Luke Dinges can feel the energy every time he watches video of the conclusion of the 2018 Class 5A boys state swim meet.
The Regis Jesuit senior wasn’t at the Veterans’ Memorial Aquatic Center on that day four years ago, but he could appreciate the pandemonium created when the Raiders touched out Fossil Ridge in the 400 yard freestyle relay to secure the state championship.
Dinges, fellow senior Gio Aguirre and juniors Ronan Krauss and Hawkins Wendt found themselves in nearly the same din on the same deck May 14, but with decidedly less pressure. The program’s 23rd all-time state championship was already secured, so their performance was just the icing on the cake.
“I wasn’t even there, but watching that video always gives me the chills,” Dinges said of the 2018 final race that saw Elijah Warren, Ty Coen, Elliott Steinberg and Will Goodwin win by 0.33 of a second to rally past Fossil Ridge to the championship.
“Every year before the season starts, we rewatch that video and I get goosebumps,” he added. “I got the same ones today, even though I knew we had it in the bag. I still got the same nervous feeling like ‘this is it,’ and we did it.”
Dinges, Aguirre, Krauss and Wendt also beat a team from Fossil Ridge in the 400 freestyle relay, but did so by a margin of more than a second and without worry.
It certainly allowed head coach Nick Frasersmith to sit back and appreciate it more than the 2018 race that had him and everybody else in the pool area on the edge of their collective seats.
“We knew going into that 400 freestyle relay that even if we DQ’d, we would still win, so that was a little more comfortable than 2018, but we always wanted to walk out of here winning at least one event,” said Frasersmith, who was chosen as 5A’s Swim Coach of the Year.
“It kind of put the icing on the cake and brought it all together,” he added.
Indeed, in a major contrast to the 2018 state meet — in which the Raiders won a slew of events — this one came as the product of overwhelming depth.
Until the 400 freestyle relay, Regis Jesuit swimmers had been kept off the top spot of the medal podium in every event.
Aguirre had his bid for a second straight 100 yard freestyle title denied by Chatfield’s Tristen Davin — who finished more than a second in front of him — while Krauss saw Fort Collins’ Jack Ballard surge past him late to deny him the individual title in the 500 yard freestyle. The 200 yard freestyle relay team of Aguirre, Wendt, senior Mack Dugan and junior Carter Anderson also finished second.
It made Aguirre — who anchored the closing relay — cherish the end all the more.
“Going into finals with so many A finalists, we were expecting a few first places, but we didn’t really get that until the last event,” Aguirre said. “That was definitely disappointing. …It (the relay) was an amazing swim to say the least. I wanted to make all the guys proud with that last swim.”
Regis Jesuit’s depth was evident, especially in events like the 50 freestyle (four) and 200 freestyle (three), in which they had a host of finalists.
Aguirre, Dugan and Dinges all finished fourth or better in two individual events, Anderson and fellow juniors Charlie Klein and Truman Inglis scored in a pair events and Wendt supplemented a sixth-place finish in the 50 by swimming on all three relays, which finished first (400 freestyle), second (200 freestyle) and third (200 medley).
Senior Dylan Mullen earned points for Regis Jesuit with a seventh-place finish in the morning 1-meter diving competition.
“They came together as a group and swam for each other, so I couldn’t be more proud,” Frasersmith said.
The victory also made sure the senior class didn’t finish on the wrong side of team history.
They might have been the first group in school history graduate without winning a state championship after they were robbed of their sophomore year by the coronavirus pandemic and were distant runners-up to Cherry Creek as freshmen in 2019 and as juniors in 2021.
“There has never been a class at Regis Jesuit that has not won a state title, so if we would have lost, we would have broke that streak,” Dugan said. “Obviously, we did not lose. We won. It was because of all hard work everybody put in.”
Added Dinges: “It really took a big burden off of us. We came in with no experience winning a state championship, but we got it done. It was a long time coming.”
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports