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Mena tries to put Mesa Ridge on swimming map by reaching consolation final

February 16, 2014 Updated: February 16, 2014 at 12:55 am
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photo - Mesa Ridge's Carmen Mena swims in the 500-yard freestyle Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, during the State Girls 4A swimming finals at the Edora Pool Ice Center in Fort Collins, Colo.   (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)
Mesa Ridge's Carmen Mena swims in the 500-yard freestyle Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, during the State Girls 4A swimming finals at the Edora Pool Ice Center in Fort Collins, Colo. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock) 

FORT COLLINS - She made it back, which is more than Carmen Mena, or any individual swimmer at Mesa Ridge, had done in a long time.

Now, the Grizzlies junior hopes her journey at the 4A state girls' swimming meet can give other prospective swimmers in Widefield hope.

"I'm trying to convince a couple of friends to give it a shot and really commit to it," Mena said. "Hopefully, they'll see what can happen when you work at it."

Mena, who qualified for state in the 200 individual medley and 500 freestyle, also helped two relay teams into the preliminaries. Last year, the 200 freestyle relay achieved a state-qualifying time, the Grizzlies' first entry into a swimming event at state in nearly a decade.

Her time Friday in the 500 ranked 15th, which meant she got to compete in the consolation finals Saturday.

"I didn't sleep too well and did a lot of tossing and turning," Mena said. "I was ready to swim. I was really happy I made it back and got a chance to swim again."

Although she finished seventh Saturday, Mena's coach, Melissa Knutson, made sure to look at the body of work rather than just one race.

"I know she's walking away a little disappointed, but it's one swim," Knutson said. "It's definitely an accomplishment to make it back, and she has one more year to improve on what she's already done."

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