AIR FORCE ACADEMY — The Class 5A state swimming championship was decided the way it should be — by a team race.
With Fossil Ridge clinging to a slim lead heading into the 200-yard freestyle relay, they needed a win. More importantly they needed a win over the team that was swimming to their right. Regis Jesuit came into the event as the favorite to win the team title, but the Sabercats had other plans.
In a race that brought competitors and the crowd to their feet, Fossil Ridge came won the relay in epic fashion. They touched the wall one hundredth of a second faster than Cherry Creek and 17-hundredths of a second faster than the Raiders. In the end, Fossil Ridge scored 297 points to win the state championship.
"We swam pretty well in the front half of the meet, but Regis was swimming pretty well too," Sabercats coach Mark Morehouse said. "We had it projected out and we knew we needed to win one of the two free-relays. We didn't know which one, but what we knew is that we couldn't make a mistake."
The Raiders looked to regain some ground in the 100-yard breaststroke, but the title would ultimately be decided in yet another relay race. The day's main event, the 400-yard freestyle relay, gave Fossil Ridge the 34 points they needed to clinch the 5A team title.
"We just wanted to continue the momentum and see how fast we could go," Sabercats swimmer Walter Dauksher said. "I was fortunate that my teammates worked hard to get me a lead. I'm not necessarily a swimmer but I put all I had into that relay."
Daunter anchored both the 200 and 400 freestyle relays that were essential in clinching the championship for Fossil Ridge.
The Raiders may have fallen short in their pursuit for the team title, but they certainly had plenty to celebrate during the meet.
During the diving finals, all eyes were centered on senior Kyle Goodwin. The diver was the three-time defending state champion and was making a run at both a fourth championship, and a state record.
His final dive of the day scored at 167.9 to net him a total score of 611.85, good enough to break Aaron Feight's 10-year-old state record of 608.20.
"I came in looking to get that fourth title and to get points for the team," Goodwin said. "Although we didn't get the team points, it still feels pretty good to come out on top for four years in a row."
Rounding out the top five on the day were Cherry Creek (209), Boulder (177) and Fairview (149). For Boulder, it was only the second time the team has ended with a top five finish. Fairview didn't quite come as far as they had last year (third place overall), but coach Amy Webb was pleased with the performance.
"This is kind of a young team now, but we swam out of our minds today," she said.
Individual honors were also handed out at the conclusion of the meet. Chris Loftis from Cherry Creek was named coach of the year while one of his swimmers, Sam Coffman, was named swimmer of the year. Coffman won the 200-yard freestyle, the 100-yard freestyle and anchored the Cherry Creek team that won the 400-yard freestyle relay.
Goodwin was an obvious choice for diver of the year and setting a state record and walking away with his fourth individual diving title. Smoky Hill's Erik Seaver was named the diving coach of the year.