FORT COLLINS — Things at the Class 5A state girls swimming and diving championships did not go as Shelley Perkins had planned.
Then something truly unexpected happened to make things a little better.
The highly touted Chatfield senior speedster placed third in the 50-yard freestyle and fourth in the 100 freestyle after swimming the second-best times in both events during prelims at the Edora Pool Ice Center.
Disappointed, but not discouraged, Perkins was soaking it all in at the end of the meet when she was announced as co-swimmer of the year, along with Loren Brandon of Cherry Creek, which won its 25th team title.
“I’m really honored that that happened because I really think it made my meet a lot better,” Perkins said. “That really made me feel good. I feel I can’t really get upset because I did have a really good year. Even though it ended this way, I’m happy with how I did.”
Adding to the surprises for the Chargers was senior diver Sarah Moore. Moore raised some eyebrows by scoring the third-most points in the prelims and went on to place fifth with 399.40 points before being named 5A diver of the year.
“It’s fun to be here. It was exciting,” said Moore, who admitted she scored “a bit higher” than she expected.
The Chargers scored 123 points to finish eighth in the team standings. The Chargers made the finals of 200 and 400 freestyle relays and had Katherine Glassner swim in the 200 and 500 freestyle finals.
The Chargers also placed 14th in the 200 medley relay.
Columbine junior Kaitlynn Jackson scored 11 of the Rebels’ 17 points. Jackson placed 12th in the 200 freestyle and was 11th in the 100 freestyle. The Rebels placed 14th in the 200 freestyle relay.
Dakota Ridge scored nine points behind junior Hannah Cox, who dominated the consolation final of the 200 freestyle to win it with a time of 1 minute, 54.25 seconds, which would have put her fifth in the championship heat.
For the Chargers, Glassner got first crack at a final in the 200 freestyle. Glassner swam the event in 1:55.55 in the prelims, but was only able to go 1:56.53 in the finals, which was good for seventh.
Glassner fared better in the 500, as she placed fifth with a time of 5:09.32.
“My individual races were pretty good, but the relays …” said Glassner, who blamed herself for poor starts in the relays.
The Chargers were seventh in the 200 freestyle relay (1:40.23) and eighth in the 400 freestyle relay, which included Perkins, Glassner, Kylie Carlton and Jaimie Stevens.
Perkins stepped into the spotlight in the fourth event, which was also happens to be her favorite. Perkins, who set the 5A Jefferson County League record in the 50 freestyle, was seeded No. 2 after turning in a time of 23.90 seconds in the prelims.
Perkins’ rival was supposed to be Rampart junior Jenna Gregoire, but both would be outdone by Cherry Creek freshman phenom Bonnie Brandon and Fort Collins junior Tricia Nelson. Perkins swam a 23.95 in the final, which was good enough to beat Gregoire, but only fast enough for third.
“I think in the 50 you can never be too confident,” Perkins said. “You never know what’s going to happen. Last year I tied … You just have to go nuts and hope you do enough. Today’s wasn’t my day, which is fine. I’ve had meets like that.”
The opportunity for redemption came to both Perkins and Gregoire in the 100 freestyle. Gregoire seized the moment by shaving .16 seconds off her record time in 5A to win the event in 51.30 seconds. Perkins faded in the last moment and slipped to fourth with a time of 52.05, which was slower than her prelim time of 51.82.
Although frustrated, Perkins could still smile even when not thinking about being co-swimmer of the year. She also had her sense of humor.
“I’m not going to quit now,” she said.