Every time it looks like Regis Jesuit has the best boys swim team its ever had, the Raiders one-up themselves.
That was certainly the case again in 2014, when Regis Jesuit followed up a 2013 campaign for the ages with an even better one in winning its 19th Class 5A state championship in 20 years.
Eight members of a Raiders team that won the Class 5A state championship by a whopping 220 points at the Veterans’ Memorial Aquatic Center make up nearly the entire 2014 Aurora Sentinel All-City Boys Swim Team, which is based on state meet results.
Grandview junior sprinter James Boone overcame illness at the state meet to grab the last spot on the loaded all-city squad.
One of the common denominators of last season’s and this season’s Regis Jesuit juggernauts was senior Hennessey Stuart, who was chosen 5A Swimmer of the Year and also captured the Hoyt Brawner Award as the top swimmer/student at an earlier meet.
The North Carolina State-bound Stuart won state titles in two individual events (the 200 yard individual medley and 100 yard backstroke) and swam the opening leg on the all-senior 400 freestyle relay team to help lift the Raiders, who won six event titles to give Nick Frasersmith a victory in his first season as head coach taking over for dynastic architect Mike Doherty.
“Last year’s team was unbelievable, I did not expect this year’s team to step up like it did, but it raised the bar even higher,” Stuart said. “I can say now that this is the best team that’s set foot on this pool deck and I’m blessed and honored to be a part of it. ..Everything that’s happened for Regis is for a reason, it didn’t just fall in our laps. We’ve worked our butts off to get where we are at the end of the year. It just gets passed on and the freshmen see the expectations when they come in and hold each other accountable.
“We all just don’t show up and go fast…it’s all about team, tradition and training.”
The highlight of the meet came with the 400 freestyle relay, made up of the all-senior group of Stuart, Mitchell Bruckman, Christopher Dawson and Austin Phillips. The foursome touched the wall in 3 minutes, 0.84 seconds to set a Colorado state record, knocking off the seemingly-unbeatable 2013 mark of 3:00.97 set by the Regis Jesuit team of Hennessey Stuart and three Division I swimmers in Clark Smith (Texas), Zach Suter (Seton Hall) and Erik Biernat (Xavier).
Stuart came up a little short of setting an individual state record on the opening leg, but got the Raiders off to the kind of start they would need to finish it and his teammates all did their part to make it happen.
“Before we got on the blocks, everybody was cheering so loud that I think it pushed us faster than we’ve ever went,” Phillips said. “I knew it was going to be close, so I had to do everything I could being that last leg to make sure we could get it.”
Phillips, a University of Utah signee, also led city swimmers in the 200 freestyle (2nd) and 100 freestyle (5th).
Besides their parts on the record-setting relay team, the Iowa-bound Dawson (2nd in 500 freestyle) and Bruckman (3rd in 100 butterfly) paced Aurora individuals in one event each.
Both said they will never forget the final relay.
“That’s definitely a memory I’ll have forever; before the race all of us were huddled up before we walked out and it was cool with all four seniors, we talked to each other and said ‘this is our last race of high school, let’s put everything we have into it,” Dawson said. “We didn’t know if we could get that record since it was pretty incredible at that time, so it was something that was amazing to us, too. That’s not something that happens every day, so it was a perfect way to end the season.”
Added Bruckman: “Last year when they made that state record, it was like no way could that be broken again. But we seniors had an optimistic mindset and we made it count…the season was spectacular.”
Next year’s key group of seniors — including co-captains Quinlan Stuart, Christopher Morales and Will Pieseski — is ready to keep up the tradition.
Though he wasn’t happy with his times, Quinlan Stuart got to swim with his brother and Morales and Pieseski on the state-championship winning 200 medley relay, while he later won his first individual state title in the city-dominated 100 breaststroke.
“I’m happy I won the 100 breast, but I didn’t do what I wanted to time-wise,” said Stuart, who was more pleased with his fifth-place finish in the 200 IM.
Stuart acknowledges it will be “weird” without Hennessey on the team next year, but he expects the Raiders to continue to maintain the tradition of success.
“It was nice to see we weren’t relying on a certain class for our success and we’re getting a good freshman class coming in, so we should stay strong,” he said.
Pieseski, who scored individually in the sprint freestyles, is also ready to step to the forefront as a senior as so many Regis Jesuit swimmers before him have.
“I think you see the guys that come before you and you think ‘wow, they are so big and so fast and so strong,’ then you get there and you realize, ‘hey, I’m one of those same guys now,'” he said.
Morales swam on the winning 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays and relished the Raiders’ annual post-championship celebration of diving into the pool together.
“It was definitely an awesome feeling jumping in to the pool with all my friends afterwards; that was probably the best moment of my life right there,” Morales said.
Another junior, diver Kyle Goodwin, set himself up for a historic run of four straight 5A state championship in diving after winning his third handily. Goodwin’s total of 559.25 points put him 71.60 ahead of the runner-up finisher.
“It was actually more than I wanted; I did well overall and I hit a lot of my tougher dives, so it worked out real well in the end,” said Goodwin, who was recently named a 1-meter All-American by the National Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association for the third straight season.
“Winning four (state championships) was something I was aiming for and now that it’s a lot closer, it’s more tangible,” he added.
Boone said he battled mononucleosis during state, one of the reasons he ended up competing in the two shortest freestyle.
Even without his full energy level, Boone finished a city-best eighth in the 50 freestyle and came in fifth in the 100, one spot behind Phillips. Boone also swam on both the Wolves’ 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams that placed fifth and fourth, respectively.
“I was a little impaired during state, but for that I did pretty well,” said Boone, who finished 11th in the 500 freestyle and 14th in the 200 free in 2013.
Despite the graduation of West Virginia-bound standout Triston Mosby, Boone also expects another outstanding season for Grandview next year with fellow junior Alex Turner and sophomore Robin Kuebler set to return and some young swimmers ready to step forward.
“Losing Triston is a shame, but hopefully we can pick it up without him and place even better next year,” he said.
Courtney Oakes is Sports Editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. Facebook: Aurora Prep Sentinel
2014 AURORA SENTINEL ALL-CITY BOYS SWIM TEAM
200 yard individual medley & 100 yard backstroke: Hennessey Stuart, Regis Jesuit, sr.**; 100 yard freestyle & 200 yard freestyle: Austin Phillips, Regis Jesuit, sr.; 50 yard freestyle: James Boone, Grandview, jr.; 1-meter diving: Kyle Goodwin, Regis Jesuit, jr.*; 100 yard butterfly: Mitchell Bruckman, Regis Jesuit, sr.; 500 yard freestyle: Christopher Dawson, Regis Jesuit, sr.; 100 yard breaststroke: Quinlan Stuart, Regis Jesuit, jr.*; RELAYS — 200 yard medley: Regis Jesuit (Hennessey Stuart, Quinlan Stuart, Christopher Morales, Will Pieseski)*; 200 yard freestyle: Regis Jesuit (Will Pieseski, Christopher Morales, Christopher Dawson, Austin Phillips)*; 400 yard freestyle: Regis Jesuit (Hennessey Stuart, Mitchell Bruckman, Christopher Dawson, Austin Phillips)*
* — State champion
HONORABLE MENTION: Cristian Adams, jr., Regis Jesuit (100 backstroke); Simon Barshay, soph., Regis Jesuit (100 butterfly); Josh Bedford, sr., Cherokee Trail (200 individual medley & 100 breaststroke); Devin Bellamy, soph., Smoky Hill (1-meter diving); Nicholas Birney, jr., Regis Jesuit (100 breaststroke); James Boone, jr., Grandview (100 freestyle); Mitchell Bruckman, sr., Regis Jesuit (200 freestyle); Christopher Dawson, sr., Regis Jesuit (200 freestyle); Christopher Hartman, sr., Smoky Hill (1-meter diving); Juhan Hong, sr., Smoky Hill (200 freestyle & 500 freestyle); Theodore Koerner, jr., Regis Jesuit (100 breaststroke); Alex Kohlman, jr., Smoky Hill (200 IM & 100 freestyle); TJ Konde, sr., Cherokee Trail (100 butterfly & 100 backstroke); Robin Kuebler, soph., Grandview (200 freestyle); Matt Mauser, sr., Regis Jesuit (1-meter diving); Aidan Mercer, soph., Smoky Hill (100 breaststroke); Christopher Morales, jr., Regis Jesuit (50 freestyle & 100 butterfly); Triston Mosby, sr., Grandview (200 IM & 100 breaststroke); Bruce Nerheim, sr., Regis Jesuit (200 IM & 500 freestyle); Will Pieseski, jr., Regis Jesuit (50 freestyle & 100 freestyle); Scott Stellick, sr., Overland (1-meter diving); Quinlan Stuart, jr., Regis Jesuit (200 IM); Garrett Suter, jr., Regis Jesuit (100 freestyle & 100 backstroke); Alex Turner, jr., Grandview (200 IM); RELAYS — Cherokee Trail 200 medley relay (TJ Konde, Seung Kim, Josh Bedford, Kamden Weis); Smoky Hill 200 medley relay (Joey Pucciarelli, Aidan Mercer, Nathan Hoskins, Ethan Evans); Grandview 200 freestyle relay (Triston Mosby, James Boone, Alex Turner, Robin Kuebler); Smoky Hill 200 freestyle relay (Alex Kohlman, Connor Salazar, Ethan Evans, Juhan Hong); Grandview 400 freestyle relay (Triston Mosby, Alex Turner, Robin Kuebler, James Boone); Smoky Hill 400 freestyle relay (Alex Kohlman, Derek Liu, Aidan Mercer, Juhan Hong); Cherokee Trail 400 freestyle relay (TJ Konde, Garrett Shudinis, Eric Daugherty, Josh Bedford)