With the sun shining down and green and black flags hanging above the water, scores of swimmers arrived at the Cortez Municipal Pool this weekend to participate in the Cortez Leopard Sharks Invitational on June 1-3.
According to meet organizers, 125 swimmers between the ages of 5 and 20 competed in this year’s meet, which has long been a favorite of teams from around the state and the Four Corners area due to Cortez’s 50-meter outdoor pool and the amenities that the area has to offer.
Durango Swim Club placed first in the team standings with 2,707 points overall thanks in part to contributions from Cortez resident Victoria Duran, who won multiple races and scored a meet-best 143 points for the Durango club.
Farmington’s Four Corners Aquatic Team placed second with 1,471 points, Telluride placed third with 1,259 points, and the Cortez Leopard Sharks finished fourth with 958 points overall.
Ranking as the top individual point scorer for Cortez was Cody Farias, who competed in the boys’ 13- to 14-year-old division. Farias placed first in the 200-meter freestyle (2:42.48), first in the 100-meter breaststroke (1:33.19), first in the 100-meter backstroke (1:25.49), first in the 100-meter freestyle (1:09.68) and first in the 200-meter backstroke (2:58.66). The 14-year-old Leopard Sharks standout also placed second in the 200-meter individual medley (2:57.67), second in the 50-meter freestyle (32.80) and third in the 400-meter freestyle (5:36.07).
Also taking top honors in multiple events for the Leopard Sharks was Delta Suckla, who competed in the girls’ division for 11- and 12-year-olds. She finished first in the 400-meter freestyle (6:52.20) and first in the 100-meter breaststroke (1:40.18). She also placed second in the 50-meter backstroke (42.11), 50-meter freestyle (36.69), 100-meter butterfly (1:48.56) and 200-meter breaststroke (3:34.64).
Other Leopard Sharks event winners included Anna Tewell, who placed first in the 50-meter backstroke among girls age 7-8 and Huston Hurst, who placed first in the 200-meter breaststroke in the boys’ 11-12 division. In the boys’ 15-and-over divisions, Ryan Cutrone won the 50-meter breaststroke, Caleb Neighbors won the 50-meter backstroke, and Tyler Cutrone won the 100-meter backstroke. Bailey Duran won the 50-meter butterfly in the girls’ 15-and-over division.
Several other Leopard Sharks swimmers also ranked near the top of individual events. After the meet, first-year swimmer Caleb Neighbors spoke about swimming in Cortez’s best-known swim meet.
“It’s really fun to meet people and swim with your friends,” Neighbors said. “I’ve had a great time, and (this meet) has provided me with a great opportunity to communicate with my team.”
With the summer swim season still in its early stages, many Leopard Sharks swimmers indicated that they are still rounding into shape under the tutelage of first-year coach Justin Racer, who was hired by the team last fall.
Asked about his goals for the remainder of the season, Leopard Sharks veteran Tyler Cutrone indicated that he plans to continue honing his technique throughout the summer with an eye toward postseason meets later in the year.
“The (Cortez meet) is not going as well for me as other meets have, but it’s still fun,” Cutrone said. “I get to see all of my friends, and it’s great to be out here doing a sport that I enjoy. Community is a huge part of swimming, and it’s the reason that I’ve been sticking with it after all of these years.”
With their summer season now in full swing, the Leopard Sharks will return to practice this week to prepare for the Durango Swim Club Invitational in Durango on June 9-10.