By Jocelyn Rowley 

Cougars take 9th at state; Barkow caps career with 4th top-10 finish


February 16, 2017

Photo by Ed Navarro Niwot diver Maddie Barkow, shown here in a tuck position at regionals, finished third at state.

The resurgent Niwot girls swim team capped off an exciting regular season with a ninth-place finish at the Class 4A state championships last weekend, the first top-10 finish since 2014. Senior diver Maddie Barkow wrapped-up her remarkable career with a third-place finish, while freshman Payten Irwin nabbed two top-five finishes on the day, in the 100 butterfly and 200 freestyle relay. Niwot brought back finalists to eight of the meet’s twelve events, including two of the three relays.

For head coach Sarah Stamp, it was a “great weekend,” even if the team did fall just a half second short of one of its goals: finalists in all three relays.

“To be second alternate with that third relay [200 medley] was a lot closer than we were last year,” she said. “So it’s not a disappointment by any stretch.”

Niwot started the weekend strong, qualifying for the A finals (top 8 prelim times) in five events (50 freestyle, 100 backstroke, 200 freestyle relay, 100 backstroke, 400 freestyle relay) and the consolation heat in two others during the preliminaries. The 200 medley relay team (Claire Jepson, Camryn Kenkel, Hanna Luo, and Kristi Vu) came just shy of booking a ninth finals appearance for the Cougars, finishing in 1:58:06, just .54 seconds behind 16th place Ponderosa (1:57.52).

“Friday sets the tone for Saturday,”Stamp said. “Being able to get both of the freshmen back in their events, Chase [Balman] back in her event, and both of those relays seeded eighth was certainly our hope, and being able to do so in reality was a pleasant surprise.”

On Saturday, the Cougars picked up where they left off. Barkow held onto second place through the early diving rounds, but dropped to third when she slipped on the first of her finals dives, scoring just 26.5. Despite solid scores on her last two final dives, she was unable to overcome Kyriana Chambo (Highlands Ranch), and ultimately finished third on the day, with 448.35 points.

“I think she was a little disappointed,” said Stamp. “She placed third her freshman and sophomore years, and I think she was a little disappointed not to outdo that.”

Nonetheless, agreed Stamp, four consecutive top-10 finishes at state is “absolutely a tremendous accomplishment.”

Back in the lanes, Irwin topped off her record-setting rookie season with an impressive debut at the state meet. She was the only freshman to make the finals in the 100 butterfly, where her time of 57.44 was good for fourth overall. She took ninth in the 200 individual medley, and swam on the 200 freestyle relay team (with Balman, Shaw and Vu) that took fifth overall (1:40.96), and the 400 freestyle relay (Balman, Luo, Shaw) that took sixth (3:40.16).

Meanwhile, Shaw capped off an impressive rookie season of her own. In addition to top-10 finishes in the relays, Shaw also came away with an eighth-place overall finish in the 100 backstroke (58.93), and a 13th-place finish in the 100 yard freestyle.

It was a bittersweet day for the team’s seniors, including Barkow and Balman, who were competing in their last high school meets. Balman proved her regular season comeback from a shoulder injury was no fluke, by finishing 16th overall in the 50 freestyle. Stamp said Balman’s plans for continuing her swim career are still up in the air, but her strong senior season “certainly put her back on the radar” for collegiate opportunities.

Elsewhere, junior Amalia Luthens placed 24th in the preliminary rounds of the 500 freestyle (5:36.69) and 100 backstroke (1:03.01). Jepson was 31st in the 100 backstroke (1:04.40), while Kenkel, another graduating senior, was 31st in the 100 breaststroke (1:14.85).

Though it’s a bit early to look ahead, Stamp knows it will be a challenge to replace the talent she will lose to graduation, though she is excited by her emerging young core (Irwin, Shaw, Vu, Luo).

“We’re losing a large senior class,” she admitted. “That will definitely make a dent on the team.”

For now, though, Stamp and her team are going to enjoy their return to the Class 4A top 10.

“It was such a great two days of competition,” Stamp said. “I’m still processing this weekend and how great they did.”

Class 4A State Meet, Feb. 10-11, Edora Pool/Ice Center (EPIC), Ft. Collins

Team Scores — Cheyenne Mountain 308, Valor Christian 276, Evergreen 230, Heritage 227, Rampart 169, Windsor 125, Silver Creek 123, Highlands Ranch 111, Niwot 110, Loveland 103 Fort Collins 94, Thompson Valley 75.5, Air Academy 67, Pine Creek 55, George Washington 51, Pueblo South 39, Montrose 29, Greeley West 28, Liberty 28, Mullen 27, Standley Lake 16.5, Coronado 12, Pueblo West 7, Littleton 6, Skyline 5, Ponderosa 3

200 medley relay — 1. Cheyenne Mountain 1:44.94; 2. Valor Christian, 1:45.03; 3. Heritage, 1:45.25;

200 freestyle — 1. Lainee Jones, Pueblo South, 1:50.58; 2. Maggie Tibbitt, Cheyenne Mountain, 1:52.51; 3. Kate McDonald, Evergreen, 1:53.43;

200 IM — 1. Morgan Friesen, Windsor, 2:06.55; 2. Ella Kirschke, Valor Christian, 2:06.92; 3. Catriona Clarke, Rampart, 2:09.30; 9. Payten Irwin, Niwot, 2:11.47.

50 freestyle — 1. Lindsay Stenstrom, Valor Christian, 23:98; 2. Cat Wright, Cheyenne Mountain, 24.07; 3. Allana Clarke, Rampart, 24:39; 16. Chase Balman, Niwot, 25.64.

Diving — 1. Izzi Mroz, Valor Christian, 484.65; 2. Kyriana Chambo, Highlands Ranch, 450.80; 3. Madison Barkow, Niwot, 448.35;

100 butterfly — 1. Cat Wright, Cheyenne Mountain, 55.45; 2. Madison Hoehn, Valor Christian, 56.42; 3. Allana Clark, Rampart, 57.19; 4. Payten Irwin, Niwot, 57.44

100 freestyle — 1. Kylie Andrews, Heritage, 50.59; 2. Lainee Jones, Pueblo South, 51.12; 3. Audrey Reimer, Fort Collins, 51.95; 13. Abigail Shaw, Niwot, 55.02.

500 freestyle — 1. Erin Lang, Loveland, 4:59.26; 2. Kate McDonald, Evergreen, 5:04.11; 3. Abbey Owenby, Valor Christian, 5:07.11.

200 free relay — 1. Cheyenne Mountain 1:38.50; 2. Heritage, 1:39.43; 3. Rampart, 1:40.96; 5. Niwot (Balman, Shaw, Vu, Irwin), 1:40.96.

100 backstroke — 1. Kylie Andrews, Heritage, 55.67; 2. Audrey Reimer, Fort Collins, 55.74; 3. Erin Lang, Loveland, 57.11; 8. Abigail Shaw, Niwot, 58.93.

100 breaststroke — 1. Morgan Friesen, Windsor, 1:03.72; 2. Aleks Olesiak, Air Academy, 1:03.99; 3. Emma Spotts, Heritage, 1:04.28;

400 free relay — 1. Valor Christian 3:31.14; 2. Heritage, 3:33.47; 3. Evergreen, 3:33.50; 6. Niwot (Balman, Hanna Luo, Shaw, Irwin), 3:40.16.


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