Lewis-Palmer girls’ swim coach Alan Arata doesn’t get to see all of the talent Colorado has to offer in the pool.
Sure, he wishes the state meet pitted the “best of the best swimmers” against one another, instead of breaking up the meets into a 5A and 4A classification.
But really, all the fourth-year coach really wanted was a chance to see all the best swimmers in the area at league championships this weekend.
That won’t happen though. The Rangers (ranked 17th in 5A, according to Rob Nasser’s latest girls’ swimming rankings), Cheyenne Mountain (second in 4A) and Air Academy (13th in 4A) will lead the field in the Pikes Peak Athletic Conference Championship held at Cheyenne Mountain High School on Friday and Saturda. Meanwhile, Rampart (13th in 5A) and talented Pine Creek (unranked, 5A) are the two front-runners at the Colorado Springs Metro League Championship held at Rampart High School the same days. Manitou Springs (fourth in 4A) will be the favorite in the Independent School League Championship at Colorado College.
What it means is the best talent around the area will not face one another before the state meets.
Teams like Lewis-Palmer and Rampart won’t get a chance in the pool together this weekend before both schools take their talents to the 5A state meet in two weeks. And individually, juicy matchups like the Indians’ Sydney Buckley and the Mustangs’ Emily Doloff-Holt, both of whom own a top-five time in the 100 breaststroke and 100 butterfly, will only be compared this weekend by their times, not their head-to-head races.
Arata, as do other area coaches, wants change. He said he wants to see the area girls to have the best competition possible — and with the way the leagues are separated in Colorado Springs , it won’t happen.
“Some coaches wouldn’t be happy because if all the schools were in one league down here, the lesser-talented teams wouldn’t get as many points in the meet,” Arata said. “But we can separate it somehow in the standings. The important thing would be to get all the best girls in the area to compete against one another. We have the resources, so why not?
“You get better when you face the best. I think we all want these girls to be pushed and show their best out there.”
For now though, the league meets are as follows:
Pikes Peak Athletic Conference Championship
Prelims: Friday at 3:30 p.m. Finals: Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
Lewis-Palmer and Cheyenne Mountain are the two favorites. They’ll join other PPAC members like Discovery Canyon and Air Academy in the meet, but joining them will also be school invitees like Valor Christian, Coronado, Sierra and Mitchell.
Colorado Springs Metro League Championship
Prelims: 5:15 p.m. Friday, Finals: 2 p.m. Saturday
On the verge of retirement, Rampart coach Pat Burch has a chance to go out on top with supreme talent like Julie Henninger and Jessica Chen in his arsenal. The Rams’ biggest competition, however, will be Pine Creek, which is led by seniors Madison Cooper and Anna Conroy, as well as junior diver Abigail Smith.
Palmer, Fountain-Fort Carson, Doherty and Liberty round out the six-team field.
Independent School League Championship
Prelims: Thursday at 5:15 p.m. Finals: Friday at 12:30 p.m.
Manitou Springs, a 3A school projected to finish in the top five at the 4A state competition, leads a nine-team field that includes area teams St. Mary’s and Fountain Valley.
Final team standings at the league meets have no bearing on qualifying for state.
Brent W. New, The Gazette
Twitter: @brentwnew @gazettepreps