MT. PLEASANT – The first ever Tri-Sanpete School Swim Meet was held on Tuesday, Nov. 9 at the Mount Pleasant Aquatic Center, where teams from Gunnison, Manti and North Sanpete battled it out in the water. The winning team received a wooden boat paddle, which will travel from year to year with the winning team throughout future years.
Battle for the Paddle is planned to become an annual event to kick off the swimming competition season. It will be something to get the swimmers ready, along with indulging some friendly rivalry.
Gunnison’s Boys and Girls Teams started off the meet with a bang, taking both the 200 yard medley relays. The girl’s team that consists of Soraya Leatherwood, Zaya Hilton, Emily Flake and Hadlee McDonald swam with a combined time of 2:30.64, a whole six seconds ahead of the second place team from Manti.
The boy’s race was much closer, with the Bulldogs only taking the race by one second. The team members are Ryan Bretz, Carter Nielson, Caleb Matthews and Tyler Waters.
Following those first two races, winners surfaced from all three teams. Top individual winners were Lillian Wasden of Manti in the girls’ 200 yard freestyle and North Sanpete’s Josh Andersen in the boys’. North Sanpete took the top space in both the boys’ and girls’ 200 yard IM with teammates Ella Cook and Gideon Palmer.
North Sanpete also led in the girls’ and boys’ 50 yard freestyle. Kendra Smith (NS) took first in the heat by six one hundredths of a second over Gunnison’s Emily Flake. Josh Andersen and Kason Erickson, both of North Sanpete, held the top two spot in the boys.
Manti’s Mishelle Gankyuhag placed first in the girls’ 100 yard butterfly, and Gunnison’s Caleb Matthews took it for the boys.
Bulldogs Emily Flake and Ryan Bretz took the top spot in the 100 yard freestyle. In the girls’ 500 yard freestyle, Manti’s Lillian Wasden won with over a thirty second lead. North Sanpete’s Gideon Palmer won the boys’ heat with almost a whole minute to spare.
Gunnison’s girls team—Emily Flake, Hadlee McDonald, Soraya Leatherwood, and Monsera Vargas—won the 200 yard freestyle. The Manti boys team—Trevor Taggart, Tyler Taggart, Patrick Hansen and Dyson Winsor—took the win for the Templars.
The seventeenth event of the evening was the girls’ 100 yard backstroke, with the winner being Adison Thomas out of Manti. The boys had Gunnison’s Ryan Breta holding the first place spot. Zaya Hilton held another first place spot for Gunnison in the girls’ 100 yard breaststroke, with Carter Nielson clinching it in the boys’.
One of the longest events is the 400 yard freestyle relay. Manti’s girls team—Adison Johnson, Annie Johnson, Janessa Bridges, and Lillian Wasden—took first with a time of 5:19.50, which was thirty seconds ahead of the North Sanpete team. On the boys’ race, the Hawks easily swam into first place with teammates Kason Ericksen, Josh Thompson, Gideon Palmer and Josh Andersen.
After each swim event was complete, each competitor’s time was given placement points to be added together for the overall winners. The Manti High Swim Team took home the paddle this year with a combined team score of 730. North Sanpete came in second with 594 points, and Gunnison finished in third with 526 points.
This is Manti’s first year to have a swim team, and their numbers of swimmers are pretty high. Rachel Keller will coach the Templars this season. She comes to Manti as a former swim coach from North Sanpete. She saw a need in Manti and took the initiative to make it happen.
Gunnison’s coach, Jeremy Vinict, is excited for this coming season and loved the Battle for the Paddle. He said that it gives the county something to celebrate.
David LaTomme, coach for the Hawks, said that he has a team that is improving every year. With a team full of seniors, it’s looking to be very promising for the Hawks.
“I am looking forward to the friendly rivalry that we have created happening every year,” said Coach LaTomme. “Watching all three swim teams grow and get better every year excited me for the future of swim in Sanpete County.”