The Grand County High School girls swimming team won its second consecutive state championship on Thursday, Feb. 9, at Brigham Young University in Provo, scoring 244 points to top second-place Emery’s 172 points.
Although the Lady Spartans beat Grand for the region title, coach Brian Pierce said the number of teams at the meet diluted Emery’s numbers advantage, allowing the Lady Red Devils to win the state title.
“At region there are fewer teams, so we knew Emery would win region because they had more swimmers scoring points in more races,” he said.
Grand’s decorated quartet of Seniors Alexa Pierce and River Richards and sophomores London Richards and Mary Kimmerle combined to break a pair of relay state records on Thursday, winning the 200-yard freestyle relay in 1:45.10, almost six seconds ahead of the previous mark. The four also broke the 200-yard medley relay state record, clocking in at 1:56.56, shaving about four seconds off the previous mark. The same four girls hold the state record in the 400-yard freestyle relay as well at 3:54.50, setting the mark in 2016. However, each state participant is allowed to compete in two individual and two relay events.
“They swam amazing,” Brian Pierce said. “They had two great relays.”
In this year’s 400-yard freestyle relay, senior Jayelen Knowles, freshman Jordyn Reidhead, senior Megan Pfnister and junior Brooklin Hugentobler swam to a third-place 4:39.60.
Individually, Alexa Pierce won both of her events, breaking her own state record in the 100-yard butterfly at 1:01.57, and also winning the 200-yard individual medley at 2:17.68. River Richards placed first in the 200-yard freestyle at 2:09.17 and third in the 100-yard freestyle at 57.91, while sister London Richards placed first in the 100-yard breaststroke at 1:15.08 and fourth in the 100-yard butterfly at 1:11.16. Kimmerle tied Alexa Pierce’s state record, placing first in the 50-yard freestyle at 25.55, while also finishing second in the 100-yard backstroke at 1:02.91.
“We lose four seniors this year in Alexa (Pierce), River (Richards), Megan Pfnister and Jayelen (Knowles),” Brian Pierce said. “They all swam great and did whatever was needed for the team. They’ll be missed for sure.”
The Grand girls had several other quality individual performances, including Knowles’ fourth-place efforts in both the 200-yard freestyle (2:24.22) and the 500-yard freestyle (6:40.69), and Hugentobler’s seventh-place performance in the 100-yard freestyle at 1:05.57.
For the boys, sophomore Braxten Pierce turned in a pair of first-place individual performances, setting a state record in the 200-yard freestyle at 1:48.82, and winning the 500-yard freestyle at 5:08.31.
The Red Devil boys had several other quality individual races and did well in relays, placing fourth in both the 200-yard freestyle and 400-yard freestyle relays, and sixth in the 200-yard medley.
Junior Tyler Moreau placed sixth in the 500-yard freestyle (6:01.02); sophomore Corbin Arbon placed seventh in the 100-yard backstroke (1:06.50) and 11th in the 50-yard freestyle (25.47); sophomore Alex Lacy placed eighth in the 100-yard butterfly (1:04.78); senior Sidney Shumway placed ninth in the 100-yard butterfly (1:09.11); senior Jonathan Park placed ninth in the 100-yard freestyle (55.28) and 10th in the 50-yard freestyle (25.30); sophomore Connor Ainge placed eighth in the 500-yard freestyle (6:12.50) and 10th in the 200-yard freestyle (2:10.06); and senior Ben Shafer placed 12th in the 200-yard freestyle (2:14.73).
“We’re looking forward to a good core of boys coming back next year,” Brian Pierce said. “About six really good swimmers are going to anchor the boys team. The experience will help them out a lot.”
Brian Pierce said the Red Devils, both boys and girls, should be proud of the season they had.
“We had our ups and downs with whooping cough and things like that, but overall we had a great season,” he said. “We set 33 personal bests at state. Our goal is always to keep getting better, and the kids have done that.”
Pierce offered his gratitude to the community and local businesses, especially the Moab Recreation and Aquatic Center, for helping and supporting the Red Devils this season.
Red Devils set several state records in championship meet