Even for itself, the Regis Jesuit boys swim team had a phenomenal season in 2013.
Sure, the Raiders had won state championships before — 17 in the previous 18 years — but this season’s team set a whole new bar for coach Mike Doherty’s powerhouse pool program.
A briefly unsettling new environment for the state meet in Grand Junction gave way to Regis Jesuit dominance, as the Raiders steadied themselves to post a 159- point win over Cherry Creek when two days of competition concluded at Colorado Mesa University.
Seven members of Regis Jesuit’s loaded team — six of whom won an individual state title or swam on a winning relay — make up most of the 2013 Aurora Sentinel All-City Boys Swim Team, which is based on performance at the state swim meet.
Smoky Hill junior Juhan Hong takes the final spot on the All-City team.
Junior Hennessey Stuart — who won his first individual state championship and helped Regis Jesuit set new team records in all three relays over the course of the season — came away impressed by the caliber of this season’s team.
“I do believe we are the fastest team to come to this school, and that’s a high bar,” Stuart said. “In front of all these banners that really set the tone and tradition, to have us jump that bar and set it even higher is fantastic.”
Regis Jesuit had unrivaled depth this season — 24 swimmers/divers appeared in the state meet, 21 of whom placed in at least one event, while seven other qualifiers couldn’t make it because of entry limits — plus top-end power in Stuart and senior Clark Smith.
Both swam in the U.S. Olympic Trials last summer and had outstanding high school seasons. They combined for three individual state championships and teamed on the Raiders’ state record-setting 400 yard freestyle relay.
Doherty called Smith — who signed with NCAA power University of Texas, where both of his parents starred in the pool in the 1980s — a “man among boys” this season and the towering, lanky star put the finishing touches on an outstanding prep career by winning state titles in the 100 yard butterfly and 200 yard freestyle.
Smith set the Colorado state record in both events, recording a mark in the 200 freestyle (1 minute, 36.73 seconds) in the championship finals and a standard of 46.54 seconds in the prelims of the butterfly, which he won for the fourth season in a row.
Smith also swam on the winning 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams, pushing his career championship haul to 10 — five individually and five with relay teams — plus three team titles in four seasons with Regis Jesuit. He made the All-City first team as an individual and relay swimmer in all four seasons.
Stuart captured his elusive first state championship in the 200 yard individual medley, an event Regis Jesuit dominated with four swimmers in the championship final, including Stuart’s sophomore brother, Quinlan, along with senior Tim Smith and junior Bruce Nerheim.
Hennessey Stuart won the 200 IM by a full second in an Automatic All-American time of 1:49.94 and led the way as the Raiders racked up major points in the event.
A slow first turn in the 100 backstroke kept him from winning a second state championship, as Cherry Creek star Daryl Turner beat him to the wall by 0.22 of a second. Both Stuart and Turner clocked identical times of 47.80 seconds (Stuart in prelims, Turner in finals), so both came away with a share of the Colorado and 5A state meet record. Stuart topped Aurora backstrokers at state for the third consecutive season, as he tied for third as a freshman in 2011 and came in fourth last season.
Sophomore Kyle Goodwin won his second straight diving title, becoming the first repeat 5A state diving champion since another Regis Jesuit star — Sean Moore — won in 2006 and 2007.
Goodwin and junior teammate Matt Mauser finished 1-2 again in the standings, but it tightened up this time. Last season’s cushion was 46 points for Goodwin, but just 2.9 points this time.
The duo led a dominating performance for coach Taylor Roberts on the diving board, as the Raiders piled up a total of 50 points in the event as Christopher Clayton and Charlie Marks finished 10th and 11th, respectively. Only Lewis-Palmer (3), Cherokee Trail (2) and Denver East (2) also had multiple scorers in diving.
Xavier-bound senior Erik Biernat took an Aurora-best third in the 50 freestyle and swam on all three of Regis Jesuit’s relay teams — which also included the second-place 200 medley in addition to the championship-winning 200 and 400 freestyle teams — to make the All-City first team for a third consecutive season.
Biernat was seventh after prelims in the 50 and was the only swimmer from a city team to make the championship finals, where he moved up four spots with a time of 21.26 seconds.
Senior Zach Suter, a Seton Hall signee, also swam a leg on all three of the Raiders’ relays to also make the All-City team for a third straight time. Individually, Suter topped city swimmers in the 100 freestyle by placing fifth with a time of 46.90.
In his breakout season, sophomore Quinlan Stuart made two championship finals, including an impressive third-place showing in the 100 breaststroke, where he kept pace with winner Nick Hatanaka of Loveland and Cherry Creek’s John Mattern — both seniors – for most of the race.
Stuart — who was seeded ninth on the pre-meet psych sheet — third-place finish was just in front of another Aurora swimmer, Smoky Hill freshman Aidan Mercer, who placed fourth.
Quinlan Stuart also contributed to the 200 medley relay team along with his brother, Hennessey, plus Biernat and Suter.
Junior Jesse Suchomel kept the family name alive on the All-City team, following in the footsteps of brothers Bryce and Luke in recent years.
Suchomel swam on the 200 freestyle relay team that set the Colorado and 5A state meet record with a time of 1 minute, 22.74 seconds and also scored twice individually in the consolation finals of the 50 and 100 freestyles.
Smoky Hill had the next-best season among Aurora teams, as coach Scott Cohen’s team placed eighth in the team standings with very few seniors on the roster.
Hong played a big part in that team result, making the championship finals in both of his individual events — the 200 and 500 freestyles — and swimming on the Buffaloes’ 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams, which each placed 11th.
Distance events were Hong’s specialty and he was the city’s best finisher in the 500 freestyle. He touched the wall in a career-best third place with an Automatic All-American time of 4:34.54, nearly a full second ahead of Regis Jesuit’s Christopher Dawson. Hong came into state seeded third in the event.
Hong added an eighth-place result in the 200 freestyle, moving up two places from his pre-state seed.
Reach Sports Editor Courtney Oakes at [email protected] or 303-750-7555
2013 AURORA SENTINEL ALL-CITY BOYS SWIM TEAM
200 yard freestyle, 100 yard butterfly: Clark Smith, sr., Regis Jesuit**; 200 yard individual medley, 100 backstroke: Hennessey Stuart, jr., Regis Jesuit*; 50 freestyle: Erik Biernat, sr., Regis Jesuit; Diving: Kyle Goodwin, soph., Regis Jesuit*; 100 freestyle: Zach Suter, sr., Regis Jesuit; 500 freestyle: Juhan Hong, jr., Smoky Hill; 100 breaststroke: Quinlan Stuart, soph., Regis Jesuit; RELAYS: 200 yard medley relay: Hennessey Stuart, Quinlan Stuart, Erik Biernat and Zach Suter, Regis Jesuit; 200 yard freestyle relay: Clark Smith, Zach Suter, Jesse Suchomel and Erik Biernat, Regis Jesuit*; 400 yard freestyle relay: Clark Smith, Zach Suter, Hennessey Stuart and Erik Biernat, Regis Jesuit*
* — State champion
HONORABLE MENTION: Cristian Adams, soph., Regis Jesuit; Josh Bedford, jr., Cherokee Trail; Nicholas Birney, soph., Regis Jesuit; James Boone, soph., Grandview; Mitchell Bruckman, jr., Regis Jesuit; Christopher Clayton, sr., Regis Jesuit; Christopher Dawson, jr., Regis Jesuit; Brady Garvin, sr., Cherokee Trail; Chris Hartman, jr., Smoky Hill; Theodore Koerner, Regis Jesuit; TJ Konde, jr., Cherokee Trail; Eric Lammon, fr., Cherokee Trail; Mason Markle, sr., Smoky Hill; Charlie Marks, sr., Regis Jesuit; Matt Mauser, jr., Regis Jesuit; Aidan Mercer, fr., Smoky Hill; Triston Mosby, soph., Grandview; Bruce Nerheim, jr., Regis Jesuit; Austin Phillips, jr., Regis Jesuit; William Pieseski, soph., Regis Jesuit; Tim Smith, sr., Regis Jesuit; Ethan Stanley, Regis Jesuit; Jesse Suchomel, jr., Regis Jesuit; Garrett Suter, soph., Regis Jesuit; RELAYS: Cherokee Trail 200 yard medley (TJ Konde, Josh Bedford, Mitchell Stieg, Kamden Weis); Grandview 200 freestyle (Triston Mosby, Alex Turner, Robin Kuebler, James Boone) and 400 yard freestyle (Triston Mosby, Alex Turner, Robin Kuebler, James Boone); Smoky Hill 200 yard medley (Adithya Mohan, Aidan Mercer, Mason Markle, Alex Kohlman), 200 freestyle (Alex Kohlman, Mason Markle, Evan Dorrough, Juhan Hong) and 400 freestyle (Alex Kohlman, Juhan Hong, Derek Liu, Aidan Mercer)