By Craig Harper
For the Courier
LAKEWOOD — After years with Lexie Malazdrewicz as the indisputable poster child for Evergreen girls swimming, the door is wide open for a successor. Though a team picture might be a more proper replacement, Bailey Smith would be a leading early season candidate.
The junior proved to be the Lady Cougars’ top performer in their Dec. 14 120-65 dual meet victory over D’Evelyn at the Carmody Pool. Smith, who placed sixth and eighth in last season’s 100- and 200-yard freestyles at the state 4A meet, won the 50 freestyle and 100 backstroke, and came from behind on her anchor legs for a pair of relay victories.
“It was exciting. It’s a good way to start my season,” said Smith, who missed Evergreen’s opener with Wheat Ridge.
Smith beat D’Evelyn’s Colleen Olson, a double-state qualifier last season, in winning the 50 in 24.83 seconds and the backstroke in 59.77. She trailed D’Evelyn swimmers diving into the water in the 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays.
“I was pretty nervous going into it, but I feel better under pressure,” Smith said of her relay rallies. “I’m just really excited for the rest of the season. I don’t normally swim the 100 back, so that was fun.”
Josie Pearson, another of coach Jeanne Godaire’s impressive lineup of juniors, also notched a pair of wins. A returning state qualifier in the 200 individual medley and 100 butterfly, Pearson won both with state-qualifying times of 2 minutes, 15.58 seconds and 1:00.82.
Pearson is a determined swimmer this season. She placed second in the IM as a freshman in 2012, but fell to 13th last season (ninth in the butterfly). “I wasn’t too happy how I swam state last year, especially compared to freshman year,” she said. “I’m trying to be confident in my abilities and go out there and be aggressive.”
Katelyn Kenchel (200 freestyle, 1:59.28) and Kamryn Holland (100 freestyle, 56.55) also posted swimming victories for Evergreen, which swept all three relays. Lindsay Morrow, a 2013 state finalist in the IM and backstroke, and Anna McDonald (fifth IM, 10th breaststroke) did not compete.
The Lady Cougars also went 1-2 in diving with their pair of returning sophomore state qualifiers. Katrin Lewis (18th at state) edged Bailey Mills (ninth at state) for the second-straight meet, 218.70-204.80.
“We just push each other to do really well,” said Lewis, a second-year diver who switched sports from gymnastics before her freshman year.
Mills is aiming for a top-five finish at state and is hoping to do so by adding difficulty to her repertoire. She was positioned for a victory in the D’Evelyn dual, but didn’t quite hit her final dive. “I would’ve rather done my reverse dive better, but not every dive’s going to be really good,” she said. “It’s one of my favorites, but I have to make sure my hurdle doesn’t go too far off the board.”