Northern Wyoming Daily News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

By Alex Kuhn
Sports Editor 

Lady Warriors cap week with excellent showing in Gillette


October 17, 2017


Lady Warriors Kristen Collingwood (pink cap) and Kaci Bentley (black cap) congratulate each other after the 50-yard freestyle during the Worland Triangular at the Worland Aquatic Center Thursday night.

Lady Warriors cap week with excellent showing in Gillette

By Alex Kuhn

Sports Editor

WORLAND - Closing out the regular season with three-straight meets tested the Worland High School swimming team both physically and mentally.

"It was an interesting weekend of swimming for us," said WHS girls swimming coach Mike Blissett. "The only thing I knew for sure with our three days in a row of competition was that we'd probably not see any time drops on Friday in Buffalo."

With the Worland Triangular on Thursday and Gillette Invite on Saturday, Blissett and his staff talked with the Buffalo High School coaches, and together they decided to make Friday's scheduled dual, more fun than serious.

"The coaches decided to make the meet a little more fun by scrambling up the two teams, called Gold and Orange, and have them compete against each other. Plus, we changed up the normal relays with 'fun' relays," said Blissett.

The changes made to the relays were making the medley relay elementary backstroke, sidestroke, backward butterfly and corkscrew. For the 200-yard freestyle relay swimmers had to wear and switch a sweatshirt for each leg, and the 400 freestyle relay was turned into a 200 underwater relay.

Both coaching staffs got in on the fun as well, forming a team to compete in the relays.

"The coaches from both teams also swam together in these relays. We had a lot of fun with that. Hopefully, the girls enjoyed it, too. It was just a fun break from the routine, and we knew going in that the meet would be kind of chaotic and distracting, so we weren't too concerned with results. That said, the girls did a nice job of holding pretty close to their season-best times, which was good enough for us," said Blissett.


Thursday night Worland hosted Cody and Rawlins for their final home meet of the season, which it was also senior night for seniors Felicia Aguilar, Emily Brown, Kristen Collingwood and Skyler Wrage.

Blissett also wanted to keep things light and fun during the Triangular, putting together a relay team with only names beginning with "K" or a relay team with the shortest girls on the team.

"Senior Night, Felicia Aguilar, Emily Brown, Kristen Collingwood, and Skyler Wrage were honored as our senior class. They also started the meet off for us as the only medley relay team competing from our team, it turned into a pretty exciting race.

"We subtly did some other fun things, too, like a relay with girls whose names start with 'K', and another with all of our shortest girls. Finally, each girl chose their own events. They all seemed to have fun, and we had some excellent swims as well," said Blissett.

Thursday night was filled with highlights for the Lady Warriors, first was junior Ellyse Russell breaking the school record in the 200 freestyle with a time of 2:01.40, the old record was previously 2:02.10. It was also the third consecutive meet in which Russell has broken a record. Russell also won the 100 freestyle to go along with her record-setting night.

Junior Juli Warren automatically qualified for the 3A State meet in diving, and in doing so joined Jennifer Davis as the only two Lady Warriors in program history to have qualified for every State event in a single season.

"It's a remarkable accomplishment and really speaks to her athleticism, versatility and determination. Oh, and she also won the 50 free. She's an incredible girl to coach, and we're so thankful that she's on our team," said Blissett.

Other highlights include, Junior Kyra Klinghagen set a personal record on the diving board. Ella Stanek qualifying in the 200 individual medley, bringing her total to three state events. Collingwood added the 50 free to her AQ list, which now sits at seven.

The Lady Warrior swimmers also turned in excellent time drops, Alejandra Rice in the 200 and 100 freestyles; Kylie Warren in the 200 freestyle and 100 breaststroke; Annalise Newell in the 100 butterfly; Macy Trombley in the 200 IM and 100 freestyle; Brown in the 500 freestyle and Aguilar in the 100 backstroke.


The Gillette Invitational is basically a preview for the upcoming state meet. A majority of the 4A and 3A teams compete during this meet, and with the postseason finally here it lets teams and swimmers see where they stack-up amongst the best.

"With the Gillette meet, our concern was how the girls would hold up having to compete for three days in a row when both of the first two meets were very emotional and distracting. The girls understood how important it was to show up mentally and do the best they could. We were short five girls due to the State Marching Band competition, but all teams were short for the same reason. However, the girls we did have, definitely showed up and gave some fantastic swims," said Blissett.

Shorthanded and going against the top swimmers in the state the Lady Warriors still put on a good show. The 200 medley relay got things started finishing third with a time of 1:59.96, only trailing 4A Green River, second with a time of 1:56.46, and Sheridan, first with a time of 1:51.00.

"It was a great way to start the meet, and it was fun seeing Worland in 3rd in team points for a little while," said Blissett.

Highlights from the Gillette Invite include, Collingwood taking three seconds off her 200 freestyle and dropping time in the 100 butterfly; Aguilar qualifying for state and setting a new PR in the 200 IM; Russell taking fifth in the 50 freestyle and fourth in the 100 freestyle; Trombley placing ninth in the 50 and 100 freestyles; Rice shaving time in her 100 butterfly and cutting eight seconds in the backstroke; the 200 freestyle relay (Trombley, Collingwood, Juli Warren, Russell) placing fifth, the next 3A team to place was Lander in ninth.

Juli Warren dropped over a second in the 200 IM, finishing seventh with a time of 2:21.28. Warren is also closing in on the team record in the 100 breaststroke, a record set by her last season at state.

All in all, Blissett was proud of his team for being able to compete like they did and show the best is yet to come.

"After three days of competing, with the emotions of senior night and the chaos of switching up the teams in Buffalo, the girls were still able to impress us with their time drops and their focus on Saturday," said Blissett.


This week the Lady Warriors travel to Rawlins for the 3A East conference meet on Friday and Saturday. As a team, Worland will be aiming to bring home their fourth-straight conference championship.

"The Conference meet is in Rawlins this year, this Friday and Saturday. The girls will be defending for their fourth-straight conference title! The girls and coaches all know that their hard work is about to pay off, and it's getting really exciting. But there are five other teams in our conference that are going to try to stop us. No matter what the final result of the meet is, we know the girls are primed and ready to swim their best," said Blissett.


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