Published: March 9, 2014
The first state title broke a long dry spell, and the second put the Air Academy boys' swimming team in elite company.
Thoughts of a third title come May have the Kadets contemplating their spot in school lore years from now.
"I think it would definitely be a great addition to our school's legacy, to win three straight," Kadets senior distance swimmer Brennan Mays said. "That would really make it stand out more than two. We're still cautious about being overconfident, and we know we still have to train hard and keep focused."
In 2012, Air Academy, led by senior captain Justin Dearden, claimed the school's first team swimming and diving state title in 13 years. A year later, a decorated senior class, highlighted by Carson Shollenbarger and three-time state-champ Devon Davis, led the way to a repeat title.
This season, it's Mays' turn.
"Brennan does not want to be that senior or captain that doesn't keep it going," seventh-year Kadets coach Scotty Newell said. "There's a pressure and responsibility that comes with that, and it's a super position for Brennan to lead them."
Cheyenne Mountain (2000-02) and Thompson Valley (2005-07) are the only teams to string together three straight 4A boys' team titles since the Colorado High School Activities Association split the sport into separate classes in 1991.
With the state finals so far down the line, Newell doesn't feel the need to put any pressure on his team by constantly talking about history.
His team already is.
"They talk about it, and it says more about the guys and the culture they've established on this team than what I've done," Newell said. "It's very cool they see the value in it, and they see the opportunity they have. It's rare. Over the years, everyone has stepped up and took part in it. We all have ownership in it."
And if the Kadets fall short, and this senior class departs Air Academy with two titles, Mays will accept the results.
"We want to make this a great season, to work hard, stay focused and have fun with it," Mays said. "Winning is great, but it's not everything. The whole time, I've had a positive experience. Our freshman year, we didn't come close to the podium but we had fun and represented our school well. That's the most important thing."