Friendly area swim rivals excel during prelims to set up 5A state finals showdown

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THORNTON • In a crowded, noisy Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center, it was difficult for an average swimmer to stand out.

Area seniors Josh Lenzmeier of Liberty and Charlie Sturgeon of Palmer showed they are definitely not average at the 5A state boys' swimming championships on Friday.

Lenzmeier broke his school record in the 100-yard breaststroke by placing second in Friday's preliminaries in Thornton with a time of 55.68 seconds, merely .06 seconds behind Regis Jesuit's Elijah Warren (55.62) to set up what promises to be one of the great finals of these championships.

It will be the final race between Lenzmeier and Sturgeon, two friendly rivals who are both headed to college on swim scholarships. The two entered the state meet with the top two seed times.

"Elijah is a very good swimmer," said Lenzmeier, an Alabama signee. "(Cherry Creek senior) John (Strain) and (Fossil Ridge freshman) Josh Pales and Charlie are all strong swimmers. It should be a great final. I am really happy with my day. Our team did well and we all supported each other."

Sturgeon, a George Washington signee, set a personal high-school best (57.78) by placing fifth in the 100 breaststroke prelims, about two hours after he set a school record in the 200 individual medley with a sixth-best time of 1:54.81.

"I am really looking forward to (Saturday's) finals," Sturgeon said. "I have developed a good competitive friendship with the Liberty kid. We always push each other to get better so it will be great to see what happens one final time."

With a strong divers contingent entering competition on Saturday, Lewis-Palmer is in the best position of any area program to place in the top 10 in the team standings thanks to having the most relays and individual entrants advancing to the second day.

Since Friday's competition was all prelims, there were no team points awarded.

"We are happy with how we did," Rangers coach Alan Arata said. "Last year we came into this seeded low and climbed in every event. This year we did even better and that's big for the team race."

The Lewis-Palmer 200 and 400 freestyle relays both placed eighth to reach the championship finals.

Several Rangers also reached the consolation finals (places 9-16): junior Nick Orie, 50 free, 100 free; Nathan Sawer, 100 butterfly, 100 backstroke; Joe Day, 100 butterfly; and Breck Donahue, 100 freestyle. The 200 medley relay team of Donahue, Ben Snediker, Sawer and Strydr Silverberg also made the consolation final.