Spartan Swimmers HopefulJan 16, 2015 11:12AM ● By Ty Gorton
Senior Tyler Nielsen was expected to do well at the Jan. 15 tri-meet with Skyline and Timpview. Photo courtesy of Dale Ralph
By Tom Haraldsen
What happened during a recent tri-meet (after our press deadline) may serve as a predicator for this year’s state 4A swimming championships. This might just be the year that the Murray Spartans bring home some hardware.
Entering a three-way meet with perennial state champ Skyline and Timpview on Jan. 15, the boys’ team enjoyed an unbeaten season, and the girls’ squad is excelling, thanks in large measure to a pair of young swimmers.
“We’re having a very good year,” coach Dale Ralph said. “A lot of our kids are realizing personal bests, and we’ve performed well in our dual and tri-meets. Now we’re focusing on this final meet; then looking ahead to region and state.”
Senior Carter Gratton could lead the charge for Murray. He holds the top time in Utah in the 100- meter backstroke (55.14) and 200-meter intermediate (2:00.87). Ralph said he has an excellent chance of capturing both at state, which will be held Feb. 13-14 at BYU.
“Carter continues to work very hard,” Ralph said. “I’m also excited about Kurt Healy (also a senior), who has the top time in the state in the 100- breaststroke. He has a great chance to win at state.”
Senior Tyler Nielsen and sophomore Jonah Black also have top 12 times in their specialties this season. Ralph said the meet with Skyline “will give us a real chance to see how we stack up with them. Skyline is always the favorite. If we step up and do well as a team, we have a chance to pull it (a championship) off.”
Among the Lady Spartans, no one has shined as brightly as sophomore Madelyn Flower. She has the state’s top time in the 100- breaststroke (1:07.72), and is among the best in the 200-IM (2:20.08) and all freestyle events. Because swimmers can only enter two individual events (in addition to relay teams), Flower will have to pick and choose her events.
“She’s so good at anything she takes on that anything is possible,” her coach said. “We have a lot of very young girls on the team this year, but they’re great competitors.”
In addition to Flower, freshman Heide Bleizeffer is among ranked swimmers in the freestyle events, while junior Micall Johnson is a strong backstroker.
The region 7 meet, where state qualifiers are determined, is scheduled for Jan. 31 at Olympus High, followed by state two weeks later.