GREELEY — When fourth-ranked Silver Creek boys swimming won the Class 4A state championship in 2021, the Raptors did so by relying on their depth in every event. This year, they look even more dangerous for next week’s state finals, especially after winning the Northern League championships on Saturday at the Greeley Recreation Center with 948 points.
Second-place Windsor lagged behind at 759 points.
“We’re taking the largest team we’ve ever taken (to state). We got another one (Friday) for 23 state qualifiers. It’s the largest team Silver Creek’s ever had,” head coach Debbie Stewart said. “A lot of them haven’t tapered, haven’t shaved down. They’re saving it for next week. They’ve got the times to come in and be up there, so we’re just hoping for more and more improvement for next weekend.”
With the state meet just days away, set to take place on May 12-13 at the Veterans Memorial Aquatics Center, the Raptors are confident in their ability to compete with top teams in Discovery Canyon and Cheyenne Mountain. Saturday’s results didn’t hurt.
Jake Gutru won the 100-yard breaststroke (55.46 seconds) as Evan Welding took the gold in the 100 butterfly (53.42). James Story, a freshman, won both the 100 freestyle (48.43) and the 200 free (1:46.27). While he believes those two events are his strongest, he made it his goal to qualify for state in every single event during his first year in high school.
He just missed the cut in the 100 breast, but made it in with the rest. He credits his club swimming regimen for the improvements he’s seen from the start of the season, but is still trying to get used to the high school meets.
“It’s super different. Events are super close,” Story said. “Normally for club, you rest in between, you warm up again, but I like the team energy. It’s nice having all the boys cheer you on right before and during, it’s fun.”
In it for the long haul
When Nathan McCracken first made his way onto Broomfield’s roster as a freshman last year, he made an immediate impact in helping the Eagles up their stock.
His club experience and versatility proved invaluable.
“He’s a little weapon that I can use where I need him,” head coach Emily Austin said. “When you swim different teams, they have strengths in different areas so you just got to put those guys where you need them to be.”
On Saturday, he finished second in the 500 free with a time of 4:57.17 after hitting a 4:55.61 in prelims. He earned a similar silver mark in the 200 IM with a 2:02.18. He’s excited to see what he and ninth-ranked Eagles can do next week.
“Last year, I didn’t place as well at leagues and now, I guess, I’m placing better. I’d say, all around, I’ve probably improved the main events I’ve been doing,” McCracken said. “I think the team can do well. I think state will be good because it’s a different pool and VMAC’s really nice. I think there’s a lot of energy at state because there will be a lot of people.”
Making the final cut
Longmont junior Braden Wormke had never experienced a normal state meet before. His first season was canceled due to COVID-19, and last year’s meet only took the top 30 boys in each event in the state.
This year, he knew he didn’t have much room for error if he wanted to qualify in his 100 butterfly. He was running out of time, but he had been just on the cusp of breaking the necessary 1:01.00 to punch his ticket.
When he finally achieved the feat during prelims on Friday with a 1:00.41, he punched the water in celebration before joining his teammates out of the pool.
“I’ve been working for it all season and I’ve been like tenths of seconds off all season so just to finally get that cut is so much relief,” Wormke said. “After, with my teammates, it was a lot of excitement, a lot of jumping around.”
Wormke is just one of a few returners on this year’s Trojan team, but has been instrumental in helping to elevate a squad that housed just a handful of people in 2021. This year, they’re on the up-and-up.
“Out of the 15 new guys we got this season, probably 11 of them had never swam competitively before and some of them have made those state cuts this year,” head coach Michelle Scott said. “For them to get their friends on board and committed to this within just this year span has been phenomenal for the program.”