THORNTON — The history book for Class 3A swimming not is a long read, but that doesn't mean it's not fun to add chapters to it.
That's exactly what Evergreen did at the Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center on Saturday. Relay teams won their races to start the meet and end the meet and the Cougars ended the night with 372.5 points and, more importantly, their second straight state championship. Aspen was the runner-up with 214 points. (Find the full results here. And the Team Manager file here.)
"It's not easy to win," Evergreen coach Liz Hudd said. "This meet was really faster. Our girls swam faster than they did last year and were lower in places. This was much faster and it was an amazing experience."
The 2019-20 season marked just the fourth season of 3A's existence. The rising numbers of participation prompted the addition of the classification for the 2016-17 winter season. With the fourth championship in program history, Evergreen became the first 3A school to successfully defend the title it had won the year before.
And that was the mission from the very start. After grabbing the top seed in the 200-yard medley relay during Friday's preliminaries, the Cougars matched their prelims pace, finishing in one minute, 51.28 seconds to claim gold.
Then senior Remi Gucker added some instant padding to the team lead. Her 1:56.61 in the 200 freestyle helped the Cougars build up a quick 83 points and take every bit of momentum a team could ask for to start a championship meet. St. Mary's Academy's Sydney Silver won the race at 1:52.06.
"We were on the top of the roller coaster from the start," Gucker said. "They had the team scores posted after the fourth event and we knew we were ahead. I didn't do as well as I wanted in my event, but we had a lot of great swims. We had a lot of personal bests."
She later added a third-place finish in the 500 freestyle with a time of 5:15.71, only adding to a banner performance for herself and her team. Kent Denver's Jolie Kim won the race at 5:08.16.
After taking the top seed in the 50 freestyle last year and falling just short of winning the race, St. Mary's senior Caitlin Cairns wasn't going to be denied gold or a lasting legacy this year. Her 23.09 in the sprint set a 3A state record.
"Both (winning the race and setting the record) felt great," Cairns said. "I was just happy to win again and represent my team."
After Discovery Canyon's Rachel Alexander claimed the diving crown, Cairns jumped right back in the pool for the 100 butterfly and won with a time of 55.27
Other notable wins included Salida's Elise Mishmash in the 100 freestyle, defending the title she won a year ago.
Silver added a win in the 100 backstroke to go with her earlier win in the 200 freestyle and in doing so she set a 3A state record at 54.55.
Delta's Jillian Carlson took the 100 breaststroke at 1:07.09 as the 400 freestyle relay teams prepared for the final event of the day.
Evergreen closed out the meet the way it opened it, by building a solid lead in the race and riding to a time of 3:39.77. That win gave the Cougars another gold medal, but more importantly it also cemented a stellar performance that earned another state championship trophy.
"The girls brought it," Hudd said. "They're competitive and they knew what had to get done."