The countdown has started and the Camels girls swimming and diving team likes the first numbers they’ve notched on the scoreboard so far: 1.
The Camels topped the Gillette Relays on Friday to open the season, and followed that with another impressive win Saturday in the Gillette Penthalon. Both events took place at their home pool, the Aquatic Center.
The Camels tallied 280 points and defeated Laramie by 31 points in the relays, in which every event swam, fittingly enough, was a relay.
On Saturday in the pentathlon, the Camels totaled 163 points and downed the next closest team, Cheyenne East, by 53 points. The varsity swimmers competed in five different 100-yard events and the girls with the quickest cumulative time won.
The Camels placed six swimmers in the top 20, using their depth to win the team title.
Eight Camels also qualified for the state Class 4A championships in the same pool at the end of the season.
“To have (eight) total girls qualify for the state tournament this early was nice,” coach Josh Bott said.
Sophomore Anne Waldum and freshman Riley Pilon led the way, qualifying for state in all five events Saturday, including the 100-yard freestyle, 100 backstroke, 100 breaststroke, 100 butterfly and 50 freestyle.
Waldum, who prefers the breaststroke over her other qualifying events, was pleased with how Gillette swam both days. The sophomore paced the Camels by placing sixth overall with a time of 4:55.70. Iliana Jones, a Casper Kelly Walsh sophomore, won the individual title with a time about 22 seconds faster.
“We all did really good,” Waldum said. “We were all cheering for each other and supporting each other.”
Pilon, a freshman who finished second to Waldum in their breaststroke heat, was fifth overall and nipped Waldum by five-tenths of a second in cumulative time. Pilon could tell that the pool work she did over the summer paid off.
“We are ready to keep competing and working toward that state title,” she said.
The two talented underclassmen were joined by six of their teammates in qualifying for state.
Junior Averyonna Kimery qualified for three events and barely missed out on the fourth. Kimery qualified in the 100 backstroke, 100 freestyle and the 100 butterfly. In the 50 freestyle, Kimmery needed a qualifying time of 28.25. She was close, five-tenths of second shy at 28.71.
“I think we did good,” Kimery said. “I think we did a lot better than we thought we would, a lot of us weren’t quite sure where we were in terms of placing.”
Emily Jewell joined her classmate Kimery as a three-event qualifier. She did so in the 100 breaststroke, 100 butterfly and the 100 freestyle.
Freshman Taylor Schiefelbein also qualified for three events, the 100 backstroke, 100 butterfly and the 100 freestyle.
Senior Sage Riss qualified in two events, the 100 freestyle and the 100 butterfly.
Sophomore Sunshine Roberts qualified for state in the 100 freestyle.
With each team allowed just four swimmers in each individual event at state, and six already qualified in the 100 freestyle, it’s obvious every second will count for the Camels this season.
Junior Megan Volk didn’t take much time in making a reservation for state too.
The diver earned a six-dive score of 183.60 points to place fourth in the diving on Saturday.
“I think I did really good,” Volk said. “Considering I qualified at the second meet that you could qualify at, I’m pretty proud of myself. I didn’t think I would qualify before the meet started.”
Diving coach Adam Miller was impressed with the early success.
“It was nice, we could have done a few things better, but it was the first full meet,” Miller said. “To get Megan qualified was a good way to start.”
Volk and Ryleigh Kobbe of Laramie battled back and forth, and both ultimately qualified for state.
“Ryleigh is a pretty strong diver,” Miller said. “It’s hard to compete with her, but it was nice to have Megan there with her battling.”
The Camels also had two junior divers, Kassidy Willbanks and Caitlyn Faucett come up just short of qualifying. Willbanks and Faucett scored a 156.40 and a 150.80 points respectively. Volk thinks its just a matter of time before they score 165 points or better to qualify too.
“They were really close and if they nail their dives, they should be fine,” she said.
On Friday, the Camels won the team title in the relays, an effort highlighted by the Camels A freshman team win in the 200 freestyle relay. The team of Schiefelbein, Natalie O’Dell, Rachael Steiger and Pilon finished nine seconds ahead of the other teams.
It was an accomplishment that stood out for Bott.
“They swam great,” he said. “They finished nine seconds ahead of the rest of the freshman teams, which was impressive.”
Gillette will see if it can keep the wave going Thursday, when they host Buffalo in a dual at 5 p.m. in the Aquatic Center.