Fossil girls win six of twelve events at the state meet


Matyi Mayo, Staff writer

The Sabercats ended their season strong, racing their way to a fourth-place overall finish at the state meet on Friday night.

The state meet consisted of two days—Preliminaries were on Thursday, finals were on Friday. Top twenty qualified for finals. 

Finals consisted of two heats of ten swimmers for each event. (First heat: consolation final, second heat: championship final.) Qualifying for the state meet itself is already a huge accomplishment. Fossil took eighteen girls to the meet Thursday night.

The girls knew that this meet was going to be very competitive. Due to that, they could not hold anything back in prelims. They had to race hard on Thursday to give themselves a chance to score points on Friday.

Five Sabercats made it back to finals on Friday, with four of them making it back in the championship final . All three relays also made it back to finals. Fossil was lacking the depth they were ultimately hoping for Friday night, but that just motivated the girls to go after every race and hold nothing back.

The Sabercats started out the finals session of the meet with the 200 medley relay (One lap of each stroke, one by every swimmer; order of backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly, freestyle.) They were seeded second going into the event, but knew that they had a chance at winning. After two legs of the race, Fossil was trailing but still in the race. Lucy Bell dove in for the third leg of the race (butterfly), and split a second and a half faster than the closest competitor. She put Fossil in the lead. Emma Stahl, who is known for swimming in highly intense situations, held off the competition and put her hand on the wall first, giving Fossil the win. It was a great way to start off the meet, giving the Sabercats the ultimate momentum going into the rest of the night.

Next up was the 200 freestyle, where Emily Rinker swam in the championship final. She was seeded tenth going into finals and swam her way to a ninth-place finish.

The 200 IM was next, where the Sabercats had two girls in the Championship final, Mahala Erlandson and Lucy Bell. From start to end, Lucy dominated the race. She won the event by over six seconds, finishing with a time of 1:58.16. That time is among one of the fastest times in the country this season and is one of the fastest among the all-time rankings. That time from Bell broke Sabercat alumni Zoe Bartel’s pool record and school record. Mahala Erlandson had herself a huge time drop from prelims, dropping two seconds, which put her in seventh place.

While swimmers get the rest they need during the diving break, Aspen Warnygora competed her way to an impressive, fourteenth place finish in diving.

The 100 fly was up next. For Renee Gillilan, the state preparation was not ideal. Gillilan was injured for a few weeks and had to miss numerous workouts to get better. Despite all that, Renee still won the 100 butterfly by a second, showing everyone how important the mental aspect of swimming is. She did not let her setbacks get to her at all and raced her heart out. 

This is the second year in a row Renee has won the 100 butterfly, and the fifth year in a row someone from the Gillilan family has won the event (Coleen Gillilan 2016-2018, Renee Gillilan 2019-2020).  Emma Stahl swam in the consolation final of the event, racing her way to a fifteenth place finish.

The 100 free was next, where Lucy Bell held off everyone and placed first, making it her second individual win of the night.

The 200 free relay was next for the Sabercats. Kenadie Glasgow, a freshman for the Sabercats, swam in her first-ever state final and had a very impressive swim leading off the relay.  Emily Rinker was the second leg of the relay who was followed up by senior Jaidyn Nelson, who also had her first-ever state final swim. Jaidyn was not originally on the relay, but coach Jimmy Rodriguez was so impressed by her performance in the 200 IM on Thursday, that he put her on the relay. Emma Stahl was the anchor leg of the relay, helping the Sabercats to a tenth place finish in that event.

Emily Rinker and Renee Gillilan were up next in the 100 backstroke. Emily competed in the consolation final and raced her way to an eighteenth place finish. In the championship final, there were four girls who were separated by just 0.4 seconds. Renee knew it was going to be a close race and that to give herself a chance at winning, she would have to be out first from the beginning. At the halfway mark she had the lead and ended up holding on to that lead all the way to the finish. That was the second win of the night for Renee.

The 100 breast was up next where Junior, Mahala Erlandson was in the championship final. The race was extremely competitive. From third to eighth place there was only a .5 difference. Due to a great finish from Erlandson, she was able to finish in third place and make her way onto the podium. 

The last race of the day was the 400 free relay, where coach Rodriguez put together the order of the relay with a different than usual approach. Normally the two fastest swimmers go first and last on relays; but on this one, Lucy Bell and Renee Gillilan, who have the two fastest times for the Sabercats, were the first two legs. Lucy went first and split a blistering 49.17 leading off the relay, which is almost a second faster than what she went in the 100 free in the individual race. (That time is also among one of the fastest times in the country this season for the 100 free.) She obviously gave Fossil a huge initial lead. Gillilan increased that lead, leaving Mahala Erlandson and Emily Rinker with a comfortable lead to ultimately win the event.

The Sabercats really showed up and competed. They exceeded most expectations. They won six out of the twelve events in the meet. For such a small team that is a huge accomplishment going up against teams double their size. A huge part of Fossil’s success were sophomores Lucy Bell and Renee Gillilan. They each swam four total events. Two individuals, as well as two relays. They were four for four…winning every event they competed in.

Here is a list of everyone that competed in the state meet for Fossil:

Jaidyn Nelson

Mahala Erlandson

Amber Siverts

Summer Siverts

Kenadie Glasgow

Lucy Bell

Renee Gillilan

Renee Trombley

Emma Stahl

Emily Rinker

Bella Kiefer

Georgia Ewer

Camilla Marsili

Aspen Warnygora

Ella Peterson

Stephanie Pfahnl

Riley Green

Julia Petrino