THORNTON — When Broomfield's Harrison Lierz is loose, you're going to know it.
On Saturday at the Class 5A state swimming and diving championships, the hat he wore on top of the podium for his 200 free and 500 free state championship-winning times said it all.
Full of color and equipped with the ability to light up, Lierz's hat was very much a barometer on the outside to what he was feeling inside before and after the weekend.
"I swim fast when I have fun, and it just seems when I focus too much on things I get nervous and don't swim. I do whatever I can to try and have fun," Lierz, just a sophomore for the Eagles, said after becoming Broomfield's first state champ since Martin Wallace in 2014. "I still felt pretty good after prelims, knowing I could make some things up in finals. I was happy with the weekend."
The meet at the Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center in Thornton was chock-full of surprises — Regis Jesuit literally halted Fossil Ridge's three-year reign at the top of the team race in the final 25 yards of the 400 free relay — and certainly Lierz's 200 free win from the far outside lane was one of those moments.
Not so much in that he won, but that he was pushed to the wall by Legacy sophomore Lukas Miller swimming on the complete opposite side of the pool. Lierz won the event in 1 minute, 39.12 seconds in the ninth lane while Miller was second at 1:39.51 in lane 2.
The 500 free was stacked after Friday's preliminaries, where five swimmers placed a seed time within 1.58 seconds of Lierz's top-seed time. That included Boulder's Quinton Pierce, last year's 5A state champ.
Lierz, however, was able to push himself and cut time to an automatic All-American time of 4:34.18 to double up on gold.
"On the 200 ... I didn't even see Luke until the last 25, so I was like, 'oh, crap, I really need to take a big stride and keep up my pace,' but otherwise I just think it was a well-swam race," Lierz said. "The 200 free yesterday (dropping to the eighth seed from first), it really opened my eyes to having to try more than I did. I wasn't ready for that. But that 500, I knew the two people next two me were going to be right there with me, so I just made sure to keep even and not die at the end."
Miller is another sophomore who simply excelled on the season's biggest stage. In addition to his second place finish in the 200 free, Miller placed fourth in the 100 butterfly by dropping three seconds (to 49.03) off his initial seed. The Legacy 200 and 400 free relay teams also placed.
"You saw in prelims, the 200 was super-tight so even being the second-to-last seed I still had a chance, so I swam it to win it and it turned out well," Miller said. "I knew today was going to be good, but I can't say I expected it to be that good."
Boulder finished sixth overall for the second straight season, and the Panthers have their relay teams to thank. All three relay teams moved into the championship finals after Friday, and BHS foursomes finished seventh (200 medley relay, 200 free relay) and fifth (400 free relay).
Individually, Max Kreidl placed fifth in the 200 individual medley and sixth in the 200 butterfly, and Pierce also finished fifth in the 200 free.
"Our goal was to get all three relays in top eight and we did that. I'm not actually sure if we've ever done that before," Boulder coach Emily Sampl said of her team, which finished with more points this year (138) than last (133.5). "We had a lot of good swims, and I couldn't have asked for anything more."
Fairview's John Paul Phillips was the only other local swimmer to place top-8 in an individual event, finishing eighth in the 100 backstroke.
Class 5A Swimming and Diving Championships
Team scores — Regis Jesuit 290.50, Fossil Ridge 286, Cherry Creek 208.50, Arapahoe 198, Highlands Ranch 169, Boulder 138, Ponderosa 117, Hinkley 101, Rocky Mountain 96, Fort Collins 88.50, Greeley West 82, Broomfield 79, Legacy 68, Lewis-Palmer 66, Smoky Hill 57, Mountain Range 50, Ralston Valley 36, Columbine 36, Grandview 22.50, Heritage 21, Bear Creek 20, Rampart 20, Denver South 20, Fairview 19, Lakewood 15, Denver East 13, Chatfield 6, Monarch 2.
200 medley relay — 1. Regis Jesuit (Coen, Warren, Gurley, Goodwin), 1:30.52*; 2. Arapahoe, 1:33.74; 3. Ponderosa, 1:33.82; 6. Broomfield (Harrison Lierz, Sam Anderson, Bodric St. Onge, Ryan Davis), 1:35.64; 7. Boulder (Grant Freeman, AJ Dolan, Matt Slade, Mason Pendergast), 1:36.33.
200 freestyle — 1. Harrison Lierz, Broomfield, 1:39.12; 2. Lukas Miller, Legacy, 1:39.51. 3. Richard Dauksher, Fossil Ridge, 1:40.14; 5. Quinton Pierce, Boulder, 1:40.86; 14. John Paul Phillips, Fairview, 1:44.61.
200 IM — 1. Danny Kovac, Fossil Ridge, 1:46.27*; 2. William Goodwin, Regis Jesuit, 1:48.22; 3. Gavin Olson, Columbine, 1:51.03; 5. Max Kreidl, Boulder, 1:53.21.
50 freestyle — 1. Elijah Warren, Regis Jesuit, 20.68; 2. Lane Austin, Mountain Range, 20.86; 3. Matt Geraghty, Fossil Ridge, 21.18; 15. Mason Pendergast, Fairview, 22.19.
Diving — 1. Octavio Lucero, Bear Creek, 594.80; 2. Quinn Henninger, Regis Jesuit, 564.60; 3. Clayton Chaplin, Highlands Ranch, 539.45.
100 butterfly — 1. Danny Kovac, Fossil Ridge, 46.65; 2. Blake Wilton, Ponderosa, 48.95; 3. Ty Coen, Regis Jesuit, 48.97; 4. Lukas Miller, Legacy, 49.03; 6. Max Kreidl, Boulder, 50.39; 16. Grant Freeman, Boulder, 52.48.
100 freestyle — 1. Matt Geraghty, Fossil Ridge, 45.92; 2. Brendan Eckerman, Cherry Creek, 46.61; 2. Lucius Gao, Fort Collins, 46.61; 14. Will Brown, Fairview, 48.11; 16. Ryan Davis, Broomfield, 48.82.
500 freestyle — 1. Harrison Lierz, Broomfield, 4:34.18; 2. Richard Dauksher, Fossil Ridge, 4:35.70; 3. Quinton Pierce, Boulder, 4:36.28.
200 free relay — 1. Cherry Creek (Eckerman, Morris, Roach, Jang), 1:24.49; 2. Fossil Ridge, 1:24.98; 3. Highlands Ranch, 1:25.57; 7. Boulder (Luke Stapleton, Mason Pendergast, Quinton Pierce, Max Kreidl), 1:26.41; 8. Legacy (Jonus Ortega, Nicolas Coringrato, Alex Young, Lukas Miller), 1:27.66; 16. Monarch (Rodrigo Gutierrez, Cody Glastetter, Justin Darr, Austen Schunk), 1:30.68.
100 backstroke — 1. Gavin Olson, Columbine, 48.59; 2. Ty Coen, Regis Jesuit, 49.79; 3. Sawyer Kruse, Rocky Mountain, 50.08; 8. John Paul Phillips, Fairview, 51.48; 16. Grant Freeman, Boulder, 53.22.
100 breaststroke — 1. Elijah Warren, Regis Jesuit, 55.01; 2. William Goodwin, Regis Jesuit, 55.80; 3. Nick Orie, Lewis-Palmer, 57.25; 16. AJ Dolan, Boulder, 1:00.70.
400 free relay — 1. Regis Jesuit (Ty Coen, Elliot Steinberg, William Goodwin, Elijah Warren), 3:02.67; 2. Fossil Ridge, 3:03.00; 3. Cherry Creek, 3:07.24; 5. Boulder (Quinton Pierce, Luke Stapleton, Grant Freeman, Max Kreidl), 3:09.02; 10. Legacy (Lukas Miller, Nicolas Coringrato, Alex Young, Jonus Ortega), 3:10.94; 11. Broomfield (Sam Anderson, Jon Kim, Ryan Davis, Harrison Lierz), 3:11.05; 16. Fairview (Will Brown, Noah Anderson, Brandon Li, John Paul Phillips), 3:20.47.
* — denotes state record