Columbia Falls Boys Claim First Swim Title

Colton Babcock won two individual trophies at the state swim meet last weekend

By Dillon Tabish
Swimmers dive into the pool during a combined Columbia Falls and Whitefish practice at The Wave in Whitefish. Beacon file photo

Colton Babcock and the Columbia Falls boys swim team made history over the weekend.

In only their second year as a program, the Wildcats captured the Class A/B state championship at the tournament in Great Falls. Columbia Falls scored 96 points to bring home its first championship trophy. Billings Central was second with 73 and Whitefish was third with 13.

Babcock won the boys 50 freestyle in 21.95 and the 100 freestyle in 46.91. Both were personal records in Montana competition for the junior.

The boys team trailed Billings Central by one point entering the final competition, the 400 freestyle relay. Columbia Falls — Babcock, Zayne Friar, Sage Wanner and Jacob Hohman — set a school record, taking third in 3:33.31. Only a pair of Class AA teams, Missoula Hellgate and Bozeman, beat Columbia Falls, a shining achievement that sealed the state title.

“These kids have worked hard all season and they passion is definitely there,” head coach Mike Nelson said. “All the hard work paid off.”

Friar also placed fifth in the 100 butterfly and eighth in the 200 freestyle. Hohman placed 12th in the 100 freestyle.

The Columbia Falls girls placed third (19 points) and Whitefish was fourth (12). Havre claimed the girls Class A title with 67 points and Billings Central was second, 43.

Columbia Falls’ Karyssa Nelson placed third in the 50 freestyle and eighth in the 100 backstroke. Ashley Caffrey placed 11th in the 50 freestyle.

In the Class AA ranks, Missoula Hellgate swept the boys and girls championships. The boys tallied 289 to win their third title in a row. Bozeman was second with 149 and Great Falls C.M. Russell was third, 116. Glacier placed eighth with 62 points. Flathead had four points.

Glacier’s Nate Burnham placed third in the 500 freestyle and fourth in the 200 freestyle and Anthony Clason placed third in the 100 breastroke and seventh in the 200 intermediate. The Wolfpack 400 freestyle relay team took fifth.

On the girls side, Missoula Hellgate similarly claimed its third consecutive championship, piling up 338 points. Bozeman was second with 214 and Great Falls C.M. Russell had 107. Glacier placed fifth with 90.5.

Glacier’s Olivia Gibson placed fourth in both the 100 butterfly and 50 freestyle. AJ Popp placed third in the 500 freestyle and fourth in the 200 intermediate. The Glacier 400 relay team — Popp, Gibson, Malea Bauer and Emma Hornby — took fourth and the 200 freestyle relay team — Popp, Gibson, Hornby and Lauren Harmon — took third.

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