Aspen High School girls swim team wins 3A state championship
Prior to the weekend’s Class 3A state meet in Thornton, Aspen High School girls swim coach Kathleen Callahan admitted she thought the Skiers were a long shot to win the team title — considering its small numbers — and despite entering as the top-ranked team in the classification.
And after only four of its eight state swimmers made it through prelims Friday to qualify for Saturday’s finals inside the Veterans Memorial Aquatics Center, those fears seemed well founded. As it turned out, however, the quality of those four swimmers far outweighed the team’s shortcomings in quantity.
“It’s probably unheard of in state championships to have only four girls swim, which means we had no depth,” Callahan said. “We won most of our events, or placed very high, and it just speaks to the strength of those four girls.”
Led by the strong individual performances of Kennidy Quist and Davy Brown, the Skiers finished with 209 points to hold off runner-up St. Mary’s Academy (187 points) and third-place Glenwood Springs (173 points) to win the 3A state title, a first for AHS swimming.
This season was the first in Colorado high school history there had been a 3A classification for girls swimming.
“It’s incredibly exciting with such a small team to come to the first ever 3A states and to take home a state title,” Quist said. “It means a lot, not only to me, but I know my teammates as well, seeing how small we are and where we come from.”
Quist, a senior who will swim for Harvard University next season, was the 4A state runner-up in the 50 and 100 freestyle events as a junior. About the only thing missing from her impressive high school career was that elusive state title, and it was now or never for the team’s star on Saturday.
She came through, winning the 50-yard freestyle by nearly a second over La Junta’s Savannah Tice, and again edged Tice in the 100-yard freestyle, this time by nearly two seconds.
“Even though I was sick these last couple of weeks, I knew my coach had prepared me well,” Quist said. “I was just going to go out and have fun and that’s exactly what I did and it ended up the way I would have hoped it would.”
Quist’s two individual titles were paired with Aspen’s state titles in the 200-yard medley relay and 400-yard freestyle relay, both swam by Quist, Brown, Hannah Freeman and Emily Driscoll.
“It’s such a relief, bless her heart,” Callahan said of Quist finally winning a state title. “She was so close last year, and I was praying and hoping. She is just an amazing person; it’s such a relief that she got that. What a way to finish her high school career.”
With Quist graduating, the future of the AHS swim team seems to be in the hands of Brown, only a sophomore this season. She won her first individual state title Saturday by winning the 100-yard backstroke by more than a second over St. Mary’s Lillianna Brooks. Brown took second in the 200-yard individual medley, won by Glenwood Springs product L.J. Fetzko.
Fetzko, along with many of the AHS swimmers, trains with the Aspen Speedos swim club, coached by Gordon Gerson.
“She’s got so much raw talent. I think she is up and coming. She is the next one to watch for,” Callahan said of Brown. “The girls are ecstatic. They worked so hard. Shout out to Gordon Gerson, because he is their inspiration as a coach. We are just so happy, it’s ridiculous.”
Callahan was named the 3A coach of the year. Also among the eight AHS swimmers who qualified for the state meet were Lelia Arthur, Taylor Pattillo, Abby Easterling and Lilly Easterling.
According to the Colorado High School Activities Association, this is the 19th state title for Aspen High School, seven of which have come in girls skiing.
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This is a program that was happy just to be able to field a four-person team only a few years ago. Now, it’s knocking on the door of a first state championship, and it could come Wednesday on its home course.