In one week, Discovery Canyon jumped two spots in the CoPrepSwim 4A state rankings - and from a peek at the Cheyenne Mountain Invite team results - it’s not hard to see why.
It also poses the question - how high will the Thunder climb this season?
Saturday, Discovery Canyon claimed the Cheyenne Mountain Invite championship with a whopping 457 points - beating the second-place team, Legacy, by more than 140 points.
With 15 finishes in the top six, including three first-place finishes, the Thunder dominated the field of 15 schools.
“I was pretty confident in what we would do against our conference teams, but the Legacy, and Valor and even Pine Creek, we don’t see them frequently and I didn’t really know what to expect, but I didn’t expect this,” Discovery Canyon coach Dave Burgess said. “The guys really dug deep and swam their hearts out.”
WATCH: @ThndrSports wins the 400 free relay as Braden Whitmarsh passes Legacy after being behind by two body lengths.— Lindsey Smith (@LindseySquints) April 14, 2018
Anchor Tommy Rauchut puts distance between DC and Legacy for a win in 3:17.71. #copreps pic.twitter.com/vswsxx3iiD
Tommy Rauchut, Braden Whitmarsh and Robert Clayton had a solid day in the pool with multiple top-three finishes each, but it was the DC divers and distance swimmers that stole the show, as three placed in the top six in each event.
Whitmarsh won the 500 freestyle, beating the field by four seconds with a time of 4:53.18, followed by Adam Vogt in third at 5:06.53 and Chance Ricca in sixth with a time of 5:23.21.
“This is probably the strongest team we have had - it’s not the biggest team - but it’s strongest,” Burgess said. “We’ve got strength in almost every event and that carries over into our relays as well. I’m going to graduate four guys, which will hurt, but we have a lot of younger guys making contributions too.”
In the one-meter dive competition, senior Brendan Byrnes battled with 5A state favorite Aric Althouse of Lewis-Palmer. Although Byrnes fell short of a first-place finish, he broke the former meet and pool record, which has stood since 2004 with a second-place score of 538.65.
Sean McDonough placed fourth for Discovery Canyon with a score of 435.20, followed by Jad Khalek, who finished with 362.25 points.
“This season and last season (Byrnes) really blossomed, and I don’t think a meet has gone by where he hasn’t broken some sort of record,” Burgess said. “But Sean and Chad really rose to the occasion this year too, it’s unfortunate they all graduate this year. Diving is that event that it’s tough to recruit for, and when you get good divers it’s such a great thing to have.”
Rauchut claimed a first-place finish in the 50 free in 22.25, beating out Pueblo County’s John Plutt by 0.11 seconds and placed third in the 100 free in 49.13. Rauchut also anchored the 200 and 400 freestyle for Discovery Canyon. The 200 free relay team placed third in 1:31.94, and the 400 relay team closed out the meet with a spectacular come-from-behind win in 3:16.71.
Whitmarsh placed second in the 200 IM in 1:58.27, followed by Clayton in 2:01.18. Clayton later placed second in the 100 butterfly in 53.13 and joined Whitmarsh and Rachut in the 400 relay.
Whitmarsh and Clayton, Brian Hobbs and Andrew McGill, who took third in the 100 back (54.83), finished third in the 200 medley relay.
Lewis-Palmer finished third with 313 points. The Rangers were in second place before the 400 free relay, but got jumped by Legacy who grabbed some late points with its second-place finish in the final event.
Pine Creek followed in fourth with 296 points, followed by Cheyenne Mountain in 5th.
Coronado (6th, 264 points), and Air Academy (10th, 147) rounded out the top 10. Fountain-Fort Carson placed 12th with 99 points, followed by Doherty (13th, 80) and Palmer (14th, 75).