Julia TenNapel’s goal of going to the state tournament as a freshman was in doubt last month after a spinal cord injury threatened to ruin her mission
Following the Montrose girls swim team’s home meet last month, TenNapel experienced pain in her back. She went to the chiropractor where she learned two ribs were out of place and her spine was out of alignment.
TenNapel still tried to give practice a go following the appointment but had to cut it short in the end. With the possibility of missing time, TenNapel had a few follow-up visits with the chiropractor where the pain finally subsided, leading to zero pain at practice.
The freshman didn’t miss a single competition as a result.
Now she’s heading to the state tournament.
On Friday, in Montrose’s first meet of the new year — the Lady Indians’ two-day home competition — TenNapel made a state cut in the 200-yard IM with a time of 2:22.06.
She needed at least 2:26.00 to punch her ticket to state.
“It feels really good to come back and be four seconds faster than the last time I swam that (event),” TenNapel said. “It’s really exciting.”
Achieving that at home made the achievement all the sweeter.
Following the event, TenNapel was greeted by her father before receiving hugs and high-fives from her teammates and ending the celebration with a photo with head coach Ellen Erickson.
Erickson said her swimmers’ time was all the more significant, considering TenNapel’s previous best time was .86 milliseconds off the state cut.
“There was some concern there,” Erickson said, referring to TenNapel’s injury. “But she did (qualified) with an even faster time. That’s just going to help her confidence grow.”
TenNapel is the first Lady Indians swimmer to qualify for the final tournament of the year. But she and the rest of the team had more chances to go as well during the home meet.
(See the full results from the competition in Montrose Daily Press’ Tuesday edition.)
Montrose held its home tourney Friday and Saturday at the Community Recreation Center. The Lady Indians welcomed in Grand Junction, Fruita Monument, Durango, Pagosa Springs, Gunnison, Moffat County, Delta and Sargent over those two days.
The final school is new to Montrose as it comes out of Monte Vista.
Erickson said she invited the team after seeing the swimmers compete at a meet earlier this season. This gives her athletes a chance to battle against another program, which is quite good, and one that they see too much of, she added.
TenNapel wasn’t the only Montrose swimmer to set a new personal-best time during day one of the home competition.
Erickson said she was thrilled to see senior Natalee Luis break 27 seconds in the 50-yard freestyle after coming up short a few times.
The Montrose coach added when her swimmers see a teammate qualify for state or achieve a personal-best time, they maintain that same level of enthusiasm.
“They all get excited when each other does better,” Erickson said. “It’s a great group of girls.”
TenNapel agreed and credited her success Friday to her teammates and coaches having encouraged her comeback.
“It means a whole lot having my whole team cheering me on. … It’s been a very cool bonding experience,” she said.