FORT COLLINS – Doherty senior Sarah James has shown club teammate and Lewis-Palmer freshman Andie Turner more than a pool’s worth of knowledge during the past couple of years.
But now, James knows Turner stands in the way of the thing that has eluded her throughout her high school career – a state title.
“I won’t let anything get in the way,” James said “This is my dream.”
Friday at the 5A state preliminaries, Turner of Lewis-Palmer took first in the 100 backstroke in 56.71, followed by James, who took second in 56.93.
“Andie is amazing. I mean she beat her (100) backstroke time by a whole (1) second today,” James said. “I know she is going to be great and I’m so happy for her. But yes, I do want a state title in backstroke. I’ve always wanted to be a state champ. I’ve wanted that throughout high school.”
Up to now, Olympian Missy Franklin has been the one standing in her way. The Regis Jesuit superstar won the past two state titles in the backstroke. James took fifth in 2011, before she finished second at state last season.
This season, James took one step closer to the elusive title when she found out four-time gold medalist Franklin decided not to race in the backstroke at this season’s state meet.
“It was great coming in second to an Olympian, but I was so happy when I heard she wasn’t racing,” James said. “(On Wednesday) I just kept refreshing the CHSAA page, waiting to see if she had dropped out. And when I saw she did, I ran out of the classroom and ran to find (Doherty) coach (Sarah Hart) – and I was like ‘ahhhh.’”
Now, James knows Saturday is her last shot -- and the rest of the field, won’t give it to her.
Turner reminded James of that after the event.
“I told (James) to race me really hard tomorrow. To race me out-of-her mind tomorrow,” said Turner, who hasn’t usually beaten James over the past 2½ years in club. “I told her let’s take first and second.”
Out of the rest of the field, Mountain Range’s Shelly Drozda, Regis Jesuit’s Lindsay Painton and Loveland’s Naomi Einhellig came within 1 second of the two area swimmers.
But James said it’s her turn.
“I am ready,” she said, “I’ve worked for this for a long time. I’m ready.”
The finals start Saturday at 4 p.m. in Fort Collins.