THORNTON — With just about one month to go in his senior year for the Legacy swim team, Daniel Bradford is swinging for the fences.
As a whole, too, the Lightning just keep feeding off of each other's successes and that trend continued at the well-attended Mountain Range Mustang Invite on Saturday.
With boys swimming heavyweights Fossil Ridge, Fairview and Boulder all bringing home some great times from the Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center just about one month before the Class 5A state meet, Legacy had its share of moments on a morning when many of them may have been thinking about prom.
Consider Bradford one of them, as he was very thankful the entire meet was done before noon. There was not a lot of pomp and circumstance to the meet, but it was still huge in Bradford's eyes to have taken home the 500 freestyle win as well as a second place finish in the 200 free to Boulder's Nathan Rock.
Rock set a meet record in the 200 free going 1 minute, 44.55 seconds to Bradford's 1:45.37, but Bradford and Rock likely will be battling pretty hard for the 500 free state title in May. The two sit first and second, respectively, in the latest rankings posted by prepswimco.com.
"I'm done with club swimming for the short course season, so it's really time to focus just on high school at this point, and the 500 has been my go-to ever since I was a freshman," Bradford said after his swim, which on Saturday was 4:46.42. "To see myself almost swimming best times at mid-season, I'm really happy and just hoping to push myself to keep getting better to get top-three at state.
"We're doing incredible things as a team, and I can't really explain it but I just know we're all swimming fast and getting behind each other. It's a lot of fun to watch."
Bradford's teammate, junior Casey Hamilton, also had some kind of meet in advance of the evening festivities. Hamilton broke one of the meet's older records, going 51.62 in the backstroke to top the field and to put him in the top three state-wide. The previous record time was 51.75, set in 2013 by Loveland's Ryan Ball.
The Lightning also finished second in the 200 medley relay to Fossil Ridge, as the Sabercats swept the relays.
"Really excited for today, and I think the season's just going to get better for the team and individually," Hamilton said. "We have a couple more kids getting close to state and that's exciting. It's invigorating seeing yourself do well, but seeing teammates get best times and state cuts is the best feeling."
While not everyone threw their absolute best lineups out there — Fairview, for example, was missing Michael Zarian but did see Justin Li sweep both sprint distance events — Broomfield also flexed its muscles in several events led by the tandem of Austin Crump and Harrison Lierz.
The Eagles 400 free relay team (Crump, Lierz, Ryan Davis and Sam Anderson) made sure to establish to Fossil Ridge that they mean business. The Sabercats, heavy favorites for the 5A team title, are currently situated first in every relay but on Saturday the two teams went down to the wire in the exhilarating finale. Fossil Ridge ended up winning by two-hundredths of a second, establishing a meet record 3:11.39.
Lierz, a freshman, was excited for that race even after just finishing top-two in his individual events. Another swimmer who is all over the rankings in different strokes, Lierz won the 200 IM by more than three seconds and dropped almost two full seconds off his 100 free seed time.
"This meet helped my confidence out a lot, just racing a lot of guys that are older than me and getting used to that. I know I can do better every meet," Lierz said. "I felt really good about my IM and I just missed my best by (six-hundredths).
"We feel really good as a team, and we think we will be able to do a lot at state. Our 400 free relay team is confident right now."
Fossil Ridge won the meet handily, but Fairview, Boulder, Legacy and Broomfield followed up in that order. Monarch, led by Kyle Mak's pair of top-four finishes, placed seventh.
Mountain Range Mustang Invite
Top 3 and local top 8 finishers
Team scores — Fossil Ridge 355.5, Fairview 308.5, Boulder 270.5, Legacy 229, Broomfield 198, Windsor 151, Monarch 120.5, Greeley West 108, Estes Park 89, Mountain Range 88, Silver Creek 87, Loveland 76, Northglenn/Thornton 64, Longmont 59, Mountain View 55, Thompson Valley 23, Horizon 22, Poudre 17, Valley 4.
200 medley relay — 1. Fossil Ridge, 1:36.95*; 2. Legacy (Hamilton, Bradford, Nielsen, Miller), 1:41.00; 3. Fairview (Brown, Yan, Li, Renfrow), 1:41.32; 4. Boulder, 1:42.85; 7. Monarch, 1:46.23; 8. Silver Creek, 1:46.34.
200 freestyle — 1. Nathan Rock, Boulder, 1:44.55*; 2. Daniel Bradford, Legacy, 1:45.37; 3. Blake Olson, Thornton, 1:47.34; 4. Luke Miller, Legacy, 1:49.78; 7. Alan Ferrera, Monarch, 1:53.92; 8. Mason Pendergast, Boulder, 1:54.28.
200 IM — 1. Harrison Lierz, Broomfield, 1:53.46; 2. Casey Hamilton, Legacy, 1:56.93; 3. Richard Dauksher, Fossil Ridge, 2:01.58; 4. Kyle Mak, Monarch, 2:02.20; 5. Spencer Derthick, Fairview, 2:05.36; 6. Ozzie Davis, Boulder, 2:05.63.
50 freestyle — 1. Justin Li, Fairview, 21.61; 2. Danny Kovac, Fossil Ridge, 21.64; 3. Shamzi Alkaff, Fossil Ridge, 21.69; 6. Austin Crump, Broomfield, 22.49; 7. Joe Felton, Fairview, 22.50; 8. Jacob Hahn, Broomfield, 22.79.
100 butterfly — 1. Blake Olson, Thornton, 52.90; 2. Grant Freeman, Boulder, 54.49; 3. Matt Geraghty, Fossil Ridge, 54.80; 4. Matt Slade, Boulder, 55.57; 5. Max Kreidl, Boulder, 55.72; 6. Sam Anderson, Broomfield, 56.09; Luke Stapleton, Boulder, 56.27(n).
100 freestyle — 1. Justin Li, Fairview, 47.33; 2. Harrison Lierz, Broomfield, 47.48; 3. Austin Crump, Broomfield, 48.45; 5. Will Brown, Fairview, 49.51; 7. Christopher George, Fairview, 49.61; 8. Breyden Fano, Fairview, 49.65.
500 freestyle — 1. Daniel Bradford, Legacy, 4:46.42; 2. Quinton Pierce, Boulder, 4:49.40; 3. Danny Kovac, Fossil Ridge, 4:55.49; 4. Alex Nielsen, Legacy, 5:04.49; 6. Octavio Querol, Longmont, 5:18.68.
200 free relay — 1. Fossil Ridge, 1:26.37*; 2. Broomfield (Anderson, Davis, Lierz, Crump), 1:27.35; 3. Fairview (Renfrow, Felton, Li, Martin), 1:27.53; 4. Legacy, 1:31.85; 6. Broomfield B, 1:33.47; 8. Boulder, 1:33.87.
100 backstroke — 1. Casey Hamilton, Legacy, 51.62*; 2. Nathan Rock, Boulder, 53.42; 3. Kyle Mak, Monarch, 54.57; 7. Grant Freeman, Boulder, 56.19.
100 breaststroke — 1. Danny Turner, Loveland, 1:01.88; 2. Cody Yan, Fairview, 1:03.96; 3. Spencer Derthick, Fairview, 1:04.02; 5. Jacob Hahn, Broomfield, 1:04.25(n); 6. Henry Crouch, Boulder, 1:05.05(n).
400 free relay — 1. Fossil Ridge, 3:11.39*; 2. Broomfield (Davis, Anderson, Lierz, Crump), 3:11.41; 3. Boulder (Pierce, Rock, Freeman, Stapleton), 3:14.36; 4. Fairview, 3:16.76; 5. Legacy, 3:17.30; 8. Monarch, 3:26.28.
* — denotes meet record.
All times listed are state qualifying marks unless marked with (n).