Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Jocelyn Rowley

Niwot cruises to Northern League title


February 7, 2019

Senior Hanna Luo swims in the A final of the 100 butterfly at the Northern League Championships on Feb. 2. Luo won the race with a time of 57.68 seconds, a personal record.

With arch rival Silver Creek exiled to the newly formed Longs Peak League, Niwot’s commanding win at the 2019 Northern League Championships on Feb. 2 may not have been very dramatic, but that didn’t make it any less sweet for Cougar head coach Sarah Stamp.

“This is our first time winning conference since I’ve been coaching, which is 10 years, so it’s super exciting,” she said afterwards. “We’ve come in second lots of years, but not first, so I’m super thrilled that we came out on top.”

Niwot swimmers outpaced their competition from the get go at Loveland’s Mountain View Aquatic Center, and by the end of the preliminary round on Friday, Feb. 1, it was hard to see a path to the title for anyone but the Cougars. Indeed, when racing ended on Saturday, Niwot stood atop the team standings with a remarkable 551 points, 85 ahead of closest competitor Centaurus (466).

“We really dominated today; across the board, we had just amazing times, just amazing swims,” Stamp said.

Perhaps the most amazing was standout Abbie Shaw’s record-breaking turn in the 100 backstroke, which she won with a time of 56.73 seconds, beating the old record of 58.20 set in 2014. She also had the winning time in the 100 freestyle (54.03, a season-best), and was on the winning 200 medley (1:51.43) and 400 freestyle (3:39.59) relay teams, a performance her coach called “phenomenal.”

“I didn’t rest at all going into this weekend, so going out there and going almost my best time was really exciting,” the junior said. “It gives me a lot of confidence going into next week.”

In all, Niwot swimmers won nine of the meet’s 12 events, falling short in only the 50 and 500 freestyle races and diving. Joining Shaw with multiple conference titles on the day was freshman Mary Codevilla, who took first in the 100 breaststroke (1:06.78) and 200 freestyle (1:54.52), and was with Shaw on the winning relays.

Senior Hanna Luo also picked up two individual and two relay titles for Niwot, and set two personal records along the way. In the 200 individual medley, she took nearly five seconds off her preliminary time to win in 2:11.70, then took three seconds off her prelim round for an unexpected win in the 100 butterfly (57.68).

“My PR was a 59 and I really wanted to get into that 57 so I just busted it out, and told myself, ‘I can do this,’ and I did it.”

Senior Hanna Luo (left) and sophomore Emiley Yie notice their identical finishing times of 2:11.70 after the 200 individual medley at the Northern League Championships on Feb. 2.

Elsewhere, sophomore Emiley Yie tied Luo for first in the 200 IM and was also on the 200 and 400 freestyle relays. Seniors Kristi Vu and Ella Thramann took second (25.95) and third (26.13) in the 50 freestyle (25.95), while senior Claire Jepson took second behind Shaw in the 100 butterfly (1:02.62). Freshman Grace Shaw, Abbie’s sister, finished second overall in the 500 freestyle (5:19.80), and sophomore Sophie Gaspar was second in the 100 butterfly (1:03.05).

Both Luo and Shaw are excited about the upcoming Class 4A state championships, which begin on Thursday, Feb. 7 at the VMAC in Thornton, and conclude on Friday, Feb. 8. Last year, the Cougars finished fifth overall, and this year’s team seems poised for an even stronger performance.

“We’re really solid this year,” the senior said. “We’re pretty stacked with Mary, Abbie, Emiley and all of us, so we’re trying to aim for first in state.”

Stamp wouldn’t be that specific in her prediction, but she did say she is happy with the contingent of qualifiers heading to next weekend’s state championship and expects them to fulfill her high expectations. “Looking towards next week is exciting, and we’ll see what they can pull off.”


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