Bayardo finishes as state swim runner-up

Raymundo Frasquillo File Photo/Gila Herald: Senior Taylee Bayardo finished fourth in the 100 backstroke during the state finals Nov. 3. She was also the state runner-up in the 100 freestyle. Her efforts landed Morenci 32 points for 21st of 32 teams.

By Raymundo Frasquillo

PARADISE VALLEY – In short, they try to get from point A to point B in the quickest possible time. They race against the clock, trying to better previous times in their event.

The biggest obstacle facing them is the reflection in the mirror, themselves. The next race is to better a previous time. The people in the other lanes help push them. It is good sportsmanship that they are individually thanked after the heat is over.

Raymundo Frasquillo File Photo/Gila Herald: Taylee Bayardo holds a lap indicator during a 400 freestyle race.

Senior Taylee Bayardo cemented her place in the annals of MHS sports history, placing second in the 100 freestyle with 53.48 and fourth in the 100 backstroke with 1:00.09. Her preliminary times were 54.85 (freestyle) and 1:00.23 (backstroke).

The 32 points Bayardo earned landed Morenci 21st of 33 teams, seventh of 13 from public schools. Phoenix Country Day School’s Dady Aquatic Center in Paradise Valley was the site of the two-day Division III state meet, which ended Nov. 3.

Her highest state meet finish was ninth (25.67) for the 50 freestyle and 10th (55.97) for the 100 freestyle during the Land of Enchantment finals in late February. She was part of the 20-member Rio Rancho Cleveland Storm last school year.

Bayardo’s “biggest supporters,” her mother Dana and father Luis, were on hand to share in her accomplishment.

Phoenix Country Day sophomore Quinn Murphy finished first in both the 100 freestyle (50.98) and 100 backstroke (54.90).

The rest of the top eight 100 freestyle finishers were Tucson Sabino senior Kaylin Farnum in third (54.10), Chandler Arizona College Prep senior Melanie Haas in fourth (54.30), PCDS’s Charlize Szeto in fifth (55.22), Chandler Seton Catholic junior Elise Jones in sixth (55.35), Scottsdale Saguaro sophomore Katie Sheldon in seventh (55.45), and Cottonwood Mingus Union senior Rylie Burke in eighth (56.43).

Raymundo Frasquillo File Photo/Gila Herald: Sophomore Savanna Titone works on her form during a recent practice session. She was one of four Wildcats who participated in two relays during the Southern Arizona Regional meet Oct. 27.

Other top eight 100 backstroke placers were Tucson Sabino junior Skylar Dikeman in second (56.19), Scottsdale Prep sophomore Tatum Good in third (1:00.05), Scottsdale Christian junior Autumn Peterson in fifth (1:01.67), Seton Catholic senior Emma Luken in sixth (1:01.95), Buckeye Odyssey Institute junior Cayman Webber in seventh (1:02.95), and Scottsdale Prep sophomore Emil Fingerman in eighth (1:03.45).

Bayardo was the school’s initial double event state swim meet qualifier. She clocked in with a season-best 1:01.17 effort in the 100 backstroke, edging out Division I Tucson Salpointe Catholic sophomore Alyssa Hernandez-Haddock (1:01.68). The Southern Arizona Regional state meet qualifier was held in the Oro Valley Aquatics Center Oct. 27.

It was not her career-best clocking by nearly a full second, but, “I was happy,” she said.

The first-year Morenci student-athlete was also second in the 100 freestyle with 55.95, behind Division I Tucson Canyon del Oro sophomore Kaylan Ottosen (54.63).

However, other than the time noted, there was no special award presentation. That did not prevent her from brandishing an ear-to-ear smile after finishing her heats.

Raymundo Frasquillo File Photo/Gila Herald: Freshman Zenayah Cortez swam a leg on two relays for Morenci at the final state qualifying meet.

The possibility of a swim program in Morenci was uncertain when Bayardo moved to Greenlee County with her family. She lunged feet first at the prospect to swim for the Wildcats when the program materialized.

“There has been an opportunity for team bonding, going from town to town on long bus rides to meets,” she said. “I feel cozy.”

She was touched when the team stood by her side while receiving a medal following an event during one of the meets.

Bayardo was pitted with other regional qualifiers for the state meet seeds. The top 24 times in each event were placed into three heats for preliminaries, and the top 16 from those were in two heats for the finals.

She was seeded third in the 100 backstroke, behind Murphy (56.87) and Dikeman (1:00.19), and fourth in the 100 freestyle behind Murphy (52.11), Hass (55.06), and Szeto (55.30) in Division III. Murphy was the 2017 state champion in both events and Dikeman second in the 100 backstroke.

How did she feel about her chances at the state meet? “It’s easier to cut time in distances than in sprints,” she said.

Raymundo Frasquillo File Photo/Gila Herald: Sophomore Jadah Cortez was a fourth member of Morenci’s two relay teams at the regional state qualifying meet.

Sabino finished first with 234 points, Scottsdale Prep second (205), Seton Catholic third (182), PCDS fourth (171), Saguaro fifth (158), Tucson Pusch Ridge Christian sixth (132), Scottsdale Christian seventh (113), Tucson Tanque Verde eighth (112.5), Arizona College Prep ninth (112), and both Anthem Prep and Gilbert Classical tied for 10th (103).

Mingus Union placed 12th (92), Phoenix Shadow Mountain 13th (50), Flagstaff Basis School 14th (48). Gilbert Arete Prep 15th (47), Queen Creek American Leadership and Phoenix Veritas Prep tied for 16th (45), Tucson’s The Gregory School 18th (37), and Apache Junction and Chandler Prep tied for 19th (35).

Fountain Hills was 22nd (31), Buckeye Odyssey Institute 23rd (19.5), Queen Creek Benjamin Franklin and San Manuel tied for 24th (18), Glendale Cactus 26th (16), Florence 27th (14), Phoenix Horizon Honors 28th (7), Phoenix Saint Mary’s 29th (5), and Flagstaff Northland Prep 30th (5).

Bullhead City Mohave was 31st (3), Sahuarita Waldon Grove 32nd (2), and Surprise Paradise Honors 33rd (1).

Southern Arizona Regional Qualifier

One individual plus two relay teams qualified to compete for the state meet during the Southern Arizona Regional Qualifying meet. A provisional time in an event during the season was the entrants’ criteria.

Bayardo, sophomores Savanna Titone and Jadah Cortez, and freshman Zenayah Cortez finished 11 of 23 in the 200 freestyle relay (1:57.67) and 13 of 21 in the 200 medley relay (2:16.42).

Tucson Cienega’s quartet of junior Sarah Stubblefield, sophomore Brooke Derivan, senior Kendra Pinegar, and junior Tori Dabner was first in the 200 freestyle relay (1:43.87). The CDO foursome of Ottosen, junior Claire Brady, sophomore Tabitha Kellam, and sophomore Graciela Marcial won the 200 medley relay with 1:55.39.

“They were all nervous before the meet,” said first-year Morenci head coach Eric Waananen.