Missy Franklin agonized over whether or not to swim her senior season for Regis Jesuit, but in the end the Olympic multi-gold medalist went with her heart and swam in two dual meets and last weekend’s Class 5A championships.
“If I had to do it a hundred times over, I’d do it again,’’ Franklin said. “I’m so, so happy that I made that decision.’’
So are her Regis teammates. Franklin notched lopsided individual wins in “off’’ events for her - a national high school record the 200-yard individual medley and a state record in the 500 freestyle - and anchored two winning relay teams to lead the Raiders to their second state title in three years.
“I couldn’t think of a better way to end my high school career,’’ said Franklin, hoarse from cheering on and the title celebration with her teammates. “Just being able to swim with a Regis cap on my head, that’s what I’m going to remember the most.’’
Franklin finished her career with eight individual titles (three in the 100 backstroke, two in the 50 and one in the 200 in addition to the IM and 500) and state records in the backstroke, IM and 50, 100, 200 and 500 freestyles. She capped her career by breaking records set last year by Cherry Creek’s Bonnie Brandon in the IM and 500, but insisted swimming those two events “was never about the records.’’
Franklin began her final prep meet by winning the IM in 1:56.85 (she set a state record of 1:58.22 in the prelims), besting runner-up Brooke Hansen of Loveland by almost 5 ½ seconds. She then broke Brandon’s 500 record with a time of 4:41.72, her 13.26-second victory over Boulder’s Amanda Richey sending Regis into first place past defending team champion Fossil Ridge, a lead it never relinquished.
Franklin anchored Regis’ victorious 200 freestyle relay, then held off Fossil Ridge senior Rhianna Williams, who had repeated in the 50 (23.02) and 100 (49.90) freestyles, on the final leg of the 400 freestyle relay.
The Raiders, who were third in 2012, won with 287 points to Fossil Ridge’s 243. Fairview was third with 181, and Arapahoe and Cherry Creek tied for fourth with 167.
Despite Franklin’s dominance, the Raiders were far from a one-girl show. They placed seven swimmers in both the finals and consolation finals, with freshman Lindsay Painton going third in the backstroke (57.13) and fifth in the 100 (52.06). Sophomore Taylor Wilson was fourth in the 50 (24.24) and ninth in the 100 (53.01) and swam on both winning relays. Marielle Renehan took fifth in the 100 breaststroke (1:06.44) and Delaney Lanker was eighth in the butterfly (57.42), and divers Austin Mckensi (447.45 points) and Kellyn Toole (417.55) placed fourth and eighth.
Regis’ 200 medley relay (without Franklin) team was second to Fossil Ridge. The Raiders led going into the final leg, but Williams outkicked freshman Amy Lenderink.
“Painton for a freshman was awesome,’’ said Regis coach Nick Frasiersmith. “And I can’t say enough about our divers. That was the only event we had two in the top eight.’’
“The entire team swam well,’’ Frasiersmith added. “I’m a true believer that championships are made by what you do in the prelims. We did that, and our relays really stepped up. From third to first is a wonderful turnaround.’’
Cherry Creek, which last won the team title in 2010 - its last in a streak of six straight and 13 of 16 - qualified for five individual finals but did not place higher than sixth. Senior Elaine Powell was sixth in the 50 (24.47) and eighth in the 100 (53.4). Colleen Wixted, another senior, was seventh in the 200 (1:53.67) and butterfly (57.10).
Led by freestylers Ella Moynihan, Emily Mayo and Gabrielle Morley, the Arapahoe Warriors tied Centennial League rival Cherry Creek for fourth place.
Moynihan, a sophomore, and Mayo, a senior, were the pacesetters. Moynihan was second in both the 100- and 200-yard freestyles, while Mayo took fourth in both the 200 and 500. Morley didn’t reach the finals in either of her two events, but placed ninth in the 500 and 16th in the 200.
Success wasn’t unexpected for Moynihan and Mayo. Moynihan was third in both of her events in 2012 and was seeded first in the 200 and second in the 100 entering the meet. Moya was second in the 200 to Franklin and third in the in the 500.
Still, “I’m super happy,’’ Moynihan said after she moved up a spot in each event. “Both races felt amazing. I couldn’t pick one that was better, and they both were personal bests.’’
Erin Metzger-Seymour edged Moynihan in the 200, the Ralston Valley junior finishing in 1:49.92 to Moynihan’s 1:50.30. Mayo took fourth in 1:51.76 behind Centennial League rival Madison Dirks of Grandview (1:51.56).
“I tried to go out as fast as I could and hold on,’’ Moynihan said. “Chasing down Erin helps.’’
Moynihan lost to Fossil Ridge’s Rhianna Williams, a senior who defended her titles in the 50 and 100. Williams posted a 49.90 to Moynihan’s 51.32. ThunderRidge sophomore Annie Ochitwa, who was second in the 50 and 100 last year, settled for third in the 100 (51.72). Ochitwa again took second in the 50 in 23.47 to Williams’ 23.47.
Moynihan lowered her school records in both events (she set Centennial League marks the previous week) “and went faster this weekend,’’ said Arapahoe coach Mike Richmond. Her times are All-America.
Swimming against Franklin in the 500, Mayo posted a 5:01.67, a bit off her prelims time of 4:57.32, which made her the first Arapahoe girl to break 5 minutes. The Villanova-bound Mayo also swam the second leg on the Warriors’ third-place 400 freestyle relay team, which beat Cherry Creek with a school record of 3:31.34 and pushed Arapahoe into the tie with the Bruins.
Morley placed at state for the first time with times of 1:58.46 in the 200 and 5:10.57 in the 500, which would have put her seventh in the finals heat. Arapahoe also got a sixth place from senior Miranda Reetz, the Centennial League champion, in the breaststroke (1:06.77) as well as 15th in the 200 individual medley (2:11.72). Junior Jordan Rowe was 12th in the 500 (5:13.49) and Erin Chilton was 14th in diving (354.0 points).
Richmond said Arapahoe’s goal is “certainly a top five’’ at state, but he wasn’t sure after the Warriors finished eighth in the Colorado Coaches Invitational in mid-December. “There are a lot of good teams, so how can you say you’re not pleased with (a tie for fourth),’’ Richmond said.