THORNTON -- The Silver Creek boys swim program and coach Debbie Stewart have a wonderful problem.

The Raptors return 15 state qualifiers off of last years squad that finished 11th at the Class 4A state meet.

Those numbers alone might tell you that they have a chance to move up the leaderboard in May when the state meet heads to the Air Force Academy.

Here is where that wonderful problem comes in. Add to those numbers a hugely talented freshman class and it has the Raptors thinking even bigger things.

On Saturday at the 2018 Dick Rush Coaches Invite at Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center, the Raptors young guns -- notably Pierce Bigelow and Connor Hassert -- showed off their wares and helped Silver Creek to a first-place finish among the 4A teams on hand.

"It's getting them to be accepted by the upperclassmen, which they have, especially proving themselves to the upperclassmen today by their swims," said Stewart, whose team finished with 180 points to top league rival Windsor's 115. "It's a chemistry of how it all works together and those guys are an added plus to this team and it helps the upperclassmen step up too."

Bigelow and Hassert each made it back to a 'A' final on Saturday in a loaded event -- albeit a little lighter with some teams on spring break and others preparing for next week's sectional meet in Phoenix -- with some of the best of the best from Class 5A.

Bigelow swam first in the 200-yard freestyle and finished eighth with a time of 1:53.11.


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Hassert went next in the 200 individual medley and he too finished eighth, with a swim of 2:06.18, which bettered his preliminary time by .2 seconds.

"I find I do better when I'm not worried," said Hassert, when asked about the biggest difference between the club season and the more-fun high school season. "The most I try to do is keep a good attitude and it is fun working with my teammates at these meets. That's the best way I can lead, is with my attitude."

Bigelow and Hassert also teamed up with Andrew Wu (a fourth place finisher in the 100 breaststroke) and senior Chris Wingfield to finish ninth in the 200 medley relay.

Another stellar individual performance on Saturday was turned in by Monarch's Tanner Filion. The junior finished seventh in the 200 free (1:49.98) and closed with a brilliant final 150 yards in the 500 free to finish third with a time of 5:01.84.

"I wanted to make state in the 500 and the 200, which I did, and now I'm going to try and make it in the 100 back(stroke)," Filion said. "We will see how that goes, I've got a lot of training to do, but hopefully I can get there."

Broomfield's Harrison Lierz swam in just one individual event, finishing third in a very fast 50 freestyle with a time of 21.48 seconds. Eagles teammate Sam Anderson finished eighth in 22.67. Ponderosa's Blake Wilton went sub 21 seconds, winning in 20.97.

Regis Jesuit won the overall Class 5A team title with a score of 419 points. Broomfield finished 11th with 120, Monarch was 12th with 89 and Fairview (on the strength of Noah Anderson's 10th place swim in the 500) was 17th with 67 points.

Jon Yunt: yuntj@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/JonEYunt

2018 DICK RUSH COACHES INVITATIONAL

At Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center

Team scores (Class 5A) — Regis Jesuit 419, Cherry Creek 311, Ponderosa 306, Greeley West 275, Smoky Hill 216, Highlands Ranch 190, Arapahoe 150, Fossil Ridge 144, Lewis-Palmer 129, Mountain Range 125, Broomfield 120, Monarch 89, Cherokee Trail 85, Grandview 74, Rampart 68, Chatfield 67, Fairview 60, Heritage 54, Columbine 29, Denver South 20, Aurora Public School 18, Denver East 18, Lakewood 16.

Team scores — Silver Creek 180, Windsor 115, Pine Creek 113, George Washington 35, Valor Christian 24, Denver North 11, Longmont 5.

200 medley relay — 1. Regis Jesuit 1:35.80; 2. Broomfield (Harrison Lierz, Sam Anderson, Bo St. Onge, Sam Hahn) 1:39.21; 3. Windsor 1:40.33; 9. Silver Creek (Pierce Bigelow, Andrew Wu, Connor Hassert, Chris Wingfield) 1:44.21; 13. Fairview (Galen Graham-Bell, Ben Nickell, Noah Anderson, Luke Davis) 1:46.45.

200 freestyle — 1. Nathan Kenigsberg, Greeley West, 1:43.97; 2. Joseph Jang, Cherry Creek, 1:44.14; 3. Jackson Wuthrich, Greeley West, 1:45.29; 7. Tanner Filion, Monarch, 1:49.98; 8. Pierce Bigelow, Silver Creek, 1:53.11; 14. Hayden Dickinson, Silver Creek, 1:52.12.

200 IM — 1. Nicholas Sherman, Pine Creek, 1:53.65; 2. Ty Coen, Regis Jesuit, 1:59.27; 3. Nick Orie, Lewis-Palmer, 1:59.89; 8. Connor Hassert, Silver Creek, 2:06.18.

50 freestyle — 1. Blake Wilton, Ponderosa, 20.97; 2. Lane Austin, Mountain Range, 21.38; 3. Harrison Lierz, Broomfield, 21.48; 8. Sam Anderson, Broomfield, 22.67; 12. Rod Gutierrez, Monarch, 22.81; T13. Chris Wingfield, 22.91.

Diving — 1. Quinn Henninger, Regis Jesuit, 531.60 points; 2. Aric Althouse, Lewis-Palmer, 516.95; 3. Jack Ryan, Denver South, 515.90; 7. Ashton Hubert, Silver Creek, 381.65; 16. Caleb Young, Longmont, 308.40.

100 butterfly — 1. Blake Wilton, Ponderosa, 49.43; 2. Tylen Phillips, Smoky Hill, 51.41; 3. Nicholas Sherman, Pine Creek, 51.77; 15. Carson Simon, Silver Creek, 56.81; 20. Pierce Bigelow, Silver Creek, 57.39.

100 freestyle — 1. Joseph Jang, Cherry Creek, 47.72; 2. Jordan Scott, Smoky Hill, 48.40; 3. Daniel Benson, Arapahoe, 48.70; 11. Will Brown, Fairview, 50.55; 12. Hayden Dickinson, Silver Creek, 51.10; 16. Chris Wingfield, Silver Creek, 51.60.

500 freestyle — 1. Nathan Kenigsberg, Greeley West, 4:50.67; 2. Cobi Wood, Grandview, 4:55.57; 3. Tanner Filion, Monarch, 5:01.84; 10. Noah Anderson, Fairview, 5:11.41; 14. Conor Hassert, Silver Creek, 5:09.72.

200 free relay — 1. Ponderosa 1:29.14; 2. Cherry Creek 1:29.51; 3. Smoky Hill 1:29.63; 4. Broomfield (Sam Anderson, Bo St. Onge, Jon Kim, Harrison Lierz) 1:29.85; 9. Monarch (Rod Guitierrez, Austen Schunk, Justin Darr, Tanner Filion) 1:33.22; 10. Silver Creek (Chris Wingfield, Noah Simon, Kendrick Choong, Hayden Dickinson) 1:33.41.

100 backstroke — 1. Tylen Phillips, Smoky Hill 53.74; 2. Drake Manuello, Greeley West, 53.84; 3. Connor Johnson, Ponderosa, 53.92; 15. Brandon Li, Fairview, 59.09; 16. Sam Hahn, Broomfield, 59.22; 17. Galen Graham-Bell, Fairview, 59.58; 18. Will Brown, Fairview, 59.86; 20. Weston Call, 1:00.20.

100 breaststroke — 1. Elijah Warren, Regis Jesuit, 58.17; 2. Ethan Hansbury, Windsor, 1:01.40; 3. Jake Leichner, Highlands Ranch, 1:02.21; 4. Andrew Wu, Silver Creek, 1:02.31; 14. Ben Nickell, Fairview, 1:03.81.

400 free relay — 1. Regis Jesuit 3:16.71; 2. Ponderosa 1:17.71; 3. Greeley West 3:19.85; 12. Silver Creek (Pierce Bigelow, Dakota Casey, Connor Hassert, Hayden Dickinson) 3:30.23; 13. Monarch (Tanner Filion, Peter Kowalski, Tachi Williams, Austen Schunk) 3:30.35; 20. Longmont (Sean Findley, Finn Dangerfield, Josh Hoffmaster, Octavio Querol) DQ.