PARK CITY The way senior Samantha Case sees it, there's a pretty simple reason why she and her Park City teammates want to knock off Judge's girls team at next February's 3A state meet.
"Judge is probably our biggest rival, school-wise and swimming-wise, just because they're so good at everything," said Case. "They just win all the time. So, we want to win."
For years, five-time defending champ Judge Memorial has been the class of Class 3A girls swimming. However, Park City stands neck-and-neck with the Bulldogs this year, and it will be a dogfight to determine the 3A girls champion.
To be fair, Park City's main focus is all its own swimmers and about getting them to swim as fast as possible. However, there's no question the Miners would love to end Judge's long championship reign.
"Judge has been the team to beat for so many years," said first-year Park City coach Mike Werner, who has previous experience working under coaches Craig Bjorklund of Layton, Brighton's Russ Lauber and Todd Etherington, and former Hunter coach Steve Marsing. "They've had a great program there that's just been consistently strong with gifted swimmers. They've got a great coach and a good staff, and I guess I'm lucky to say that I've got a group of kids that has decided they want it.
"It's up to them whether they get it or not."
Case will help lead the quest to topple Judge. The defending 3A champ in the 50-free has been well-known for her freestyle swims for years, but she's shown this fall that she's a much more complete swimmer.
Currently, she leads Class 3A in the 100-fly with a time of 1:01.19, which is almost three seconds faster than anyone else.
And as Werner points out, she's solid in the back and IM, as well.
"She's just very solid in all her strokes," he said. "It's going to be one of those things I don't really know where I'm going to put her and how things are going to end up. She's just really versatile and she's gifted all the way around.
"I think she'd be better in the 200 and the 500. I think those would be some of her best events. I know she doesn't want me to say that, but it could be fun."
After high school, Case said she wants to attend the University of Denver.
"I've already talked to the coach, and I'm pretty sure I can make the team. But I have to get faster," she said.
Right now, though, she's just enjoying being a senior and all the perks that go along with it, including preferred seating during trips to away meets.
"It's always been a goal to sit in the back of the bus," she joked.
If Park City's team race with Judge winds up being as close as many think it will be, relays will become hugely important. And that's where Case could be especially important.
"Sam loves a challenge. She's not afraid to get up and race," said Werner. "We had a meet a couple weeks ago, and I had two relays and I played with them. They were both pretty solid relays, but I had my two fastest kids (Case and Lyndsay Shand) anchoring them. And we were probably 12 yards behind (in both relays), and both my girls caught up and they both had ridiculously fast splits."They were literally 10 seconds behind .... but they just chased them down."
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