THORNTON — The faces of the Silver Creek contingent on Saturday told you everything you needed to know.
Having just destroyed a school record in the 200-yard freestyle relay by going sub 1 minutes, 26 seconds, the glee turned utter disappointment.
The reality of their best team finish in years was suddenly realized when they were disqualified for what was described to them as a false start.
"Usually I can pick when they've false started, but I just didn't see it," said Silver Creek coach Debbie Stewart, whose team finished fifth with 167 points. "We were very shocked when we saw it and it is a judgement call that you can't protest."
Said senior Sam Willett: "It was disappointing because we went a whole two seconds faster than we went in conference. That time would have beaten the previous school record by nearly four seconds and Noah Jepson had an unbelievable anchor leg to do that for us."
But Willett, who pleaded with the race official that made the controversial call before leaving the bulkhead, didn't have time to dwell on the bad news of the day for the Raptors. He still had another race to swim.
And to his credit, the Claremont McKenna College-bound Willett did just that in his final prep race. The top seed in the 100-backstroke, Willett stayed true to his race strategy — pacing himself from the get-go and finishing fast — and won his second event of the day in 51.15 seconds.
"I just know that 100 back for me is always a back-half race and I have been trying to work on my take out speed the past year," said Willett, who was the first Silver Creek swimmer to win two times in the same state meet since Nick Koerner sprinted his way to the 50 and 100 freestyles in 2008. "I had faith that I could come back faster than anybody else in the pool."
Willett also won the 200 IM, doing so in a All-American consideration time of 1:53.16.
It was the perfect ending to a very successful high school for the Raptors captain.
"It's been four years in the making and nothing made me prouder than to be able to stand up there for my team and look over to see them cheering for me," Willett said. "It was a pretty incredible feeling, not personally, but for the team to be able to feel that."
Said Stewart of Willett: "I know it is all about the team for him and it was disheartening with what happened in the 200 free, but he was able to get back in there and put his energy in the 100 back."
Stewart's bunch had another big day and got big swims across the board in both the finals and the consolation finals.
Chris Wingfield finished fourth in both the 50 free and the 100 fly. Jepson was sixth in the 50 and third in the 100 free. Perhaps the biggest swim of the day, in Stewart's eyes, came from freshman Andrew Wu who reached his goal of going 1:02 in the 100 breaststroke. He finished 10 overall in the event.
"I couldn't ask for a better year and it is kind of bittersweet coming to an end with those seven seniors," Stewart said. "But there are more good things to come."
Longmont returned to the consolation finals in both the 200-medley and 400-free relays. The Trojans quartet of Braxton Davis, Derek Rossi, Justin Warner and Octavio Querol moved up a spot to finish 15th in the medley with a time of 1:49.79.
Trojans diver Cooper Welsh, who through eight dives in the morning preliminary session was in eighth, moved up to seventh place overall and finished with a score of 420.25 points.
CLASS 4A STATE SWIMMING AND DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS
At Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center
Team scores — Cheyenne Mountain 358, Valor Christian 259, Thompson Valley 224, Air Academy 224, Silver Creek 167, Montrose 135, Golden 133, Estes Park 125, Denver South 95, D'Evelyn 86, Wheat Ridge 75, Littleton 70, Glenwood Springs 50, Windsor 44, Mullen 42, Pueblo County 36, Greeley Central 30, Mountain View 30, Discovery Canyon 29, Green Mountain 28, Longmont 18, Evergreen 17, Thomas Jefferson 16, Pueblo Centennial 9, Pueblo West 2, Durango 1.
200 medley relay — 1. Cheyenne Mountain (Jerry Birnbaum, Gabe Grauvogel, Brayden Love, Kaiden Kimball) 1:37.32; 2. Valor Christian (Gradon Kraeski, Caleb Kim, Lenny Den, Dylan Nasser) 1:37.56; 3. Air Academy (Jaden Zymbaluk, Caleb Hicks, Brendan Shollenbarger, Alex Occhi) 1:38.42; 6. Silver Creek (Luke Shonka, Sam Willett, Lucas Bergeson, Yusef Nammari) 1:41.05; 15. Longmont (Braxton Davis, Derek Rossi, Justin Warner, Octavio Querol) 1:49.79.
200 freestyle — 1. Kyle Leach, Cheyenne Mountain, 1:39.41 (AAA); 2. Liam Gately, Thompson Valley, 1:40.41 (CAA); 3. Griffin Ayotte, Air Academy, 1:41.68 (CAA); 16. Lucas Bergeson, Silver Creek, 1:51.3.
200 IM — 1. Sam Willett, Silver Creek, 1:53.16 (CAA); 2. Blayze Jessen, Mullen, 1:54.13; 3. Ryan Peterson, Wheat Ridge, 1:55.15.
50 freestyle — 1. Tommy Baker, Air Academy, 20.93 (CAA); 2. Keegan Bundy, Denver South, 20.96 (CAA); 3. Austin Park, Estes Park, 21.41; 4. Chris Wingfield, Silver Creek, 21.66; 6. Noah Jepson, Silver Creek, 21.88.
Diving — 1. Casey Fellows, Valor Christian, 530.30 pts.; 2. Jacob Bielmaier, Estes Park, 501.80; 3. Tristan Gess, Green Mountain, 456.00; 7. Cooper Welsh, Longmont, 420.25.
100 butterfly — 1. Caleb Hicks, Air Academy, 49.19 (4A/AAA); 2. Brayden Love, Cheyenne Mountain, 49.63 (CAA); 3. Daric Sundeen, Golden, 50.94; 4. Chris Wingfield, Silver Creek, 52.23.
100 freestyle — 1. Tommy Baker, Air Academy, 44.70 (AAA); 2. Keegan Bundy, Denver South, 45.41 (CAA); 3. Noah Jepson, Silver Creek, 46.73.
500 freestyle — 1. Liam Gately, Thompson Valley, 4:33.71 (AAA); 2. Chris Eddy, Thompson Valley, 4:35.31 (CAA); 3. Kyle Leach, Cheyenne Mountain, 4:36.72 (CAA); 14. Blake Sterns, Silver Creek, 4:59.42.
200 free relay — 1. Air Academy (Tommy Baker, Caleb Hicks, Zach Reeder, Griffin Ayotte) 1:25.51 (CAA); 2. Cheyenne Mountain (Westin Stieglitz, Kaiden Kimball, Harrison Buckley, Kyle Leach) 1:27.63; 3. Valor Christian (Matthew Wyatt, Caleb Kim, Liam Dooley, Lucas Wyatt) 1:29.16; Silver Creek (Chris Wingfield, Sam Willett, Yusef Nammari, Noah Jepson) DQ.
100 backstroke — 1. Sam Willett, Silver Creek, 51.15 (CAA); 2. Daric Sundeen, Golden, 51.83; 3. Jerry Birnbaum, Cheyenne Mountain, 51.95.
100 breaststroke — 1. Brayden Love, Cheyenne Mountain, 56.22 (AAA); 2. Caleb Hicks, Air Academy, 56.39 (CAA); 3. Jack Moranetz, D'Evelyn, 59.63; 10. Andrew Wu, Silver Creek, 1:02.76; 14. Colby Wingfield, Silver Creek, 1:05.09.
400 free relay — 1. Cheyenne Mountain (Jerry Birnbaum, Harrison Buckley, Westin Stieglitz, Kyle Leach) 3:08.08 (CAA); 2. Air Academy (Tommy Baker, Alex Occhi, Zach Reeder, Griffin Ayotte) 3:08.71 (CAA); 3. Valor Christian (Liam Dooley, Dylan Nasser, Gradon Kraeski, Lucas Wyatt) 3:12.70; 5. Silver Creek (Chris Wingfield, Kendrick Choong, Lucas Bergeson, Noah Jepson) 3:15.45; 16. Longmont (Stephen Maher, Octavio Querol, Braxton Davis, Derek Rossi) 3:38.56.
4A — Class 4A state record
AAA — Automatic All-American
CAA — Consideration All-American