For the Pine Creek boys swim team, frustration has been simmering for nearly a year.
By all accounts, the Eagles turned in a solid performance at the 2010 Class 5A state meet. Pine Creek advanced one swimmer into a state final heat, sent another into a consolation heat, and ultimately finished 15th among the 34 clubs in the team standings.
And yet, things could have been so much sweeter for the Eagles. Pine Creek posted two 17th-place finishes — only the top 16 finishers earn points at the state meet — and was disqualified from the consolation finals of the 400 freestyle relay.
Even with the minimum of four extra points the team would have earned with three 16th-place finishes in those events, Pine Creek would have been knocking on the door of 13th-place in the team race. With three relays and four individual swimmers having already qualified for this year’s state meet, the Eagles hope to break down that door and vent their long-simmering frustration when the finals start May 20 in Fort Collins.
“In the relays this year, I really want us to go top eight,” Pine Creek coach Steve Owsley said. “I think our medley relay is very good this year. Hopefully we’ll have a good showing on the podium.”
Three holdovers from last year’s state team already have qualified in multiple events this season, including seniors Forrest Gaskill, Jim Bossert and Justin Holmes, the latter of whom placed seventh in the breaststroke last year as the Eagles’ only individual finalist.
Joining that trio is freshman John Frank, who has made an immediate impact for the Eagles, while qualifying for his first state meet in the individual medley, the butterfly and the backstroke.
Also on the cusp of qualifying is sophomore Josh Smith in the 50 freestyle and junior Sean O’Connor in the backstroke and the 50 freestyle. Owsley also has noted the rapid improvement of sophomore diver Shane Guerin, who is one more qualifying meet away from state after a strong performance this past week against Air Academy.
Aiding the Eagles’ push toward an improved performance at state has been a demanding schedule that has honed the club’s competitive edge. Pine Creek placed second out of 15 programs, trailing only Fossil Ridge on Saturday at the Mountain Range Invitational, and the Eagles complete their dual meet schedule this week with showdowns against Rampart and Cheyenne Mountain.
“We have had a tough dual meet schedule,” Owsley said. “We’ll go hard through (this) week, then give them a little down time before the league meet. I’m anxious to see how they do after the rest. At league, hopefully we can get our middle-tier guys in, and our state guys will be solely focused on state.
“If you don’t keep swimming good races to the end, it could be a tough thing when you get to state. You can’t back off and take it easy.”