THORNTON — The Boulder boys swim team was mysteriously absent from the most recent Class 5A rankings posted by Rob Nasser at Prepswimco.com this week.
On Saturday at the Mustang Invite, however, the Panthers made sure to wave "Hello" and put themselves on everyone's radar as a team to be reckoned with for the final month of the season.
The Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center was once again buzzing with fast swims and at least a couple of Colorado's top teams including Fossil Ridge and Regis Jesuit. Locally, the Panthers were joined by Broomfield, Legacy, Silver Creek, Monarch, Longmont and Fairview.
While the Raiders and SaberCats appear on a collision course for duking it out against each other at the Class 5A state meet in mid-May, Boulder's third place team effort at the Mustang Invite revealed plenty about depth — particularly in relays.
Boulder placed no worse than fourth in the three relays, including a second-place finish in the 200 free relay with the team of Mason Pendergast, Max Kreidl, Henry Crouch and Luke Stapleton coming in at 1 minute, 29.63 seconds.
"I'm really proud with how our team did and I think we all showed up today, and our relays really out-swam what we were supposed to do," said Stapleton, sophomore who also anchored the 400 free (3:15.80). "We came together as a whole, cheered for each other and had each other's backs throughout the meet.
"A lot of my teammates had success in the pool because of the work we continue to do."
Underclassmen Stapleton, Kreidl and Grant Freeman all seemed to make big strides on a day when most other spring athletes got called off competition because of the snowy conditions outside.
For Stapleton, who qualified individually for state in the 50 freestyle as a freshman, the sprints presented great challenges and he responded well. He placed second in both events, going 21.99 in the 50 and 48.62 in the 100. While the latter time was similar to a state prelim time in 2017, he was a half-second faster in his 50.
"It was awesome seeing those times for myself, but it always comes back to the work we've done and the work we'll continue to do as a team," Stapleton said, being sure to include and thank RallySport club coach Grant Holicky for his progress. "I'm looking forward to state and seeing what I can do. If I score points and succeed at that meet for my team, I'm all for it."
Kreidl finished second in the butterfly to Mountain Range's Lane Austin (who set a meet record with a time of 51.85 seconds), and he also placed third in the 200 IM. For Freeman, it was a third-place backstroke swim (53.94) that highlighted his day.
Locally, several other young swimmers did a lot of damage for their teams.
Broomfield's Harrison Lierz, back full time with the Eagles after a heavy slate of club events, shattered two meet records as he begins to set his sights on what events he wants to swim at state, while Legacy's Luke Miller also had top-four finishes in the backstroke and butterfly.
Lierz honed in on Michael Zarian's 500 time of 4:41 for Fairview in 2016, and he finished at 4:38.60; in the back, Lierz's swim of 50.28 was almost 1.5 seconds faster than that of Legacy's Casey Hamilton set last year.
"I've known a lot of these kids for the past few years, and we've all seemed to challenge each other and I think we're just all representing ourselves in high school now," Lierz said of his sophomore colleagues sprinkled throughout the meet. "I hope to focus on being with the team more this next month, going to more team functions and stuff because I just finished doing club. I'm still choosing between a few events at state."
"I think with his 500, that was a good way to judge how he's going to feel at state," Broomfield coach Emily Austin said. "At this point of the season, if he feels ok, then he's probably going to feel pretty good then. It's hard for a kid to do multiple tapers ... he's off his taper right now and he's still able to do that. It speaks volumes because he's at a hard place training-wise."
The Eagles got off to a great start with their 200 medley relay team placing second (1:37.38), and Ryan Davis added a fourth-place finish in the 100 free. The 400 free team finished third with a scorching 3:13.35.
Fairview's John Paul Phillips placed second in two events, helping the Knights to fifth place as a team.
While 4A stalwart Silver Creek had some good swims amongst much deeper big-school teams, the Raptors scored big in Friday night's diving competition — along with Skyline student and Longmont representative Cooper Welsh.
Welsh won the event with a score of 457.30, followed by Ben Willett and Ashton Hubert at 438.00 and 428.20, respectively. Willett set the school record in the process of finishing second.
Mountain Range Mustang Invite
Team scores — Regis Jesuit 403, Fossil Ridge 371.5, Boulder 273.5, Broomfield 185, Fairview 146, Mountain Range 130.5, Legacy 123, Windsor 113, Highlands Ranch 97, Loveland 90, Silver Creek 76.5, Thompson Valley 67, Monarch 63, Greeley West 60, Thornton/Northglenn 55, Longmont 38, Poudre 12, Brighton 8, Mountain View 6, Horizon 4, Valley 3.
200 medley relay — 1. Regis Jesuit (Goodwin, Warren, Gurley, Kerscher), 1:37.19; 2. Broomfield (Lierz, Anderson, Hahn, Davis), 1:37.38; 3. Fossil Ridge, 1:36.57; 4. Boulder (Freeman, Dolan, Turf, Pierce), 1:40.37.
200 freestyle — 1. Danny Kovac, Fossil Ridge, 1:42.19*; 2. John Paul Phillips, Fairview, 1:45.13; 3. Jackson Gurley, Regis Jesuit, 1:46.34.
200 IM — 1. Will Goodwin, Regis Jesuit, 1:54.38; 2. Lane Austin, Mountain Range, 1:58.07; 3. Max Kreidl, Boulder, 1:58.19.
50 freestyle — 1. Matt Geraghty, Fossil Ridge, 21.48; 2. Luke Stapleton, Boulder, 21.99; 3. Richard Dauksher, Fossil Ridge, 22.45.
Diving — 1. Cooper Welsh, Longmont, 457.30; 2. Ben Willett, Silver Creek, 438.00; 3. Ashton Hubert, Silver Creek, 428.20.
100 butterfly — 1. Lane Austin, Mountain Range, 51.85*; 2. Max Kreidl, Boulder, 52.02; 3. Luke Miller, Legacy, 52.13.
100 freestyle — 1. Richard Dauksher, Fossil Ridge, 47.68; 2. Luke Stapleton, Boulder, 48.62; 3. Jakob Borrman, Loveland, 48.80; 4. Ryan Davis, Broomfield, 49.10.
500 freestyle — 1. Harrison Lierz, Broomfield, 4:38.60*; 2. Quinton Pierce, Boulder, 4:44.60; 3. Lukas Gately, Thompson Valley, 4:53.98.
200 free relay — 1. Fossil Ridge (Geraghty, Johnson, Holt, Dauksher), 1:26.90; 2. Boulder (Ma. Pendergast, Kreidl, Crouch, Stapleton), 1:29.63; 3. Regis Jesuit, 1:30.11; 4. Legacy (Ortega, Coringato, Young, L. Miller), 1:31.26.
100 backstroke — 1. Harrison Lierz, Broomfield, 50.28*; 2. John Paul Phillips, Fairview, 52.84; 3. Grant Freeman, Boulder, 53.64; 4. Luke Miller, Legacy, 54.34.
100 breaststroke — 1. Danny Kovac, Fossil Ridge, 56.19*; 2. Will Goodwin, Regis Jesuit, 58.57; 3. Danny Turner, Loveland, 59.78; 4. Cody Yan, Fairview, 1:01.38.
400 free relay — 1. Fossil Ridge (Geraghty, Worlund, Dauksher, Kovac), 3:07.658; 2. Regis Jesuit, 3:12.53; 3. Broomfield (Anderson, Kim, Davis, Lierz), 3:13.35; 4. Boulder (Pendergast, Kreidl, Pierce, Stapleton), 3:15.80.
* — denotes meet record