Sawyer leads tenacious Tigers to state
FARMER’S KORNER – There’s a reason the Summit High School boys swimming team has qualified for five events at the 4A state championships instead of its customary one. That reason is Thomas Sawyer.Sawyer made the most of his freshman swimming season by qualifying for state in the 200-yard individual medley, the 100 breaststroke and the 100 butterfly. The overachieving youngster is also part of the 400 free relay and 200 medley relay teams that will compete today in Fort Collins. He has been forced to opt out of the 100 breast due to the competition’s four-event limit.Clearly, Sawyer’s impact has made some waves, but how was he able to pull off such a stunning rookie campaign for the Tigers?”Thomas has the whole package,” Summit coach Mike Rathgeber said. “He has a strong cardiovascular system, he’s physically mature and he has good stroke mechanics.”Sawyer’s work ethic and tenacity have also been an important factor in his success.”He works hard and he doesn’t back down,” Rathgeber said. “He’s not afraid to get in the water with anybody and race them.” Senior captain Josh Gammel has had many teammates during his four years with the Tigers. It didn’t take him long to realize that Sawyer, a Junior Olympian in Nordic skiing, was a welcome addition to the squad.
“He obviously brings speed and talent,” Gammel said. “But he’s also a really cool kid. He’s fun to hang out with and he seems to fit in with the persona of the team.”Gammel plans to keep on eye on Sawyer’s future development.”I look forward to seeing what he can do the next few years,” he said. “I’ll be coming back to watch.”Gammel will be commuting from Metro State College in Denver when he comes to support the Tigers.The seven-time state qualifier (four in 400 free relay, three in 200 medley relay) has been offered the opportunity to try out as a walk-on with the Division II Roadrunners.”I’m excited to see what I’m capable of with higher training and stroke technique,” he said. “It should be fun. I really can’t wait.”
“I think Metro State will be a great fit for Josh,” Rathgeber said. “Given his commitment, he’ll do what he needs to do to be successful there, no doubt about it. … But he’s got his work cut out for him. It’s a tough transition when you go from one of the top dogs as a high school senior to somebody that has to fight for a spot.”Gammel will once again lead two relay teams into today’s preliminaries. He will be accompanied in both events by Sawyer, Andrew Marshall and co-captain Marshall Snead. Wil Snead, who swam with the 400 relay team when it qualified for state, and Justin Skall will serve as alternates for the Tigers. There’s a chance Marshall Snead may have to call on one of them.”I’m taking an International Baccalaureate Chemistry exam at 5:30 in the morning,” Snead said. “For some reason, there’s no make-up date for the test and there’s a set time frame we have to take it in. After it’s over, my dad’s going to drive me and we’re going to book it down there.”Snead will be scrambling to make it to the 200 medley relay, which begins at 9 a.m. The 400 relay won’t pose such a time crunch for Snead as it is scheduled for later in the day. Last year at this time, the Tigers’ 400 relay team, which included Marshall Snead as well as Gammel, took 17th place at preliminaries – narrowly leaving them on the outside looking in at Saturday’s finals.
“We missed it by one spot,” Snead said. “But we have a lot more talent this year. And a lot more skill.”Like Snead, Rathgeber is optimistic.”This team has the heart of a lion,” Rathgeber said. “You never can tell what they’re going to do because there’s no back down, no retreat, no nothin’. They just swim hard and they swim up to whatever level they have to. Knowing that, I’m looking forward to the weekend.”Adam Boffey can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 13631, or at email@example.com.
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