Near the end of every summer, Cortez Leopard Sharks swimmers compete in the Colorado Seasonal State Championship meet. Generally speaking, the team produces decent results.
This year however, the Leopard Sharks took things to a whole new level, hosting the Seasonal State Championship, Aug. 1-3, finishing third overall in the large-team division and garnering several individual victories and awards.
A total of 268 swimmers competed in this year’s championship, which was held at the Cortez Municipal Pool.
“People were thrilled to come to this part of the state and see its beauty,” said Leopard Sharks head coach Kevin Keterrer. “There were several families that wanted to express how impressed they were with the Cortez community.”
Among the Leopard Sharks swimmers turning in winning performances was 14-year-old Caisey Duran, who finished first in the 200-meter backstroke with a meet record time of 2:51.42, first in the 200-meter breaststroke (3:23.61), first in the 200-meter individual medley (2:59.01) and first in the 100-meter backstroke (1:19.35).
As a result of her five first-place finishes, Duran won the “high point award” in the girls 13-14 age division, becoming the first Leopard Sharks swimmer to win the award in several years.
“I’ve been working really hard,” said Duran. “I just wanted to put all my effort into this meet so that my hard work would pay off. I didn’t expect to win (the “high point award), but (winning it) is an amazing feeling.”
Also swimming well for the Leopard Sharks, 11-year-old Trent Bagge finished first in the 200-meter freestyle (2:34.94) and first in the 400-meter freestyle (5:43.53) Fifteen-year-old Bailey Duran finished first in the 100-meter breaststroke (1:32.15) and first in the 200-meter breaststroke (3:15.68).
Other Leopard Sharks cracking the top-three in at least one individual event included Delta Suckla, David Crumpacker, Victoria Duran, Jenna Barner and Tyler Cutrone.
“Our kids performed very well,” said Leopard Sharks head coach Keterrer. “They swam with determination and spirit. Everybody was energized.”
As a team, the Leopard Sharks finished third overall in the large-team division behind the Valley Dolphins Swim Club, a team from Colorado Springs, and the Gunnison Stingrays.
Adding to the excitement, Keterrer was voted Colorado Seasonal Club Coach of the Year for the first time in his coaching career.
“I was absolutely shocked,” said Keterrer. “There are so many excellent coaches from around the state, but appreciate the recognition.”
With their summer season now complete, the Leopard Sharks will take a short respite before resuming practice in early September.
“After a short break, we’re going to get back in and focus on improving our skills,” said Keterrer.