Park City's supporters, swimmers and coaches erupted in celebration when the announcer inside the Fairmont Aquatic Center broke the news the Miners' girls team had just edged Judge to win the Region 10 championship, 550-515.
One Park City parent jubilantly yelled from the balcony: "The Judge reign is over ... It's over." To steal a line from ESPN college football analyst Lee Corso, "Not so fast, my friend."
The last time Park City's girls team beat Judge to a region title back in 2003 the Bulldogs came back to defeat Park City two weeks later for the 3A title, and Judge will remain a slight favorite to win its sixth consecutive state championship when the 3A meet commences on Feb. 1.
To be fair, Park City coach Mike Werner and his swimmers all know about the dog fight they're in for. Nonetheless, they were more than thrilled Saturday morning to topple Judge at a region championship for the first time in five years.
"We all understand that it's going to be up for grabs, but I think (winning region) is going to be the big push (to know) that we can do it," said Park City senior Lyndsay Shand, who dropped more than three seconds to win the 500 free. "And we are right there, and it's not going to be like last year where it doesn't even matter. It is so huge I'm so excited."
Meanwhile, Wasatch, ranked second in 3A, cruised to a comfortable win over second-place Park City, 569-406, on the boys side.
In addition to Shand, star senior Samantha Case won the 200 IM and 100 fly, and teammates Sara Testa and Jackie Sitko each had one individual victory.
However, what made Werner most happy was the fact that everyone below his stars swam well this weekend.
"It's not just about the fast kids," he said. "It's about the kids that have been working hard all year, and they stepped up and really brought it today."
On the other hand, Judge Memorial wasn't horribly disappointed with its second-place finish. The Bulldogs swam many of their top-level kids in off events, and like Park City recognized that the major looms on the horizon.
"The basic premise of this meet was of preparation for two weeks from now, and to shore up the weaknesses that we obviously have," said Judge coach Matt Finnigan.
On the boys side, Jacob Schofield and Joseph Brown won twice individually to help pace Wasatch. Eric Birkin won the 100 breast, and the Wasps also swept all three relays.
However, perhaps the biggest highlight for Wasatch came in the 500 free. Rycklee O'Driscoll and Al Larsen, despite having no taper, registered drops of more than 18 seconds each to finish 3-4 in the event.
"Those 500 guys were just awesome," said Wasatch coach Leo Overdyn.Individually, Willie Wilson of ICS was the meet's other standout. He finished first in the 200 IM and 100 fly, even though he technically didn't place because ICS, the tiny Salt Lake private school, isn't a member of Region 10.
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