By Kurt Johnson
Photos by Ari Davis
When the time came to choose our 2014-2015 Utah high school sports teams of the year, we started with two very long lists and started cutting back from there. As we went through the girls teams on that list, we looked at multiple undefeated basketball teams, a number of two-time or even three-time defending champions (or more than that in a couple of cases).
As we narrowed our list, our focus was continually drawn to two “teams” on our list, in both cases because of their dominant performances just this year. I use the quotes around teams because one of the two was a collective effort between four girls teams at Panguitch, where a core group of young ladies combined four times for state titles.
In the end, however, we went in another direction, choosing instead to look at complete dominance by one team in one sport. With that in mind, the girls team of the year for the 2014-2015 school sports year is the swim team at Park City High.
10 for 11
It was just one event, but it was the fourth competition of the Class 3A state meet in the pool at Brigham Young University, and it came as the final event of the opening session of the championships. Zoe Smith of Desert Hills sprinted ahead of the field to capture the top spot on the podium in the shortest swim of the meet – the 50-yard freestyle.
Seven events were contested the next day, and when it was all over, that short 50-yard sprint was the lone contest not won by a swimmer from Park City. The Lady Miners won 10-of-11 events to score 581 points, more than double their nearest competitor, Cedar.
Park City opened the first day of competition with freshman Katie Hale, sophomore Joelle Hess, junior Mara Selznick and senior Becca Selznick combining to win the 200-yard medley relay in 3A state record time (1:48.24). Event 11 on Day 2 featured sophomore Rozie Selznick, freshman Siena Senn, Hale and Becca Selznick joining forces for a 3A state record swim in the 400-yard freestyle relay (3:37.67).
In between, there were either other state titles and two more state records. The records fell as Rozie Selznick, freshman Blaire McDowell, Senn and senior Alandra McDowell shared the pool to win the 200 freestyle relay in 1:40.39 and Blaire McDowell set a new 3A mark in the 100- yard breaststroke (1:06.00).
Ten wins in 11 events, four state records and even in that one race a Park City swimmer could not managed to win, Becca Selznick (third place), Blaire McDowell (fourth) and junior Haley Fort (fifth) all represented the Miners on the podium. That’s dominance.
And the Depth
It’s not just all the championships that impress but the depth of this team that makes it, in our opinion, the girls sport team of the year statewide.
Rozie Selznick won two events, the 100 and 200 freestyle. In the 200, Senn finished second to Selznick and in the 100, Becca Selznick was fourth. Alandra McDowell also captured a pair of individual championships, in the 200-yard individual medley and the 500 freestyle. Hess was second in the medley, while the Miners swept the top four spots in the 500 free (Senn finished second, freshman Sabine Caplan was third and senior Megan Flake captured fourth).
Mara Selznick and Hale went 1-2 in the 100-yard butterfly and in the 100 backstroke. Selznick was the winner in the fly, while Hale took the top spot in the backstroke. In Blaire McDowell’s record-setting performance in the breaststroke, she was pushed by her teammates, as Hess finished second and junior Lily Tyler was third.
That’s 12 different swimmers delivering big-time performances in a team performance that was as impressive as they come, and with nine of those 12 back next year, what is the competition to do?
For now, we celebrate the Lady Miners’ performance with the designation as the Preps Utah girls sport team of the year for 2014-2015.