Liberty, Hazen swimmers compete at state
December 6, 2012
Liberty takes eighth
After coming into the 3A state championship ranked 12th, the Liberty High School girls swim team racked up four top-eight finishes to take eighth place overall with 98 team points.
With all of those points having been earned by underclassmen, coach Kris Daughters is already excited for next year.
“We are looking forward to the next couple of years. We should have strong teams,” she said after the meet. “The main state team is going to stay intact for the next two years.”
Daughters attributes a lot of the Liberty Patriots’ rise from their 12th-place ranking to an eighth-place finish to two freshmen: Ellie Hohensinner and Lauryn Hepp. Hohensinner finished the 500 freestyle with a time of 5 minutes, 18.88 seconds.
“It was really, really nice to see her drop that seven and half seconds in the 500 yesterday to make the top eight,” Daughters said. “When you are making the top eight as a freshman, that’s a pretty big deal. It means you are one of the top swimmers in the state. I think it gives you some confidence and excitement for the next three years.”
Hepp also had a lot to be excited about. Her preliminary time of 59.89 made her the only freshman in the top eight finals for the 100 backstroke. With a final time of 1:00.52, she finished in eighth place.
“Her confidence has just grown and grown and grown,” Daughters said. “Believe me, I did not expect her to go under a minute in the backstroke yesterday. When she did that, I was probably more surprised than she was … it was amazing.”
Hohensinner and Hepp, along with Mackenna Briggs and Cecilia Nelson, also swam as members of Liberty’s state 200 medley and 400 freestyle relay teams. With a time of 1:54.47, the Patriots took seventh in the 200 medley relay. The girls came back later to take ninth in the 400 free relay with a time of 3:44.63.
Briggs, a sophomore who painted her nails in Liberty colors blue, green and silver, earned the team’s top state finish when she took third in the 500 freestyle with a time personal best of 24.2.
“It’s just an awesome feeling,” she said after accepting her state medal. “It’s just all the work that you do pays off when you go up there.”
Hazen places 14th
At last year’s 3A state championships Hazen took home eighth place, but this year’s 14th-place finish is not a disappointment, said Hazen coach Rick Wertman, considering the amount of talent the Highlanders lost after last year.
“I thought we had an exceptional season,” Wertman said. “We were eighth a year ago, but we lost a top-eight diver and we lost a top-eight swimmer. So, losing that, I was ecstatic at the way we swam.”
Junior Talisa Wibmer swam in the consolation finals of the 100 freestyle and the 100 backstroke, placing ninth in both races.
Sophomore Kourtney Brunings swam in the consolation finals of the 200 individual medley and the 100 breaststroke.
Hazen relay teams for the 200 medley and the 400 freestyle also swam in the consolation finals.
Wertman said he was particularly proud of outgoing senior Amy LeBar’s performance at the meet. LeBar swam as a member of the relay teams and in the consolation finals of the 100 freestyle.
“This is her senior campaign and she swam as well or better than I had hoped for to finish off her career,” he said.
The future should be a bright one for the Hazen girls swim team, Wertman said. Wibmer and Brunings are slated to return next year and freshman Kristin LeBar and Clarissa Mitchell both played breakout roles for the team.
“We had two young ladies, two young freshmen come in and immediately help us in Kristin LeBar and Clarissa Mitchell,” he said.