THORNTON — Regis Jesuit swam an incredible final relay to finish atop the podium in a comeback win at this year's Class 5A boys swimming state championships.
The Raiders trailed Fossil Ridge by 1.5 points heading into the final event of the night — the 400-yard freestyle relay. Fossil Ridge was the favorite, having qualified first in prelims by over three seconds.
But the Raiders took the lead in the second leg with a strong swim by senior Elliot Steinberg and held it for a tight finish: a last lap featuring Regis Jesuit senior Elijah Warren and Fossil Ridge senior Danny Kovac in a charged swim to the finish.
“I knew we had to win it. We just had to. That was it,” said Regis Jesuit senior Ty Coen. “I’m so happy and lucky to be here right now.”
Coen swam the state finals just five weeks after having hand surgery. He recorded a lifetime best in both his individual events and helped lead his team to state record breaking time in the 200-yard medley relay. The Raiders broke the Colorado record by one one-hundredth of a second with an impressive 1:30:52 finish in the first event of the night.
It set the stage for a championship that would come eleven events and three-and-a-half hours later.
Junior William Goodwin raced the book-end relays as well.
“I swam that for the seniors. That was the most emotional race I have ever been a part of,” Goodwin said, remarking on the 400-yard freestyle relay.
Both he and Warren swam their hearts out just minutes after placing first and second in the 100-yard breast stroke with All-American times.
Fossil Ridge's three-year reign ended in a 4.5-point margin, but the SaberCats held the lead for the majority of the evening.
The SaberCats placed in all three relays and claimed first place in three individual events.
Senior Danny Kovac set a state record with a time of 1:46:27 in the 200-yard individual medley. In his second individual discipline, the 100-meter butterfly, his 46.65 finish scored him redemption from last year's second place. Kovac won both those races by over two seconds.
Kovac's teammate, senior Matt Geraghty, finished first in the 100-yard freestyle.
In the 200-yard freestyle, Broomfield sophomore Harrison Lierz finished first in 1:39.12. Lierz also won the 500-yard freestyle, finishing first and pushing hard on the final lap to earn an all-American time of 4:34:16.
Bear Creek senior, Octavio Lucero, wrapped up his high school diving career with a 40-point margin in his first-place finish, ending with a score of 594.80. He will dive for University of Hawaii next year, opening the field for freshman podium placers Clayton Chaplin (Highlands Ranch) and Quinn Henninger (Regis Jesuit).
The 2018 swimmer of the year award was shared by Kovac and Warren.
After Warren swam the last lap and first championship of his high school career, he had few words to express the feeling.
“I can’t describe this. I’ve wanted this since I was a freshman,” Warren said. “II love being part of the Regis swim culture. To finally make this happen, well, it just hasn’t sunk in quite yet.”