“What’s been great is that they’re improving from week to week,” Stamp said of her team’s strong showing so far in 2017-18. “Heading into our final stretch here, they’re training hard, working hard, and getting good times, so when we pull back at the end, hopefully exciting things will happen.”

Niwot’s push towards the post-season began in earnest at the Mountain View Invitational, held Jan. 6 at the Mountain View Aquatic Center in Loveland. Behind standout performances from Irwin and freshman Emiley Yie, Niwot scored 225 points to take fifth place overall out of a 15 team-field.

Irwin took the top spot in the 200 individual medley, with a time of two minutes, 15.43 seconds. The sophomore was more than two seconds faster than second-place finisher Emma Svendsen of Longmont (2:17.69), and nearly nine seconds faster than the Class 4A state-qualifying threshold (2:26.00). She also took second in the 100 butterfly, with a state qualifying time of 59.60, and was on the third-place 200 medley (1:57.81) and 400 freestyle (3:54.24) relay squads.

Since returning to the lineup at the Coaches’ Invite on Dec. 16, Irwin has qualified to compete at state in five individual events, including the 500-yard freestyle, which she won against Thompson Valley on Jan. 11 with at time of 5:29.16. She is also state-qualified in the 100 backstroke and 50 freestyle.

Meanwhile, freshman Yie has emerged as one of the up-and-coming swimmers in the area, posting a first-place finish in the 200 freestyle at Mountain View (1:59.85), followed by a second-place showing in the 500 freestyle (5:22.63), both of which were state-qualifying times. The ninth-grader also swam a leg of Niwot’s 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays.

Overall, Yie has qualified for State in six individual events (200 freestyle, 200 individual medley, 50 freestyle, 100 butterfly, 500 freestyle, 100 breaststroke), and is a top competitor for the Cougars. In Niwot’s narrow loss to Thompson Valley on Jan. 11, Yie won two events (200 IM, 100 butterfly), and was again on the winning 200 medley and 400 freestyle relay teams. Two days later at the VMAC for the Mustang Invite, which attracted more than 400 swimmers from 21 schools, Yie took 12th in the 100 butterfly (1:02.81), and 17th in the 100 breaststroke (1:13.57), helping Niwot to a ninth-place finish in the team standings.

Niwot’s novice divers, freshman Halie Ostrom and sophomore Amber Nusser, made their season debut at the Thompson Valley dual, much earlier than Stamp expected. Though it will likely be next season before the two are ready for full competition, Stamp is thrilled with their progress so far.

“I was delighted, because I didn’t think we’d get them in the pool at all this season,” she said. “We pushed them, and they got ready, and I’m super proud.”

With just over three weeks remaining in the season, the Cougars have all three relays and at least one individual qualified for State in all swim events. Yie’s freshman teammate Lucca Fulkerson made the cut for the 100 breaststroke at Niwot’s dual at Thompson Valley on Jan. 11, after earlier qualifying in the 100 butterfly and the 200 individual medley.

Like Irwin, sophomore Shaw has qualifying times in five individual events, including the 100 freestyle, which she earned at the Mustang Invite with a time of 56.28, which was good for fourth overall. She is also eligible for State in the 200 freestyle, 50 freestyle, 100 butterfly, and 100 backstroke. Other state-bound Cougars include juniors Izzie Mitchell (50 freestyle), Jill Stephenson (50 freestyle), Ella Thramann (50 freestyle) Kristi Vu (50 freestyle), Claire Jepson (50 freestyle, 100 backstroke), and Hanna Luo (200 freestyle, 200 individual medley, 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle).

Though having a full-slate of state-eligible swimmers bodes well for Niwot’s postseason prospects, Stamp was hesitant to look too far ahead.

“We’ve still got a couple of duals left, and, of course, All-City” she said. “Last year, we lost by one point, so hopefully we can be competitive.” At the 2017 meet between the four Longmont-area teams, Niwot nearly upset top-ranked Silver Creek, coming in second with 427 team points to the Raptors’ 428. “We haven’t shifted our focus to state yet,” Stamp said.

Niwot heads to Windsor for a head-to-head on Jan. 16, followed by the All City Meet at Longmont’s Centennial Pool on Jan. 20.

(1/6) — Mt.View Invite, Mt. View Aquatic Center, Loveland

Team Scores — 1. Cherry Creek 444.5; 2. Windsor 298; 3. Thompson Valley 268.5; 4. Fossil Ridge 254; 5. Niwot 225; 6. Chatfield 178; 7. Silver Creek 175; 8. Longmont 167; 9. Fort Collins 154; 10. Estes Park 67; 11. Mountain View 54; 12. Arapahoe Warriors 39; 13. Eaton 1

200 Medley Relay — 3. Niwot (Luthens, Sesselman, Irwin, Yie), 1:57.81*

200 Freestyle — 1. Emiley Yie, 1:59.65*; 10. Amalia Luthens, 2:10.88; 12. Claire Jepson, 2:11.91

200 IM — 1. Payten Irwin, 2:15.43*

50 Freestyle — 6. Kristi Vu, 25.95*; 14. Izzie Mitchell, 27.07

100 Butterfly — 2. Payten Irwin, 1:23.38*

100 Freestyle — 12. Kristi Vu, 59.05; 18. Claire Jepson, 1:00.14

500 Freestyle — 2. Emiley Yie, 5:22.63 25. Otte, 6:40.11

200 Freestyle Relay — 3. Niwot (Thramann, Mitchell, Jepson, Vu) 1: 47.21*

100 Backstroke — 15. Bui, 1:11.08

100 Breaststroke — 8. Sesselman, 1:17.15

400 Freestyle Relay — 3. Niwot (Yie, Jepson, Luthens, Irwin), 3:54.24*

1/11 —Thompson Valley 161, Niwot 152

200 Medley Relay — 1. Niwot (Luthens, Sesselman, Irwin, Yie) 1:56.97*; 2. Niwot (Jepson, Fulkerson, Luo, Thramann) 1:58.82*;

200 Freestyle — 1. Abbie Shaw, 2:02.66*; Hanna Luo, 2:07.62*; 5. Amalia Luthens, 2:13.45

200 IM — 1. Emiley Yie, 2:15.52*; 5. Natalie Sesselman, 2:34.17

50 Freestyle — 2. Mitchell, 27.02; 4. Thramann, 27.62; 6. Stephenson, 27.86

Diving, 6 Dives — 5. Halie Ostrom, 141.01; 6. Amber Nusser, 126.23

100 Butterfly — 1. Emiley Yie, 1:03.42*; 2. Abbie Shaw, 1:03.73*; 5. Luthens, 1:14.36

100 Freestyle — 3. Claire Jepson, 59.39; 5. Izzie Mitchell, 1:00.86

500 Freestyle — 1. Payten Irwin, 5:29.16*; 2. Hanna Luo, 5:54.34

200 Freestyle Relay — 2. Niwot (Mitchell, Stephenson, Vu, Shaw) 1:47.19*; 4. Niwot (Thramann, Luthens, Yao, Sesselmann), 1:53.66

100 Backstroke — 1. Payten Irwin, 1:02.93*; 2. Claire Jepson, 1:06.34; 5. Stacey Bui, 1:14.48

100 Breaststroke — 2. Lucca Fulkerson, 1:14.31*; 4. Kristi Vu, 1:18.06

400 Freestyle Relay — 1. Niwot (Shaw, Luo, Yie, Irwin), 3:46.81*; 4. Niwot (Fulkerson, Vu, Stephenson, Jepson), 4:13.17

 (1/13) — Mustang Invite, VMAC, Thornton

Team Scores —1. Legacy 267, 2. Monarch 208, 3. Fairview 198, 4. Rocky Mountain 190, 5. Horizon 189, 6. Longmont 148, 7. Windsor 145, 8. Silver Creek 120, 9. Niwot 118, 10. Broomfield 114, 11. Pine Creek 113.5, 12. Air Academy 112, 13. Thompson Valley 96, 14. Mountain Range 91, 15. Poudre 81, 16. Brighton 42, 17. Thomas Jefferson 39, 18. Green Mountain 17, 18. Fort Collins 17, 20. Centaurus 13.5, 21. Northglenn Thornton 6

200 Medley Relay — 6. Niwot A (Shaw, Yie, Irwin, Vu), 1:54.77*

200 Freestyle — 8. Hanna Luo, 2:05.75*

200 IM — 5. Payten Irwin, 2:15.72*

50 Freestyle — 10. Payten Irwin, 25.66*, 22. Ella Thramann, 26.47*, 29. Kristi Vu, 26.61*

100 Butterfly — 9. Abbie Shaw, 1:01.93*; 12. Emiley Yie, 1:02.81*

100 Freestyle — 4. Abbie Shaw, 56.28*; 18. Clare Jepson, 59.42; 25. Kristi Vu, 1:00.15

500 Freestyle — 46. Sophie Chivers, 7:01.73

200 Freestyle Relay — 4. Niwot A (Mitchell, Luo, Vu, Yie), 1:42.86*; 17. Niwot B (Thramann, Stephenson, Jepson, Sesselmann), 1:49.87*

100 Backstroke — 25. Claire Jepson, 1:06.39

100 Breaststroke — 17. Emiley Yie, 1:13.57*; 19. Hanna Luo, 1:14.15

1/11 —Thompson Valley 161, Niwot 152

200 Medley Relay — 1. Niwot (Luthens, Sesselman, Irwin, Yie) 1:56.97*; 2. Niwot (Jepson, Fulkerson, Luo, Thramann) 1:58.82*;

200 Freestyle — 1. Abbie Shaw, 2:02.66*; Hanna Luo, 2:07.62*; 5. Amalia Luthens, 2:13.45

200 IM — 1. Emiley Yie, 2:15.52*; 5. Natalie Sesselman, 2:34.17

50 Freestyle — 2. Mitchell, 27.02; 4. Thramann, 27.62; 6. Stephenson, 27.86

Diving, 6 Dives — 5. Halie Ostrom, 141.01; 6. Amber Nusser, 126.23

100 Butterfly — 1. Emiley Yie, 1:03.42*; 2. Abbie Shaw, 1:03.73*; 5. Luthens, 1:14.36

100 Freestyle — 3. Claire Jepson, 59.39; 5. Izzie Mitchell, 1:00.86

500 Freestyle — 1. Payten Irwin, 5:29.16*; 2. Hanna Luo, 5:54.34

200 Freestyle Relay — 2. Niwot (Mitchell, Stephenson, Vu, Shaw) 1:47.19*; 4. Niwot (Thramann, Luthens, Yao, Sesselmann), 1:53.66

100 Backstroke — 1. Payten Irwin, 1:02.93*; 2. Claire Jepson, 1:06.34; 5. Stacey Bui, 1:14.48

100 Breaststroke — 2. Lucca Fulkerson, 1:14.31*; 4. Kristi Vu, 1:18.06

400 Freestyle Relay — 1. Niwot (Shaw, Luo, Yie, Irwin), 3:46.81*; 4. Niwot (Fulkerson, Vu, Stephenson, Jepson), 4:13.17

*State-qualifying time