SHERIDAN — 4A swim coach of the year Brent Moore quickly deflected recognition back onto his team.
“We walked past them and told them this (coach of the year) stuff is because they worked their tails off this season,” the third-year Sheridan High School swim coach explained.
“They sure make us look good.”
SHS swimming and diving coaches swept 4A honors this fall. Following the Lady Broncs third-place finish at the 4A Girls State Swim Meet over the weekend, head coach Brent Moore was named coach of the year and Jory Turk was named assistant of the year.
Moore began working with swim clubs when he was 15 and still in high school, he swam and played water polo in high school and college. Coaching in Colorado and California, spending most of his time in Fort Collins, now passing on dedication to young swimmers in Sheridan.
Turk comes from a swimming and water polo background as well, and, like many assistant coaches, plays an understated but important role.
“He’s one of the best assets we had,” Moore said of Turk Tuesday. “He does a great job running our dry-land work. Those girls gained so much strength and confidence this year because of the help he gave them out of the water.”
Turk works with the team in cross-training strength programs that build explosive movement and core strength — a training aspect Moore called a part of any successful program.
The Lady Broncs came into the season with lofty expectations, looking to move up further into the top half of the state. They took third Saturday, edging out Laramie.
Hard work realized is the most satisfying thing for any coach.
“I think the biggest thing is just the maturity the group showed going into the state meet,” Moore said of the best part of his job.
“The way they were able to handle the pressure and show up and be at their best when it mattered.”
Moore’s philosophy is that a successful swimmer requires growth over a longer period than just a 10-week season. Year-round competition not only builds the skills and ability to compete, but the familiarity with stress of the moment.
“The experience they gain in a competitive setting helps them handle the pressure of a state meet,” he said. “They’ve raced against girls of that caliber throughout the year, not just one or two meets a season.”
Big schools like Gillette are hard to contend with, but Sheridan’s youth swim clubs are steady and Moore hopes that they can eventually boost participation in order to upend squads like the Lady Camels from the top spot.
“We’re graduating two-thirds of our points, but with the club the way it’s grown I think we can sustain a top-three spot and give the teams something to look out for every year,” Moore said. The Lady Camels 280 team points were still well ahead of the field Saturday. Sheridan finished with 187.
“I think we could do it here,” Moore said of a prospective team title. “We just need to build our numbers still, we have a handful of girls who scored the majority of our points, if we could get four or five more that would be great.”
All-State swimmer Mackenzie Dougherty is just a sophomore and she leads a handful of young up and comers.
Of course, this year’s contributors will be missed. Gretchen Dougherty and Emily Speigelberg graduate as multiple year All-State swimmers.
Senior Payton Brilz was less than two-tenths of a second from a title in the 500-free, finishing runner-up Saturday, finishing second in the 200-free as well.
“All four of them, they offer a lot of leadership,” Moore said of the All-Staters.
“I’ve never seen a group show up to race in a championship like that. In that (200) medley race, Gillette beat us out in conference (the week before), but we were two seconds ahead of everybody all weekend.
The Lady Broncs swam two seconds faster than Gillette in both the prelims and finals of the 200-medley at state — a race this year which they not only broke a school record held since 1999 earlier this fall, but broke that mark again Saturday.
“I was just impressed with their maturity to handle that situation,” Moore added.
It’s been 10 years since the Lady Broncs had a state winner and even longer since they broke into the team scores as high as third.
They had two state champs Saturday, with Speigelberg taking the 100-backstroke, and the 200-medley relay team of Speigelberg, Brilz and the Dougherty sisters.
Breaking three school records this fall, the team progressed as the year went on.
“Having that internal drive,” Moore said of what it takes to stay dedicated and finish a season strong like the girls did this year. “This group of kids always wants to be their best. They’re not content with settling for mediocrity,” he added.
“They’ve been raised where they’re not going to give less.”
SHS at 4A state swim meet
2. Payton Brilz 2:01.18
19. Rachel Stevens (Sr.) 2:19.96
4. Mackenzie Dougherty (Soph.) 2:22.52
12. Laurel Fosnight (Sr.) 2:27.89
6. Emily Spiegelberg 25.83
13. Katie Beardslee (Soph.) 26.66
Girls 1-meter diving
8. Whitney Migrants (Fr.) 337.00
14. Brielle Smiley (Jr.)
2. G. Dougherty 1:02.21
3. M. Dougherty 1:03.39
9. Laurel Fosnight 1:05.20
17. Cassandra Robinson (Jr.) 1:08.10
1. Spiegelberg 58.72
2. G. Dougherty 1:07.54
8. Raien Emery 1:16.82
3. SHS (Brilz, Beardslee, Fosnight, Spiegelberg) 3:50.62
7. SHS (G. Dougherty, Beardlsee, Fosnight, Dougherty) 1:46.89
11. Beardslee 58.29
2. Brilz 5:25.13
14. Stevens 6:14.82