THORNTON — Cheyenne Mountain claimed back-to-back Class 4A boys swimming championships with their first-place, 358-point finish on Saturday.
They gained the lead early, totaling 100 points by the end of the fourth event, and putting a 35-point margin between them and their opponents.
Last season, Cheyenne Mountain's win was led by sophomore Daniel Carr, who broke two state records. This year, the reigning champions were without Carr, but Brayden Love, Kyle Leach and other teammates stepped up.
Love finished first in the 100-yard breaststroke and second in the 100-yard butterfly. The junior also swam the third leg of the 200-yard medley relay, the first race of the night and their first of eight podium finishes. The champions finished second to Air Academy in the 200-yard freestyle relay.
"We work so hard for what we want," Love said. "Both years we have been neck-and-neck with the other teams and it drives us to improve in practice everyday."
Valor Christian took second place, a position they were bumped into via the diving portion, where freshman Casey Fellows finished first with a score of 530.30.
"It was really exciting, but it was still stressful, " Fellows said of his first high school finals, "I felt a lot of pressure."
Fellows may be at freshman at Valor but he is no novice to the sport. He began diving when he was six.
Valor landed on the podium in all three relays, further securing their second-place team finish.
Air Academy senior Tommy Baker swam just like he did in the prelims, capturing two first-place finishes in the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle. His 100-yard time of 44.70 earned him an auto All-American honor. Last year, Baker finished third in the same race. Bundy, who missed the podium last year, finished second.
Caleb Hicks finished first for the second year in a row in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 49.19, breaking his own record set last season and making the All-American cut. Cheyenne Mountain sophomore Kyle Leach earned the same accolade in the 200-yard freestyle.
Liam Gately also had the repeat first-place finish and All-American time in his main event, the 500-yard freestyle. The Thompson Valley junior finished second in the 200-yard freestyle and helped his team tie for third place. They shared the podium with Air Academy, as both teams carried 224 total points.
In the 200-yard freestyle relay, Silver Creek finished right behind Air Academy, but a false-start disqualified the team, bumping Cheyenne to second and bumping Valor into the final podium spot.
Silver Creek senior Sam Willette won both the 200-yard IM and the 100-yard backstroke.
"It is more than a personal feeling for me, it's knowing that I did that because of my team," Willette said of his dual victories. "There is no way that I would have placed first in both of those if my whole team wasn't standing on those bleachers cheering me on."
The finals concluded with Cheyenne just edging Air Academy in 400-yard freestyle relay, the race they set the record for last year.