THORNTON — Kate Doane was pacing all throughout warm-ups Friday.
Cheyenne Mountain boys' swimming came in as the projected favorite to take home the title, but visions of Silver Creek once again beating the Red-Tailed Hawks out for first place danced through the coach's head. Seven points are all that separated the two last year.
This time around, Doane's team, led by standouts from both heats — a near-requirement for winning a championship — came through for a 4A team title, edging out the Raptors by just 30.5 points.
Doane and her staff crunched the numbers Thursday night and followed along with each event. A point here, or a missed point there were what the group had to work with in keeping track of the team standings.
Her 'Cinderella team's' run last year may have been a surprise, but this year, she had expectations. Goals the team met, in stride.
"These guys have been wanting this since last year — for four years even," Doane said. "They've watched some of their literal brothers win state. (Junior) Ethan Carr's brother swam for us and they won state titles. These guys wanted that too, and every step along the way, we just said, 'This isn't it until the final dance.'"
Leading the group was senior Max Roslin. He captured a second-place finish in the 200-yard IM and another third-place spot in 100-yard backstroke.
Teammates, Carr and sophomore Xander Taylor finished fourth and third in the 100-yard butterfly and 200-yard freestyle, respectively. The latter captured fourth place in the 100-yard backstroke later.
As a relay quartet, the Hawks got second in both the opening, 200-yard medley and 200-yard freestyle.
It was only right that the team who loved being in the pool together, and thrived off one another's success, came together to form the top group.
"Beating Silver Creek shows our progression, as a team," Roslin said. "Last year, we were seeded something like sixth and were a Cinderella team who finished second. It shows the culture we have, and I'm just having fun. This is awesome."
After 11 events had passed, Doane and her team knew that all it had to do to clinch a title was finish the final event. The Hawks didn't need to win it, they didn't even need to finish near the top — just don't get disqualified.
As the tune, 'We are the Champions,' by Queen blared in the background, and the team shared a stretched smile throughout, the water dripping off them from their swim with the hardware was like the stress melting away.
The pacing at practice, just like the pacing at the final meet, all paid off. Doane got her steps in, her team got their strokes in, and the Hawks were state champs once more.
“It’s the best feeling in the world,” Doane said. “Jumping in the pool with my team is just a sense of relief and a sense of excitement. I’m just so proud of these guys.”
Discovery Canyon follows McCarty's lead, posts top-three finish
Discovery Canyon senior Quintin McCarty couldn't help but grimace. He wasn't irritated at other competitors — he even shook each of their hands during the podium ceremony. The North Carolina State commit was angry with himself for falling short of his goal.
Future Wolfpack teammate, David Curtiss, set the new national mark in the 50-yard freestyle last year at 19.11, and McCarty was hellbent on beating it. He fell just short, still capturing a new state record of 19.47 in the prelims, but finishing the finals with a first-place time of 19.48.
He added another top finish in the 100-yard freestyle with a mark of 43.23, which came just short of his now-state-record of 42.73 in the prelims. The Thunder, behind his lead, finished third in the team standings with 358 points.
"I had such a great experience," McCarty said. "This was only my second year swimming for Discovery Canyon. I learned so much and this sport, I owe it all to my parents and God. At the end of the day, they've helped me get where I am.
"Being able to help my team was amazing. If I can make anyone around me better, then that's the best."
Right beside McCarty in leading the Thunder was junior Adam Pannell. He won the 200-yard freestyle and added another second-place finish in the 100-yard butterfly. Both also aided the team's relay squad to a win in the 200-yard medley and 400-yard freestyle.
The Thunder gained points from McCarty, but swimmers like Pannell and junior Taylor Wagner — winner of the 500-yard freestyle — also gained added drive from the senior. He was the rising tide lifting Discovery Canyon.
"What's special about him is he brings everybody up," coach Joe Fanthrop said. "He earned the right to be a leader with his speed, and they got to see the details he worked on. Adam and Taylor and some of the young guys got to do the same with their own swimming."
Kadets take wings to the water
Air Academy finished seventh in the team standings with 182 points, and the Kadets benefited greatly from junior, Henry Stockton.
He earned third place in the 500-yard freestyle alongside teammate, sophomore Bo Moss who got fifth. Stockton matched Moss' finish in 200-yard freestyle, as well.
Senior Dakota Kinder also chipped in with his second-place finish in the 100-yard breaststroke — the area's top placer in the event.
Helping the team's points from the first heats was a second-place tally in the 400-yard freestyle relay.
Other local team finishers
20. Palmer (35.5)
24. Liberty (18)