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Boys swimming: Silver Creek using 2021 team title as added motivation

Silver Creek High School's Caleb Hendricks ...
Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer
Silver Creek High School’s Caleb Hendricks swims during practice at the St. Vrain Valley Schools Aquatics Facility at Silver Creek High School in Longmont on Monday, March 14, 2022.

Silver Creek boys swimming wasn’t supposed to win the Class 4A team state championship in 2021. After all, the Raptors didn’t have a single athlete finish in the top-three of any individual or relay event.

In true team fashion, and in a dramatic way, the Raptors relied on their depth and expertise to carry them to victory. It all came down to the final event.

“We had a feeling that we would win conferences but once we made it to state, it was like, ‘All right, we’re all just going to try as hard as we all can individually’ and, slowly, throughout the meet, we started to look at the (results) and say, ‘Oh my gosh, we actually have a chance to win this,’” senior Jake Gutru said. “As a team, we all rallied around that and we were cheering for that. Towards the end, we were like, ‘If we beat this one specific team in the last event — it was the 400 free relay — if we beat this one other school, we can do it.’”

That’s exactly what they did.

Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer
LONGMONT, CO – MARCH 14:Silver Creek High School’s Jake Gutru swims during practice at the St. Vrain Valley Schools Aquatics Facility at Silver Creek High School in Longmont on Monday, March 14, 2022. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

In the end, once everything was tallied up, the Raptors pulled off the upset over Cheyenne Mountain — a team that had four top-three finishes — by a tight seven points.

“If we had one or two swimmers that only got that one point — if they didn’t get that 20th place — we wouldn’t have won,” head coach Debbie Stewart said.

That stunning victory paved the way for a strong offseason for Silver Creek, as the boys saw their motivation levels increase dramatically. Many began to swim year-round when they weren’t before, and others hit the gym to try to build their strength outside of the water.

Mead High senior Jacob Dowlin, who placed fifth in the 1-meter dive last year, is taking the state meet experience in stride as he prepares for what he can expect during his final year of the high school competition. He’s been lifting on his own accord to help hone his dives.

“We’ve already come this far and I’ve already accomplished all that I’ve wanted to,” Dowlin said. “I’m not putting any pressure on myself. Even if I don’t succeed as well as I want to, that’s OK. We didn’t expect to get as far as we did last year either. Hopefully, we can do that this year, surprise ourselves. Hopefully, I can surprise myself also.”

Silver Creek returns all but three athletes from the 2021 season and has added a strong core of younger boys to the mix. Sophomore Caleb Hendricks made the jump over from club swimming to join the high school team. He believes it’s making him a better athlete in the long run and takes pride in knowing that 12 of the Raptors have already qualified for the state meet in just the first few meets of the season.

“It feels great to qualify for state in the first couple of weeks, but as the season goes on, it gets more and more tiring,” Hendricks said. “It’s a lot different than club swimming. Club swimming, you just get a lot more rest at meets and competitions. You rest up and you don’t have about two minutes before an event. Here, it’s back-to-back-to-back swims and you start to feel it. It’s definitely more of a workout, but definitely more enjoyable too.”

Cream of the crop: 2021 all-region team
First team (Name, 2020-21 class, school)
Legacy 200 medley relay (Sam White, So.; Max Kulbida, Jr.; Kyle Raskay, Jr., Jack Tran, Jr.); Pierce Bigelow, Sr., Silver Creek (200 free); Raskay, Jr., Legacy (200 IM); Tegan Barrier, So., Legacy (50 free); Jacob Dowlin, Jr., Silver Creek (diving); Aidan Shepston, Jr., Legacy (100 butterfly); Luke Corson, So., Monarch (100 free); White, So., Legacy (500 free); Legacy 200 free relay (Tran; Thomas Nguyen, So.; Shepston, Barrier); Tran, Legacy (100 back); Layton Sealman, Fr., Fairview (100 breast); Legacy 400 free relay (White, Barrier, Shepston, Raskay).

Honorable mention
Aidan Bailey, Fr., Legacy; Lucas Becker, Jr.; Broomfield; Camden Burke, Jr., Fairview; Ian Curd, Sr., Silver Creek; Kynan Desouza-Chen, Jr., Fairview; Joshua Dowlin, So., Silver Creek; Luke Filion, Sr., Monarch; Jack Fischmann, Fr., Silver Creek; Jake Gutru, Jr., Silver Creek; Calvin Hammond, So., Fairview; Connor Hassert, Sr., Silver Creek; Liam Heine, So., Monarch; JC Holmes, Fr., Monarch; Andrew Jones, Sr., Fairview; Jackson Jupille, Sr., Monarch; Hudson Kammerer, So., Silver Creek; Nicholas Kastner, Fr., Broomfield; James Kershaw, Fr., Fairview; Nathan Kral, Jr., Legacy; Drew Lebsack, Jr., Fairview; Luke Leoni, So., Boulder; Brandon Lis, Jr., Silver Creek; Daniel MacLaughlin, Sr., Monarch; Teague Mayer, Jr., Boulder; Nathan McCracken, Fr., Broomfield; Kai Parker, So., Boulder; Ryan Shaffer, Jr., Monarch; Patrick Vo, Jr., Monarch; Vincent Vu, Jr., Silver Creek; Connor Wagner, Jr., Silver Creek; Zachary Waldrip, Sr., Fairview; Evan Welding, So., Silver Creek; Sean Wyatt, So., Silver Creek.

Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer
LONGMONT, CO – MARCH 14:Silver Creek swimmers warm up before practice at the St. Vrain Valley Schools Aquatics Facility at Silver Creek High School in Longmont onon Monday, March 14, 2022. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)