Sophomore Torrie Hill joked that one of the best parts of having a meet in Douglas was being able to wake up at home and take a nap after swimming instead of getting back on a bus.
“It was great to have family and friends be able to come and watch and not have the long bus ride home,” she said.
With a full cheering section for the Bearcats swimmers and for the first time this season, the squad stayed home for a meet. They took to the pool Oct. 3 at the Douglas Rec Center against teams from Buffalo, Rawlins, Newcastle and Natrona County. Even before the 10 a.m. start, head coach Tylor Weiss’ squad was in the pool for a morning practice.
The meet kicked off with team racing — the 200 medley relay. The Lady Bearcats team of Lexis Temple, Faith Hayes, Shayla Moore and Shauna Smith took second in the relay with a finals time of 2:35.52.
Moore and Hill followed up the relay in the 200 freestyle. Moore’s time of 2:43.72 earned her fourth place, while Hill took eighth after clocking a 3:14.19.
The only Bearcat to take on the 200 IM was Temple, claiming fourth place after hitting the wall in 3:27.34.
The fourth event of the day, the 50 freestyle, took four heats to give all 23 swimmers a chance — three of whom represented the home team. Hayes took home 15 points for her fourth place in 33.03, with Smith and her 33.88 time, two spots behind her. Ashtyn Kolkman fought for 15th place with a 39.47 finish.
Right square in the middle of the meet came the diving competition. With seven rounds, senior Lauren Pooley led the pack. Not only did she represent DHS at home as the lone diver, she took first place out of seven divers. Her final score of 172.25 was over 11 points higher than the next closest finisher.
Pooley routinely leads the way for divers and has already qualified for the State Championships in Gillette. Once the dives were done, the team’s four seniors had a chance to walk out with their parents to applause from the rest of the stands.
Hayes came out of the break as the only Bearcat in the 100 butterfly where she took third place. Her time of 1:26.32 was only 0.24 seconds behind the second place finisher.
Four girls from Douglas took on the 100 freestyle with Moore leading the way. Her 1:08.35 gave her sole possession of fourth place with Smith’s 1:15.93 good for seventh. Hill earned 13th in her second solo race of the day, finishing in 1:24.12, and Kolkman took 16th in 1:30.20.
“I could’ve done a lot better. I’m still recovering so I’m a little rusty. Still trying to get back into things,” Hill said.
Just a sophomore, she’s still recovering from double osteotomy surgery. After being “pigeon-toed” during her childhood and dislocating her knees playing basketball, Hill needed to go under the knife. For double osteotomy, the surgeons had to break her femur, tibia and fibula and rotate them into the proper place.
With all that barely in the rear-view, she’s still getting used to her new legs and updated swimming form.
Out of the meet’s final four races, two were individual and two were team. The Douglas team took third at the 200 freestyle relay with a final time of 2:26.19. The team was, in order, Pooley, Kolkman, Hill and Smith. Temple’s finishing time in the 10th event, the 100 backstroke, was a 1:25.28 stop that earned her third place.
With no Bearcats in the 100 breaststroke, the only race left on the day was the 400 freestyle relay. With nine teams giving it their all over two heats, the foursome of Hayes, Kolkman, Temple and Moore claimed sixth place and a 6:11.35 finish.
There’s still four more meets this season, but the girls have their eyes on the end-of-the-year prize.
Moore’s goal is to get top-12 at the State Championship meet in her events; she’s qualified in all but three of her events for Gillette. As an eight-person team that spends almost every weekend on the road, the Bearcats swimmers are together much of the time.
“We’re all really close and we’ve been together for so long that this just feels like home,” Moore said.
Hill added that as a group, including the coaches, they’re more of a family than a team. The next meet for the girls swimmers will be Saturday, when they are back on the road headed to Rawlins.