Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
Matthew Jonas / Staff Photographer
If You Go
What: CHSAA Class 5A and 4A state swimming and diving championships
When: Friday and Saturday
Where: Class 4A meet will take place at the Air Force Academy, while the 5A meet will be at the Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center in Thornton.
Info: Preliminary races for both classifications begin Friday at 4 p.m. Diving preliminaries for both classes begin Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. Finals for both classes will take place Saturday at 3 p.m.
In 5A, Boulder, Fairview, Legacy, Broomfield and Monarch will be represented. In 4A, Silver Creek and Longmont will have participants.
The reign of local boys swimmers in the Class 5A 500 freestyle over the past three season has been quite phenomenal to witness. Starting with Fairview’s Michael Zarian in 2015, the state 500 winner has emerged from a BoCoPreps-area school each and every time.
Broomfield’s Harrison Lierz and Boulder’s Quinton Pierce are the next hopefuls to keep the streak going, as the Class 5A and Class 4A state swimming and diving championships take place Friday and Saturday.
Both swimmers are veterans to the state meet, despite the fact Lierz is just a sophomore for the Eagles. Pierce is a Panthers senior who, according to Boulder coach Emily Sampl, is ready to tackle that event with his best effort yet.
“I think that Quinton is excited, being a senior and it being his last opportunity, and I know he really wants to represent Boulder High well this weekend,” Sampl said as her team prepares for Friday’s preliminaries at the Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center in Thornton. The championship finals for 5A will take place Saturday at 3 p.m. “The best is yet to come for Quinton, I think.
“For Boulder, we’d love to keep that streak going but we also have had a state champion three years in a row and it would be awesome if we could add a fourth.”
Lierz enters the 500 as the top seed in 5A, having swam to an impressive time of 4:38.60 at the Mountain Range Mustang Invite. Pierce is right there, sitting third with a time of 4:44.60.
However, at last year’s state meet in which Boulder’s Nathan Rock captured the gold medal, Pierce was incredible — posting a time of 4:35.53 for second (he was just two-tenths of a second behind Rock). Lierz was third as a freshman in 2017.
Likely, it will be quite a battle between the pair — with Lakewood’s Isaac Garcia and a couple of swimmers from Fossil Ridge in the mix, as well.
Lierz and Pierce will first battle head to head in the 200 free — another event in which Lierz is seeded first. But for Boulder, there is good potential in a couple of others to score in multiple events individually.
Max Kreidl, Luke Stapleton and Grant Freeman each could place top 16 in two events, putting Boulder in line for a solid finish.
All three of Broomfield’s relays are also ranked highly, and the Eagles are a reasonable threat to finish top-six as a team. Fairview, Legacy and Monarch should all see individuals place this weekend.
Silver Creek and Longmont will compete in the 4A meet at the Air Force Academy, and the event to hone in on down there appears to be diving. The Raptors do have a strong sprint swimmer in Christopher Wingfield, but between Benjamin Willett, Ashton Hubert and Matthew Teta there is a good chance a lot of team points will come off the spring board. Longmont’s Cooper Welsh has scored 487.50 points in a meet this year, and he is joined by Caleb Young and Lucas Payne as seniors looking to finish strong.
Willett is also ranked 23rd in the backstroke, certainly a contender to be a very non-traditional double-finalist.