Rhyan White leads Cottonwood swimmers into state, finishes with four medals
The Cottonwood Colts ladies pose with their team 2nd place trophy they earned at the 2017 5A State Swimming Championships. (Ron Lockwood/Cottonwood High swim team)
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For Rhyan White, winning two events in last year's Utah 5A State Swimming Championships wasn't enough. Now the junior from Cottonwood High wants more. Lots more.
On Feb. 9-10 at the Richards Building Natatorium at BYU, winning more championships represented more than just an opportunity to hang more gold around her neck. At this state meet, competing gave her a chance to do something for her teammates as well as herself.
Already the owner of two state records, White didn't settle for just the 200-yard individual medley title and a runner-up finish in the 200-yard freestyle the first day at state Feb. 9.
“She's great. I don't know how much more I could ask for from her,” said Cottonwood head coach Ron Lockwood.
How unselfish is White as a swimmer and a person and how determined was she to eclipse her previous medal haul? Despite being in what Lockwood said was “a different mindset” going into this state tournament —in that White's in the midst of preparing for a serious run at the upcoming regional and national meets and is still getting into tip-top physical condition—she still did what she needed to get the team scoring points.
Despite needing an extra arm's length to overcome a significant length advantage from Brighton's Rachel Butler, White still won the 200-yard individual medley Feb. 9 by two-hundredths of a second. It was her first state title in the event, according to Lockwood. White also jumped back into the pool and led her team to silver in the 200-yard freestyle relay, finishing just .70 of a second behind their region nemesis Brighton.
The next day White defended her 100-yard backstroke crown, beating her nearest competitor by almost four seconds with a time of 53.79—not far off her state record time of 53.45 that she set last year. Then White still had enough in the tank to help her teammates win a silver medal in the 400-yard freestyle relay to wrap up another successful state run.
“She raced like hell and put us in a place to win those and work together toward a team goal,” said Lockwood, who also happens to coach her and many of her teammates on a club team. “We had to make a little sacrifice, but she was great about it. And it set us up nicely for those (regional and national) meets later this spring.”
All told, of the four races White entered, she came home with at least a silver medal in each. Her total medal haul in Provo was two individual golds to go with two team silvers.
Other girls swimmers standing out for the Colts were freshman sensation Emma Walker, who collected three silvers, one each in the 500-yard freestyle, the 100-yard breaststroke and the 400-yard freestyle relay, as well as junior Katelyn Price, who had a silver and bronze apiece.
As for the boys swimmers, they weren't chopped liver at the state tournament, either. Living up to his name, sophomore Blayze Kimble torched the field for gold in the 200-yard individual medley. His record time of 1:55.48 put him nearly two seconds ahead of his nearest competitor. Kimble then tacked on a silver and bronze on the second day.
Lockwood said the sky is the limit for Kimble, whose mother swam at Kearns years ago. “With all that raw talent, in a couple years he could be something very special,” Lockwood said. Originally from Indiana, some family issues brought Kimble and his mom back to Utah.
“He's still really young and still a little immature to the sport and he's still learning how to train, but you can see he's got limitless potential,” Lockwood said.
Not to be outdone by his teammates, however, junior Christian Simon played “Simon Says” with a star-studded field in the 50-yard freestyle, touching the line first in 21.45 to win gold. Simon's story was a nice come-from-behind one as well, because as Lockwood said, his talent also runs in the family.
“His older brother won the 200 IM and 100 breast here as a senior, and after a few tough swims last year Christian got himself refocused, so it's been really fun to see him grow,” Lockwood said. “He's always knee deep in his books and I have a ton of respect for him and his life.”
On the second day, Simon went on to grab another gold medal in the 100-yard freestyle—then won silver and bronze medals along with his teammates in the relays. It was a crazy yet wonderful state tournament for the Colts, who with all this young talent has a bright future ahead of it.
“This year we thought we had an outside shot,” said Lockwood. “Obviously, we came up a little short this year. But we're excited. We've laid the groundwork to have a great year next year.”