FORT COLLINS - The season had barely ended with the conclusion of the 4A state girls' swimming and diving meet at Edora Pool Ice Center, but that didn't stop Cheyenne Mountain junior Rhyann Lowrey from smiling big while thinking about the future.
On one hand, Lowrey looked back on her personal success, as well as her team's, as she posted a pair of third-place finishes in helping the Indians place third overall.
Then there was a bit of determination in her voice since Cheyenne Mountain didn't repeat as runner-up in the team race.
"It was just so fun to be here, but I'm really looking forward to improving on my own times to help the team," said Lowrey, who stood on the podium in third after the 200 freestyle and 500 freestyle Saturday. "Our team is looking good for next year. It's going to be a challenge, but I'm excited and ready to get started."
In addition to Lowrey, the Indians also had underclassmen Katie Liebscher, Maggie York, Caroline Stieglitz and Rachel Leach in the top 16 to experience the atmosphere of swimming in the final day of the state meet. Their crowning jewel was senior Sydney Buckley's third consecutive state championship in the 100 butterfly, finishing in 55.85 seconds, 0.52 seconds better than D'Evelyn's Brenna Bushey.
While Cheyenne Mountain continued its trend of top finishes in the state - the Indians also placed third and fourth in 2012 and 2011, respectively - an emerging program in Manitou Springs hopes to create such a legacy.
The Mustangs made quite a statement Saturday.
Competing with just a handful of swimmers - only four qualified in individual events - Manitou made its quality count, accumulating 135 points en route to a sixth-place finish, a far cry from placing 17th just a year ago.
Sophomore Veronica Morin finished third in both the 50 and 100 freestyle races, while its 200-medley relay squad came in second to Evergreen.
Emily Dolloff-Holt, a freshman, finished fifth in the 200 individual medley, while Samantha White, a sophomore, reached both the 50 free and 100 breaststroke consolation finals. Kethrys Buffa, another freshman, barely missed qualifying in the 100 butterfly and was second alternate.
"It's incredible to see where we're ranked," Morin said. "Even though today wasn't my best day, I still have two more years. Our team will get bigger, but with a small team, we really appreciate what every single person does. I know we'll only get stronger from here."
Evergreen claimed the team title with 322.5 points, while Thompson Valley, which had won the previous four crowns, finished with 244. Cheyenne Mountain had 233.5, followed by D'Evelyn (208) and Valor Christian (143).