Cheyenne Mountain takes titles in seven events to win third straight team crown

0
Photo - Anchor swimmer Reece MacRenato celebrates after helping Cheyenne Mountain win the 200-yard medley relay at the 4A state swimming and diving championships at the Air Force Academy on Saturday, May 20, 2017.  Photo by Jeff Kearney.
Anchor swimmer Reece MacRenato celebrates after helping Cheyenne Mountain win the 200-yard medley relay at the 4A state swimming and diving championships at the Air Force Academy on Saturday, May 20, 2017. Photo by Jeff Kearney.

The celebratory dip wasn’t enough for a few Cheyenne Mountain boys’ swimmers following a third straight team championship Saturday at the USAFA Cadet Natatorium.

So they scaled the scores of steps to ascend to the 10-meter platform and enjoyed the ride down, all the way to a big splash and cheers from teammates, friends and family.

Only a handful actually got to jump before being called down by Air Force staff, but the point had been made long before that. Once again, everyone is still looking up at Cheyenne Mountain.

Behind victories in the 50-yard freestyle and 500 freestyle by Daniel Carr and a sweep of the three relay events, the Indians simply overpowered their opposition. Kyle Leach and Jerry Birnbaum added individual triumphs in the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke, respectively, for Cheyenne Mountain, which racked up 337 points.

Valor Christian was its nearest competition, 98 points off the pace.

“I think it’s cool that we do have so much depth that so many of our kids contributed,” Indians coach Kate Doane said. “It’s just not one or two kids. It’s awesome to be able to spread out our guys in so many events, and they fought so hard for this. It’s such an awesome day, and it starts with great leaders like Jerry and Daniel.”

Birnbaum and fellow senior Westin Stieglitz paced the 200 medley relay team to victory in the opener, then Carr and junior Kyle Leach powered Cheyenne Mountain to the top of the podium in the 200 freestyle relay.

The four then combined to end the event in style, long after the team title had been clinched, shattering the 400 freestyle relay record the same foursome set two years ago.

By the time Carr touched and looked up at the scoreboard, the rest of the field still had half a lap remaining. The winning time of 3 minutes, 2.67 seconds nearly broke the state record (3:00.84) but took down the previous mark of 3:06.60.

“It’s so much fun to swim the anchor on the 400 free relay,” Carr said. “The intensity is up and the energy is up. You just try to swim as fast as you can. You can’t argue with a four-second drop.”

Earlier, Carr took first in the shortest and longest events in high school swimming, resuming his dominance started as a sophomore when he set state-meet records in the 200 individual medley and 100 freestyle at the 2015 meet.

He did not swim for the team last season as he was preparing for the U.S. Olympic Trials.

“It’s a process to get where we got today," Carr said. "We’ve been working at it for three months, and it’s the total team that makes it come together. People like Jerry and Kyle, their attitudes make me want to swim fast.”

In between, Leach touched first in the 100 butterfly after finishing second in the 200 freestyle.

Then Birnbaum, in between swimming in two relays and the 100 free, rallied in the last lap of the 100 backstroke, passing two competitors late to win his first individual title in his last high school race.

“I didn’t have a great swim in prelims, but I made it back, and that was the important part,” Birnbaum said. “I swam the 100 free right before, and I did good there (fourth place) and had confidence going into the backstroke.”