The Lady Panther Swim and Dive team repeated as conference champions


Jaimel Blasjsack

The Lady Panther Swim and Dive stands on the podium with the trophy after winning the East Absaraka Conference Championship for the second year in a row.

After a perfect regular season, the Lady Panther Girls Swim and Dive team became back-to-back conference champions after winning the East Absaraka Conference Championship in Buffalo on Oct. 21-22. 

The Lady Panthers scored a grand total of 369 points at the meet which beat the runner-up, Cody, by nearly 130 points. 

“Our win was a total team effort,” head coach Bob Smartt said. “In the eight of the nine individual events, we scored more points than any other team.”

 Powell gained momentum after winning the 200 yard medley relay with a time of 1:57.50. The team was composed of seniors Grace Sapp and Emma Mitchell and juniors Paige Thomas and Kik Hayano. 

“We worked really hard to beat the other relay teams,” Hayano said. “I think it set a precedent [for the meet] by showing our girls that we really could win events at the meet and showed how our team had been working hard.”

Following suit, senior Gabby Paterson was the sole finalist in the 200 free placing second. The 200 yard individual medley was a strong event for the Lady Panthers as they placed second, fourth, fifth, and eighth. Junior Kik Hayono took second, junior Paige Thomas took fourth, senior Grace Sapp took fifth, and freshman Patricia Christiansen took eighth. Senior Emma Mitchell secured the victory in the 50 yard freestyle.

Our win was a total team effort. In the eight of the nine individual events, we scored more points than any other team.

— Bob Smartt

“We should expect good individual medley results,” Smartt said. “We train all four strokes in almost every practice. Because more muscle groups are recruited, some swim coaches believe that an IM-based program results in fewer shoulder problems than a freestyle program.”

Moving on to diving, senior Kami Jensen placed second in the 11-dive competition with 373 points, which improves her fifth place score on the Powell Wall of Fame. Freshman Victoria Blasjsack placed third and earned a new personal best of 315 points while junior Aramonie Brinkerhoff placed fourth following closely behind with 313 points.

“I think the championship went well,” Jensen said. “I don’t want to say I was expecting to win, but I was expecting a tough battle for first place because that’s what it looked like throughout the season.”

Following diving, Powell took four of the top eight places in the 100 yard butterfly and three of the top twelve places in the 100 yard freestyle. Many of the swimmers improved their seeded positions significantly.

The 500 yard freestyle also proved to be a strong event for the Lady Panthers. Freshman Kaitlin Diver led the way placing third. Juniors Baylee Brence and Charlee Brence followed, placing fifth and seventh. Rounding out the event, freshman Emma Sapp took twelfth place. 

In a close race, Powell took second to Cody in the 200 yard freestyle relay. The 100 yard backstroke was the best individual event for the team. The event scored a total of 45 points with Grace Sapp taking home the win. Freshmen Addy Powell and Patricia Christensen placed second and fourth while sophomore Kate Miller and junior Cassidy Reimer took eight and tenth place respectively. 

Nearing the end of the competition, senior Emma Mitchell placed third in the 100 yard breaststroke and junior Aubree Fisher took fourth. Powell came in third place in the 400 yard freestyle relay which was composed of seniors Gabby Paterson and Grace Sapp and freshmen Kaitlin Diver and Addy Powell.

“Next year, we will miss our seniors who in total provided 93 individual points for the team,” Smartt said. “However, with good training and attention to proper biomechanic, we can keep the conference trophy.’

The Lady Panthers will travel to Laramie for the State Championship on Nov. 3-4.