Heading into the 3A State Swimming and Diving Championships last week with 20 qualified swimmers and a conference title under its belt, the Powell High School girls’ swimming and diving team …
Heading into the 3A State Swimming and Diving Championships last week with 20 qualified swimmers and a conference title under its belt, the Powell High School girls’ swimming and diving team expected a strong showing.
The Lady Panthers didn’t disappoint, finishing fourth as a team. Lander Valley took the team title for the fourth consecutive year with 274 points. Buffalo was second with 206, Lyman third with 173 and Powell fourth with 162. Sublette County rounded out the top five with 155 points.
Diver Emma Karhu won the Lady Panthers’ lone state championship with a commanding 11-dive score of 383.85 points, good for fourth place on the Powell Wall of Fame. Karhu’s score was almost 70 points ahead of her closest competition, Douglas’ Lauren Pooley, who took silver with a score of 314.05. It was Powell’s first diving championship since Lindsey Bischoff won the title in 2002.
“It was really awesome,” Karhu said of the experience. “All my work had paid off, and I was able to relax and have fun with it. I felt confident going in, but I also knew anything could happen. To win it was very special.”
Freshman Kami Jensen and junior Maddi Hackenberg also scored points for the Lady Panthers in diving, finishing fifth (287.35) and eighth (245.15), respectively, while PHS diving coach Heather Christensen was named 3A Assistant Coach of the Year. Sophomore diver Taycee Walker finished as first alternate (13th), improving substantially on her seed.
“Our divers rocked,” said PHS head coach Bob Smartt. “Emma Karhu won the state title with a score that was a personal best by 29 points. Kami Jensen was the only freshman diver to score at the meet and Maddi Hackenberg moved up two places in the final to finish eighth.”
In the pool, the Lady Panthers were led by junior swimmer Elizabeth Liggett, who finished third in both the 200 (2:03.11) and 500 meter (5:40.27) freestyle events.
“Elizabeth [Liggett] also did damage to the Wall of Fame,” Smartt said. “In the 200 freestyle, she improved her personal best by five seconds. In the 500 freestyle she was also third, a four-second personal best. Both swims will now rank fourth on the Powell Wall of Fame.”
Senior Anna Fuller “had her best ever state meet,” according to Smartt, with two championship final performances. Fuller was fourth in the 200 IM (2:25.88) and fifth in the 500 freestyle (5:49.64).
“Anna made a huge contribution to our team the last four years, driving many miles from ... Rocky Mountain [High School] to become a Panther,” Smartt said.
Lucia Harder also placed in two championship finals: The freshman took sixth in both the 200 IM (2:30.04) and the 100 butterfly (1:04.42). Harder earned the second-most points among freshmen at the meet, behind Lany Duncan of Lander, Smartt said.
Battling a respiratory illness in the weeks leading up to the state meet, junior Addison Moretti nonetheless won the consolation finals in both the 200 (2:10.88) and 500 (5:55.83) freestyles, showing a “great competitive spirit,” according to Smartt.
Other Lady Panthers who scored points for the team included Sydney Legler. She posted a five-second personal best to take ninth in the 200 freestyle (2:12.97). Madison Lowery placed ninth in the 100 freestyle (59.27), and 10th in the 50 freestyle (26.43), while Sidney O’Brien finished 12th in both the 50 free (26.78) and 100 backstroke (1:07.68).
Senior Ashlyn Aguirre placed 11th with a personal best in the 200 individual medley (2:31.72), while fellow senior Rachel Kuntz was 12th in the 100 butterfly (1:12.18).
“Seniors Sidney O’Brien, Ashlyn Aguirre and Rachel Kuntz provided important leadership during the last year as high character athletes who set a tone of excellence in practice,” Smartt said.
With 20 qualifiers, Powell had the largest number of state competitors of any team at the meet. First time qualifiers included Lily Halter, Dakota Hansen, Lucia Harder, Jensen, Kylie Kahl, Legler, Emma Mitchell, Gabby Paterson, Grace Sapp and Taycee Walker.
“Important state meet experience was gained by our 10 athletes who were first-time qualifiers,” Smartt said. “Three of our 10 first-time qualifiers placed individually in the meet, while nine of our 10 seasoned athletes placed.”
The Lady Panthers will return 15 state qualifiers next season — a fact Smartt said bodes well for the future.
“There is often a hidden plan in life that gives us a signal for future action,” he said. “We can take lessons learned from the 2019 state meet as strong motivation for the 2020 season. Green River High School will be dropping to 3A and will be the prohibitive favorite to win 3A. However, a return to the team podium (top three team) is a very achievable goal for the Panthers.”
1. Lander Valley High School 274, 2. Buffalo High School 206, 3. Lyman High School 173, 4. Powell High School 162, 5. Sublette County High Schools 155, 6. Cody High School 118, 7. Riverton High School 83, 8. Kemmerer High School 65, 9. Douglas High School 43, 10. Worland High School 40, 11. Newcastle High School 39, 12. Rawlins High School 17
200 Medley Relay
6. Sidney O’Brien, Anna Fuller, Lucia Harder, Madison Lowery 1:59.44
3. Elizabeth Liggett 2:03.11, 7. Addison Moretti 2:10.88, 9. Sydney Legler 2:12.97, 20. Gabby Paterson 2:19.03
200 Individual Medley
4. Anna Fuller 2:25.88, 6. Lucia Harder 2:30.04, 11. Ashlyn Aguirre 2:31.72, 18. Grace Harder 2:43.33
10. Madison Lowery 26.43, 12. Sidney O’Brien 26.78, 15. Lily Halter 27.40, 18. Emma Mitchell 27.92
1 Mtr Diving
1. Emma Karhu 383.85, 5. Kami Jensen 287.35, 8. Maddi Hackenberg 245.15, 13. Taycee Walker 162.80
6. Lucia Harder 1:04.42, 12. Rachel Kuntz 1:12.18, 13. Ashlyn Aguirre 1:08.38, 16. Sydney Legler 1:09.62
9. Madison Lowery 59.27, 18. Lily Halter 1:11.66
3. Elizabeth Liggett 5:40.27, 5. Anna Fuller 5:49.64, 7. Addison Moretti 5:55.83, 13. Grace Harder 6:17.76
200 Freestyle Relay
5. Lucia Harder, Madison Lowery, Addison Moretti, Elizabeth Liggett 1:46.69
12. Sidney O’Brien 1:07.68, 17. Grace Sapp 1:10.87, 18. Kylie Kahl 1:11.09, 20. Emma Mitchell 1:12.71
14. Rachel Kuntz 1:19.38