LAKEWOOD — For right now, as Lexie Malazdrewicz would say over and over Feb. 2 at the Carmody Rec Center, the Evergreen Lady Cougars are swimming good times. Keep in mind that a good time for them would be out of this world for most others.
Case in point, the finals of the 200-yard medley relay at this year’s 4A Jeffco League championships. The team of Malazdrewicz, Lindsay Morrow, Josie Pearson and Kamryn Holland only swam a time of 1 minute, 49.43 seconds, shattering their preliminary time by more than four seconds and beating second-place D’Evelyn by nearly six seconds.
And that was just the beginning of what would be a dominant performance by Evergreen.
The Lady Cougars won 10 of 12 events to score 423 points and easily dispose of D’Evelyn, which had won four consecutive league titles. The Lady Jaguars came in second – 109 points back. No other team in the seven-school field scored more than 200 points.
“We wanted to go out and destroy that relay and show everyone who Evergreen is,” Malazdrewicz said. “We did really good. It was a really good time for right now.”
Then there was Malazdrewicz’s win in the 50 freestyle. Her time of 24.09 seconds clipped D’Evelyn’s Colleen Olson by 0.41 seconds.
“It’s fine. A 24.09 is a pretty good time for right now,” said Malazdrewicz, who later added a nearly two-second victory in the 100 freestyle. “I guess we’ll have to see what happens. I’ll probably have to get off the blocks a little quicker next time.”
You get the theme? Evergreen may be swimming as good as any team in the state, but the Lady Cougars are giving themselves room to improve.
The victory was Evergreen’s first league championship since 1999 when it was three straight from 1997-99.
“It’s a huge accomplishment for our girls,” Evergreen head coach Jeanne Godaire said. “I’m so proud of them. They’ve done great today.”
While the Lady Cougars were as dominant as ever at the conference championships it’s just a building block for the 4A state championships at Thornton’s Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center on Feb. 8-9. That’s the one Evergreen is working for. The Lady Cougars came in second a year ago to Thompson Valley, but this year — this team — seemingly is in position to take that next step. It certainly showed no reason why it couldn’t in the league finals.
In addition to the 200 medley relay, Evergreen won the 200 freestyle relay behind the team of Pearson, Malazdrewicz, Anna McDonald and Bailey Smith in 1:38.90. Then the Lady Cougars capped the meet with a dominant six-plus second victory in the 400 freestyle relay behind the team of Smith, Holland, Morrow and Myriah Ariza-Balter.
When the Lady Cougars weren’t just beating the rest of the field they were pushing themselves. Case in point was Holland’s 1 minute, 57.59 victory in the 200 freestyle. She beat out teammate Ariza-Balter by 1.55 seconds.
“We both decided to go out fast. Myriah had me and I felt it. But I think the training we’ve been having lately has been difficult. It got to both of us,” Holland said. She also won the 500 freestyle in 5:23.72, nearly 14 seconds ahead of Green Mountain’s Lilia Kerski.
That’s how much Evergreen is pushing itself to be even better than it already has been.
“We both told each other that we were going to go out fast and push it because we can,” Ariza-Balter said.
Morrow scored a pair of individual victories in the 200 individual medley (2:09.18) and the 100 backstroke (57.22). McDonald dominated the 100 breaststroke in a time of 1:11.43. She won by nearly three seconds.
Even when the Lady Cougars settled for second, like Pearson had to in the 100 butterfly, it was a win.
“It wasn’t exactly what I wanted it to be with my time, but I felt good because I got second,” said Pearson, who finished in 1:00.17 — 3.18 seconds back of Brenna Bushey of D’Evelyn. “We’re just trying to win this meet so second was a good finish for the team.”
The only other event Evergreen didn’t win was the 1-meter diving competition. Brynn Fraunehoff of D’Evelyn scored 338.4 points to topple the Lady Cougars’ Bailey Mills, who was second with 327.65 points. Evergreen’s Katrin Lewis was third with 300.55 points.
If there were any doubts that Evergreen is prepared for the 4A state championships it put those to rest at the league finals.
“I think they’re ready,” Godaire said. “We’ll rest some, but I think they’re going to be ready. They’re going to be in great shape.”
Contact Michael Hicks at email@example.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 15.