There are a lot of things the town of Salida does very well. The town as a whole is very visitor friendly with a versatile atmosphere that almost anyone can enjoy.
When Colorado residents talk about heading west to that region of the state, it's mostly associated with a trip to the Monarch ski area. But inside the walls of the high school, a group of athletes doesn't care about skiing.
The girls swim team cares about making history in the pool and there is a real feeling that they are on the verge of doing just that.
"This group of girls came in with a lot of focus and we had a couple of freshmen come in that are very strong, that have been training in our summer program," coach Wendy Gorie said. "We do not have a year-round program in Salida. We only have a summer league program, which is very unusual."
Nevertheless, this team is looking every bit the part of a state contender. The Spartans came in at No. 1 in the Class 3A girls swim rankings this week and they have the results to back it up. The 200-yard medley relay team has the best time in the class and is hoping they can open the state meet up with a win in the event to set the tone for what they want to accomplish.
"It's a little intimidating because we've never been seeded first by that much ever," junior Hannah Rhude said. "So it's a little intimidating but it's really exciting to see how we stack up to everyone and how our hard work has been paying off."
History was made for the team a year ago when senior Elise Mishmash claimed gold in the 100 freestyle. That was the very first indication that something special was coming together in the small town tucked in near the collegiate peaks.
"The state championship in the 100 freestyle," Gorie said. "That is the glamour event of swimming."
So if she can do it, other members of the team can put their own mark on the state meet next month at the VMAC.
Mishmash already has the top time in the state for 3A, but just over a second and a half behind her is Lily Lengerich, who also occupies a spot on the medley relay team.
Drawing on Mishmash's experience from last year, the Spartans are ready to get on the big stage and do something special for their school. And they want to do it together.
"We're here to bring it this year and we've never had this kind of intensity before," Lenderich said. "We're just really ready to take that to state."
The Spartans look strong at the top of their lineup, but they'll have plenty of work to do to hold off defending champion Evergreen as well as Pueblo County.
Mishmash certainly has ambitions of repeating in the 100 freestyle and adding a 100 breaststroke title to her name. Her one minute, 10.03 seconds in that event is the second-best time in 3A this year.
Regardless of how she fares in her individual events, her focus is not to get these wins for herself. She wants them for her teammates so together they can do something special for their school.
"I think that that is actually a big motivator," Mishmash said. I think it's really special to do something super awesome in your school history as a team, not so much as an individual. So I really think that that's a big drive for us."