THORNTON — Maybe it was always fated to end this way. But the Cherry Creek boys swim team wasn't leaving anything to chance. That was clear in the 100-yard freestyle race when the Bruins got the surprise of the meet. And it was on top of Brendan Eckerman's win in the event.
From the No. 10 lane Nikolas Silolahti gave the performance of his life and came in second. Cherry Creek scored a combined 45 points for the one-two finish and never looked back en route to claiming the Class 5A boys swimming championship at the VMAC.
"It shocked not only our program but I think everyone in the building," Cherry Creek coach Chris Loftis said. "Going from 10 to two from an outside lane, it took him a good 20 seconds to figure out what was going on. He just kept staring at the scoreboard until he finally figured it out."
It gave the Bruins a surge. And that surge lasted to the very end.
They won the final two relay races of the meet, the 200 and 400 freestyle, and did so without sitting in the coveted fifth lane. It was a fitting end for a team that has grown so close over the season.
"Especially after this week," Eckerman said. "It just felt like a family. We were a little ununited at the beginning of the season but as things went on and people started seeing each other get faster it drove everyone to work harder."
And the roars that came from poolside when Silolahti touched the wall to finish second were living proof of that bond. The loudest cheers through the night came for someone who didn't even get to stand at the top of the podium.
"I realized where I was off the third turn," Silolahti said. "I just kept it going. It was a little surreal."
Creek started the event by claiming gold in the 200 medley relay. Legacy junior Lukas Miller then grabbed the attention of the spectators when he blazed his way to a win in the 200 yard freestyle. His time of one minute, 35.72 seconds is a Colorado state record.
He grabbed himself another top finish later in the night when he won the 500 freestyle. Heading into his senior year in 2020, he couldn't imagine a better outcome for himself.
"I'm pretty happy with all my swims," Miller said. "I made a few mistakes and you can always improve and it's all about learning every race. It was good."
Regis Jesuit picked up a fair share of wins themselves. Will Goodwin took the 200 IM (1:48.57) and the 100 breaststroke (54.67).
Sophomore diver Quinn Henninger wowed the crow each time he sprung off the board.
The Raiders finished 394 points to claim runner-up honors. Cherry Creek finished the meet with 520. The first sign of a dominant performance came in that 100 freestyle. It was then that the team knew it was its meet to lose.
"It was Nicky's 100 for sure," Eckerman said. "It was gigantic for him. I knew he was going to have a great race and I knew he'd come in hot, but I didn't know he'd come in that hot."
This marks the 11th boys swimming title for Cherry Creek and its first since 1994. And the Bruins didn't leave anything to chance. They were taking gold at the end of the night come heck or high water.