only Panther to win both her individual events. She took first in the 200 free immediately after helping the 200 medley relay team win the meet’s opening event. Then, she won the 500 free with a personal best time of 5:38.59, third-best in Panther history.
Stephanie Liggett was the runner-up in the 200 free and and the winner in the 100 fly. The junior set new personal bests in each event, cutting 2.66 seconds in the 200 and 1.56 seconds in the fly.
Senior Baxter Heinert won the 100 back, was second in the 500 free, and cut time in both to make her final meet in her home pool a success. Baxter slashed 1.54 seconds off her 500 time and .94 seconds off her time in the 100 back. The time cuts are an even more impressive feat when you consider the grueling 500 precedes the 100 back by just two events.
“She hasn’t had a bad meet yet,” Robertson said. “There’s only two meets left so there’s no reason to say she can’t do the same at conference and then next weekend at state.”
Junior SarahJean O’Neill won the 200 IM by cutting .17 seconds for a 4A-qualifying time of 2:36.75. O’Neill later cut .28 seconds in her third-place effort in the 100 back.
Robertson said it’s a very good sign that so many of Powell’s top swimmers were still improving late in the season, which he attributes to more rest prior to meets.
“This year I’ve made a conscious effort to back them down the day before the meet,” he said. “It’s helping to build confidence that will help translate in conference and then in state.”
Freshman Aly Schneider won the 50 free, and was followed closely by three other Panthers.
Senior Lydia Allen took second with a personal best time of 29.22, freshman Emily Doughty finished third at 29.66 and sophomore Tristan Bohlman’s time of 29.77 was good for fourth.
Bohlman won the meet’s final individual event, the 100 breaststroke, with a time of 1:21.23, a 2.65-second improvement over her previous best. Taryn Bohlman took first in the 100 free and was fourth in the 100 breast.
Junior Gretchen Moretti followed Taryn in the 100 free with a personal best time of 1:05. 13. Allen was third in the 100 free and cut 1.55 seconds in the process.
Katie Doughty was the runner-up in the 200 IM and placed fifth in the 100 breast. The freshman improved by more than two seconds in each race.
Powell will travel to Jackson Thursday afternoon for a two-day 3A West conference meet. Preliminaries will begin at noon Friday and final heats will start 10 a.m. Saturday.
Robertson said he will begin tapering (resting swimmers so they are at their peak physical condition at state) some of the girls as needed over the next two weeks.
“I’m not necessarily going to taper all girls the same,” Robertson said. “Some girls will need a longer taper and some will need a really short taper.”
Attention to specific swimmers’ needs has put Powell in a position to fair well in the season’s final meets.
“We stayed pretty healthy all year,” Robertson said. “I think they’re (the swimmers’) heads are in the right place.”