Windsor’s Morgan Friesen shines at state, ends career a six-time champion | MyWindsorNow.com
Tommy Wood
twood@greeleytribune.com

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Windsor’s Morgan Friesen shines at state, ends career a six-time champion

Sanger shines for Wizards in dive

Makenna Sanger is trying to get where Morgan Friesen is. Her Windsor teammate, diving at her first state meet, finished fifth in the one-meter diving finals with a score of 433.3, good enough to make her an All-American.

“It’s amazing,” Sanger said. “All the hard work paid off.”

That’s true of any athlete who competes at this level; what separates Sanger is that she had to put in more work in less time than the girls she dove against. Sanger had never dived until two years ago, when she came to Windsor as a freshman.

She was a gymnast until then, when a back injury made her change sports. Sanger chose diving because of the parallels between the two, especially when it comes to balance and body control in the air.

Two years later, she’s an All-American, and as a sophomore should only go up from here.

“I have to push hard,” Sanger said.

More Wizardry

Windsor’s team of Erin Eccleston, Morgan Friesen, Jocelyn Petersen and Hunter Waterman finished sixth in the 200 medley relay.

Eccleston was ninth in the 100 butterfly with a time of 0:58.52, two seconds faster than her preliminary time; she was also 10th in the 100 backstroke with a 0:59.18 time.

Eccleston, Waterman, Friesen and Rilea Driscoll finished seventh in the 400 free relay in 3:40.27.

Strong showings from Spartans

Josie Carpenter continued her outstanding sophomore season — one in which she set the Greeley record in the 500 free — with a fifth-place showing in the same race. She finished in 5:13.54.

We’ll have much more on Carpenter, and her quest to own the 500, in Tuesday’s Greeley notes column.

West junior Elise Johnson finished seventh in the 100 breast in 1:06.84 and 15th in the 200 IM in 2:13.86.

On the Saturday that Morgan Friesen reaffirmed herself as one of Colorado's most dominant high school swimmers, the sun blazed far too brightly for early February and the wind blasted the outside of the Edora Pool and Ice Center in Fort Collins, the home of the Class 4A Girls Swimming and Diving Championships.

Inside, Friesen looked steady amid the tempest, but appearances can be deceiving. The Windsor senior, in her last meet in a high school pool, was as nervous as she'd ever been.

It didn't matter.

Friesen won the 200-yard individual medley for the second straight year, and the 100 breaststroke for the fourth. At the end of the day, she was named the 4A swimmer of the year.

As Friesen breathlessly dashed from picture to picture and hug to hug in the meet's aftermath, she summed up the day best.

"It was really surreal," she said. "It finally set in. Especially once we got here, there was no going back. This was it."

She was almost denied her storybook ending. The meet began an hour late, forcing swimmers to sit and wait in the hot, claustrophobic EPIC. Friesen had to wait another half-hour before the 200 IM, her first individual event, because a Silver Creek relay team protested a disqualification from the previous race.

By the time Friesen dove into her lane in the IM, her only pool time in the preceding hours was one leg of a relay. Though she won the prelims of the 200 by almost two seconds, she lagged behind in the final.

Friesen didn't lead until the sixth pool length of the eight-length race. It looked like she would pull ahead and win comfortably, as she so often did, but Ella Kirschke of Valor Christian hit the turbo. Kirschke closed with Friesen alarmingly quickly, and may have passed her had the race been any longer.

Friesen touched in at 2:06.55. She was four-tenths of a second faster.

"I definitely did not have the closing speed that I normally have," she said. "I'll have to go look at the video, but it was different than normal."

Whether it was the waiting, the nerves, her training or something else entirely, she couldn't pin down. Friesen had another long wait between the IM and the 100 breast, and whatever it was didn't dissipate.

The "100 breast" is a misnomer for that event, though, because for the last four years it's been Friesen's race. She was the three-time defending state champion and has owned the state record since 2014 (she broke her own record in 2015). Her closest margin of victory was a second and a half.

The race played out like a truncated version of her win in the 200. Friesen dominated the prelims and faced an unexpected challenge in the finals.

This time, Aleks Olesiak, a sophomore from Air Academy, was hot on Friesen's heels. They were shoulder-to-shoulder down the final length, and at first it looked like Friesen might have lost. She won by less than two-tenths of a second, touching in at 1:03.72.

"I tried to hold on as well as I could," Friesen said. "I am my own biggest critic, so even if it goes well in other people's eyes, I still have something that I wanted to go differently."

Friesen can criticize and analyze herself all she wants to when she gets to the University of Louisville in the fall. For the rest of the night, development was a secondary concern. Margins of victory were irrelevant. She savored every moment with her teammates, the last time they'll be a squad in the same pool.

"There isn't a better team in my eyes," Friesen said. "That's biased, obviously, but I couldn't have been luckier."

Then she dashed off, swimmer of the year trophy in hand, six state titles etched in stone. She had something else, too, given much more begrudgingly and just as hard to earn — her opponents' respect.

Cheyenne Mountain — which won the team title — set up behind the media table. After Friesen won the 100, and the public-address announcer bellowed her name through the loudspeakers, one of Cheyenne Mountain's swimmers remarked to no one in particular, and with a hint of admiration, "I hate it when he calls her name like that."

Team Scores — Cheyenne Mountain 308, Valor Christian 276, Evergreen 230, Heritage 227, Rampart 169, Windsor 125, Greeley West 28.

200-yard medley relay — WHS (Erin Eccleston, Morgan Friesen, Jocelyn Petersen, Hunter Waterman) 1:49.56; 200 individual medley — Friesen (WHS) 2:06.55, Elise Johnson (GWHS) 2:13.86; 1-meter diving — Makenna Sanger (WHS) 433.5; 500 freestyle — Josie Carpenter (GWHS) 5:13.54; 100 backstroke — Eccleston (WHS) 0:59.18; 100 breaststroke — Friesen (WHS) 1:03.72, Johnson (GWHS) 1:06.84; 400 freestyle relay — WHS (Eccleston, Rilea Driscoll, Waterman, Friesen) 3:40.27.