THORNTON — Fossil Ridge found itself in a familiar position following Saturday's Class 5A boys swimming and diving state championships — crowding as many SaberCats as possible on top of the podium after clinching the team championship for the third straight year.
The SaberCats started the afternoon strong by taking first in the 200-yard medley relay with a time of 1:30.69, the second-best mark in state history.
They continued their strong showing from there, with victories in the 200 and 400-yard freestyle relays, as well as strong individual performances from Shamzi Alkaff (second in the 50-yard freestyle), Matt Geraghty (third), Josh Pales (third in the 100-yard breaststroke), and Danny Kovac (second in the 100-yard backstroke and 100-yard butterfly).
“Compared to where I thought we were going to be going in to the year this is an amazing accomplishment,” said a soaking wet Fossil Ridge coach Mark Morehouse after a victory leap in the pool with his team. “They were as motivated a group over a long period of time as I’ve ever seen.
“We talk all the time that you win championships in prelims. If you seem fast enough in prelims you can put the meet away, and if you don’t swim fast in prelims you don’t even have a chance. So, we swam out of our minds last night. I could go down the list, but really every kid on our team had a phenomenal swim.”
Regis Jesuit finished in second for the third straight year. Cherry Creek finished third.
As expected, senior Michael Zarian of Fairview also excelled. The Harvard-bound senior cruised to a win in the 200-yard IM, finishing over three seconds ahead of second-place Harrison Lierz of Broomfield. Zarian also had a wire-to-wire victory later in the day, matching his time in the prelim time of 47.75 in the 100-yard butterfly.
In the 200-yard freestyle relay, Zarian helped Fairview finish second behind Fossil Ridge, whose deep reserve of talent is what led them to the team championship.
Other standout individual performances include Keegan Bundy of Denver South, who had multiple strong showings in the freestyle. The senior finished first in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 20.59, an improvement on his preliminary time of 21.10. He also finished second in the 100-yard freestyle.
“I had a lot of fun. I got first in the 50 and second in the 100, so that’s nothing to complain about certainly,” said Bundy, who is headed to Northwestern. “Just looking back I’ll remember how much fun this meet was, and all the people.”
Griffin Eiber of Arapahoe was the one who edged Bundy in the 100-yard freestyle, his second straight first place finish in the event. The senior also won the 200-yard freestyle after placing second in 2016.
“We push each other back and forth,” said Bundy of Eiber. “He’ll go a faster time, I’ll go faster. We’ll see each other in the Big 10 next year, too.”
Eiber is headed to Indiana next year.
On the diving side, junior Octavio Lucero of Bear Creek defended his championship in the One-meter springboard with a score of 556.30. Duncan Lester of Fairview and Noah Bettner of Lewis-Palmer finished second and third, respectively.