Jeremy Papasso/Staff Photographer
THORNTON — Fairview coach Stacey Tobey showed off her wet socks after a celebratory dip in the pool on Friday night.
“Shell yeah”, they read.
Shell yeah, indeed.
The Knights didn’t take home any individual title but used their depth to claim their second straight Class 5A team title and their third in five years at the 5A swim championships at Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center.
Jenna Reznicek was second in the 100-yard backstroke, a result that supplanted Cherry Creek for the lead with just two events remaining. The Knights then placed two in the top nine in the 100 breaststroke and was fifth in the 400 freestyle relay to hold on for the win with 382.5 points. The Bruins were second at 348.
“During that (backstroke) I was really swimming for the team and the points,” said Reznicek, who earlier came right behind teammate Edith Simecek in a two-three finish in the 100 butterfly and was also part of a runner-up finish for the 200 medley relay.
“I didn’t know how much it would factor into the win. But I definitely knew every race counted, so I just gave it my all.”
The Knights came down from atop the podium after grabbing their trophy. Hands held together, they jumped into the pool in victory. It’s a result that hadn’t been a certainty.
“We are pretty surprised and really didn’t know coming into the last relay how it was going to turn out,” said Tobey, who took over the program along with co-coach Francoise Bentley this year. “We started with a bang (Thursday) and had a lot of upperclassmen that just came in and just kind of took control.
It had a different feel early Friday.
Fairview’s 200 medley relay slipped into second place in the opening event despite eclipsing its top preliminary time by more than a second (1:43.26-to-1:42:06). Fossil Ridge (1:41.50) jumped the Knights there and went on to win a meet-best six events. The Sabercats got two individual titles from Lucy Bell and Renee Gillilan.
The Bruins crept past Fairview for the lead following the seventh event, the 100 freestyle. It was just one of the two events (along with diving) the Knights didn’t have an ‘A’ finalist.
“We had to pull some of our underclassmen to get things going again,” Tobey said. “Edith Simecek is a freshman and really did such a great job. And Jenna, her relays and her individuals for her back and 100 fly, you couldn’t go wrong with her.”
A season ago, the Knights’ depth was completely unmatched as its asphyxiated hold on the meet didn’t flinch from start to finish. The win came by more than 100 points over second-place Fossil Ridge, which had won the previous two titles. It also served as an exclamation point on the legacy of the program’s longtime coach Bob Smartt, who was sent off into retirement a champion.
The follow-up saw them with 14 spots — including all three relays — in the finals, and 16 more in the consolations. They, along with Fossil Ridge, Regis Jesuit and Cherry Creek, came into the final day as the only teams with legitimate shots at winning the team title.
Julianne Jones turned in a runner-up performance in the 200 IM and was tied for sixth in the 100 breaststroke. To name a few others, Morgan Lukinac added a fifth in the 50 freestyle, Karla Lessing was seventh in the 500, Karolina Bank was seventh in the 200 freestyle and Isabel Rich was ninth in the breastroke.
Elsewhere, Sabrina Rachjaibun took third in the 500 and fourth in the 200 IM for Legacy, which finished a program-best seventh. Among others, Sydney Bales was sixth in the 100 butterfly and third in the 100 backstroke.
The Lightning had gradually moved up the Class 5A standings since 2015. After sitting near bottom in 2015 and 2016, they placed inside the top-20 the previous three years with their best finish coming last season at 13th.
Boulder, meanwhile, took 15th on the strength of Emilia Culberson’s eighth-place finish in the 200 free and 15th-place finish in the 100 freestyle.