THORNTON -- You couldn’t have asked for a better finish.
With one event remaining, the 400-yard freestyle relay, Regis Jesuit High School held a half-point lead over Fairview in the quest for the team title in the Class 5A girls state swimming and diving championships.
The two teams lined up by side in adjoining lanes for the 400-yard relay final. They were that way, in first and second, entering the final 100-yard leg.
Taylor Wilson stepped up for Regis, swimming the winning anchor leg and propelling the Raiders to their second consecutive team title and third in four years.
Wilson actually relished the challenge.
“When I was getting ready I was smiling,” she said. “Nothing makes me happier than that kind of pressure.”
This was a different Regis team than the ones four years prior. With no Missy Franklin piling up points, the team had to find another way to get it done. It did so, in part, by winning all three relays.
“We can in (to the season) knowing we could make it that far,” Wilson said of repeating as state champions. “We knew it -- we wanted everybody else to know it.”
Regis finished with 254.5 points, with Fairview second with 248.
After back-to-back second-place finishes the previous two years, ThunderRidge junior Annie Ochitwa finally earned her first state title, winning the 50 freestyle by an impressive 0.15 of a second over Lauren Moden of Legend.
Ochitwa had finished second and third the previous two years in the 100 freestyle. Again, she rectified that by earning her second gold medal.
The Grizzlies spent Friday night in a hotel, ate dinner and watched television. Ochitwa's inspiration came from the Food Network.
“Definitely cake, lots of cake,” she said of what she’d been holding off from eating while training, an indulgence with which she plans to reward herself. Then it’s back to the pool, where a repeat of her feats will provide her with off-season motivation.
Ella Moynihan of Arapahoe, who entered the state meet as the top seed in the 200 freestyle, retained that position through the preliminaries and followed that up with a victory in the finals, winning by more than a second in defeating defending champion Erin Metzger-Seymour of Ralston Valley.
Bailey Nero of Fossil Ridge, who took fifth in the 200 freestyle, capped off her day with the title, edging Metzger-Seymour by 0.3 of a second.
Loveland’s Brooke Hansen surprised the field in the 200 individual medley. Seeded fourth entering the meet, she edged out top seed Madeline Myers of Ralston Valley by 0.08 of a second.
Boulder senior Amanda Richey was the distance champion, winning the 500 freestyle by a second over Madeline Myers of Ralston Valley. The backstroke title went to sophomore Abigail Kochevar of Rock Canyon. Honors in the breaststroke went to Fossil Ridge freshman Bailey Kovac, who edged Hansen at the wall.
Regis Jesuit sophomore Mckensi Austin won the state diving title. With a score of 494.45 points, she outdistanced Kaitlin Costello of Douglas County by 31.05 points