State Splash: Glenrock, Douglas swimmers solidify fantastic season at state

Glenrock High School swimmer Izabelle Zimmerman, who competes with Douglas, makes big waves at the 3A state championship meet in Gillette freestyling. She went on to make the podium as she captured third place in the 100-yard freestyle. (Courtesy photo)

RJ Morgan, sports editor

Small but mighty. That best describes the Douglas High School girls’ swim and dive team as it fields one of the smallest 3A squads but consistently produces state talent as evident in its 12 state qualifiers this season.

Among the dozen Bearcats taking on state waters Nov. 3-4 in Gillette, none were mightier than Payton Yost. Qualifying for state is nothing new for the senior and she made sure her last one was the best one as she won the state championship in the 100-yard breaststroke.

Yost not only led DHS to a fifth-place finish out of 14 programs, but she also broke her fourth school record in eight days. The record fell in her golden swim where she touched the wall in a time of 1 minute, 8.53 seconds.

“Before my finals race, I went over to my parents and watched the video they had taken of my prelims swim. I was watching my turns, start and turnover rate in my stroke. At the end of the day, all I wanted was a PR in my swim,” Yost said. “Words cannot describe how grateful I am for the amazing teams I have had the honor of swimming for.”

“From my first meet as a 7-year-old to this last state swim, I have always had my teammates and coaches in my corner. The entire Douglas community has also been so incredibly supportive of the team, they help us fund raise for the trips and even cook us team dinners. Being able to stand on the top of the podium at state felt like I was representing all the hard work everyone had put in. I didn’t win for myself, I won for my team and community. That’s what it means to me.”

That wasn’t Yosts’ only trip to the podium. She was also stunning in the 100 butterfly where she captured third place when she clocked a 1:00.62 which also broke the school record during the prelims.

Yost has left her mark on DHS forever. She offers a small bit of advice for those who will one day pick up where she is leaving off.  

“Celebrate the little wins because at the end of the day those little wins make the big ones much more worth it,” she said.

There were many big time performances among the Douglas roster. The 200 freestyle relay quartet of Abby Dykes, Dani Shoemake, Hailey Richards and Izabelle Zimmerman were seeded fourth and swam their hearts out to finish their season third at state in a PR time of 1:46.37.

Douglas broke three school records at state, one of which was in the 400 freestyle relay. The foursome of Izabelle Zimmerman, Shoemake, Lythgoe, and Yost set the new mark during prelims where they came through at 1:55.39.

Podium or not, all 12 Bearcats earned the praises of DHS head coach Stacy Wood for their efforts and all season in qualifying in 65 total events from which to choose.

“We have had an incredible year. Swimming is a long season and you spend so much time with each other that it’s easy to get worn out, but these girls are a family,” Wood said. “They laugh together, cry together and feel each other’s successes and failures. I feel like that was our biggest strength this season . . . the girls were in it together.”

The incredible year also included a state podium run in the 200 medley relay. Yost (breaststroke) was back at it as she joined Hayden Lythgoe (backstroke), Kendel Engelker (butterfly) and Hailey Richards (freestyle) to swim away with third place at 1:56:91

Engelker also swam hard in the 500 freestyle where she notched her best time of the year at 5:50:53 to take seventh at state.

The Converse County girls unleashed a pair of stunning performances in the 100 freestyle from Glenrock teammates Izabelle Zimmerman and Lythgoe. To qualify for state, swimmers had to swim a 1:04:94 but to be top 12 in the state they must swim under 59 seconds. The duo did exactly that when Izabelle Zimmerman earned third place with a time of 56:87. Lythgoe took 10th at 58:95.

Douglas also had two pool sharks finish among the best in 50 freestyle. Izabelle Zimmerman and Hailey Richards swam the fastest event of the day with hundreds of seconds splitting third place (Izabelle Zimmerman, 25.78) and 10th (Richards, 26.46).

In the 100 backstroke, there was plenty of blue taking on the elite where Abby Dykes, Richards and Lythgoe advanced to the finals. Lythgoe was impressive in finishing fifth in the finals with a time of 1:04.38; Richards was 10th in consolation finals at 1:06.91 and Dykes one spot back at 1:06.99.

Other team members qualifying for the 3A meet and cutting times to keep their spots among the fastest in the state were Meadow Winslow (200 and 100 Free), Riley Cook (50 and 100 free), Jenelle Zimmerman (200 I.M. and 100 butterfly), Josephine Mathis (50 and 100 free) and Madison Renstrom (500 free).

“Our seniors are a special group; talented athletes, great leaders, tremendous people.  You can’t replace kids like Kendal Engelker, Dani Shoemake, Hailey Richards, Jenelle Zimmerman, Izabelle Zimmerman, Meadow Winslow and Payton Yost.  A group that is talented in and out of the pool doesn’t come around very often,” coach Wood said. “Coach Falkenburg and I are so proud of these girls, their accomplishments and the careers they’ve had. My only hope is that their legacy and traditions continue with our younger swimmers that got to learn from and compete alongside them. State was bittersweet because it was our last ride together, but in their usual fashion – they made it the most memorable yet.”


Glenrock Independent

Physical Address:506 W. Birch, Glenrock, WY 82637 Mailing Address: PO Box 109, Douglas, WY 82633 Phone: (307) 436-2211

The Glenrock Independent is located in the Bronco Building

Office hours: Monday, Wednesday, Friday - 10:00 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday - 9:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Subscriber Login