Rams swimming caps off year as region champs
Sophomore Holden Knight during the 100-yard butterfly at the 4A state championship. Knight took second in the event. (Travis Barton/City Journals)
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While the Highland High School swim team may not have matched the heights of a year ago with state runner-up finishes for the boys and girls teams, finishing in the top 10 isn’t bad for a “rebuilding year.”
The girls team finished seventh in the 4A state championships at Brigham Young University on Feb. 11 while the boys finished in 10th place. On top of that, the girls team won the Region 5 title and the boys finished second.
“There was a lot of good performances at region so I was pretty happy with that,” said head coach Mark Gray a few days before the state meet.
Losing many seniors from the team a year ago, the young Rams had a focus on improvement this year reaching personal goals. Some swimmers entered their first events this year with some even qualifying for state.
“Everyone’s worked really hard, we have a lot of people who started this year and really improved which is awesome, lot of freshmen who made state this year, that’s pretty incredible especially for the boys cause that doesn’t always happen. It’s been a good season,” said senior captain India Phillips.
Phillips capped off her swimming career at Highland with two third-place finishes in the 200- and 500-yard freestyle.
It’s the youth of the team that could promise good omens for the future.
“It’s a young group of kids. I think there’s a lot of progress with the kids. You don’t want to look too far into the future but if they keep progressing we should do well down the road,” Gray said and later added, “Kids are making state. Next year we should be a bit better and the year after that even better. Our ninth-grade boys are making it in and that’s great. It’s a good thing to see.”
Sophomore Holden Knight is one of the younger swimmers with a bright future. Knight took second in the 100-yard butterfly with a personal best 53.55 time and he finished sixth in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 4:59.50.
But for Gray, to focus is always the swimmer’s development, to “see the kids succeed and get their goal.”
“I worry about their self-improvement rather than this place or that place,” Gray said.
He noted one swimmer who had a goal to swim the 100-yard freestyle under a minute and achieved that goal on his last swim.
“That’s a good thing, he’s happy so he’ll be leaving the sport happy,” Gray said.
He added it was great to work with kids with good attitudes like senior captain Connor Peterson.
“Connor is always a happy-go-lucky guy. That’s one thing I’ll miss, cause he’s a senior this year, he’s one of those kids you say something and he goes ‘alright’ and then go off and do it,” Gray said.
Those team bonds were formed between swimmers as well thanks to a team movie night or dinners after swim meets.
“The team’s gotten a lot closer especially in the final month. People were hugging and crying at the end (of region) and that was kinda cool to see, to have an actual team that is friendly and friends,” Phillips said.