Brendan Eckerman put the numeral one beside his name in the list of results at the state swimming meet and the senior helped his Cherry Creek team end a long drought.
Eckerman was appearing for the fourth season in the Class 5A state meet championship, held May 16-17 at the VMAC in Thornton.
In the past, he has been in the finals in various events but never a state champion — but all that changed when he concentrated on being a freestyle sprinter this season.
Eckerman won the 50-yard freestyle, the 100-yard freestyle and swam the anchor legs on the Bruins’ state champion 200- and 400-yard relay teams.
He helped Creek rack up 520 points to win the state title. Defending champion Regis Jesuit was second with 394 points followed by third-place Arapahoe with 251 points. It was the 11th state title for the Bruins but the first since 1994.
“I’ve been waiting a long time to see that number ‘1’ after my name,” said Eckerman, who will be swimming at the University of Wisconsin next season. “It feels amazing. I was a little bit more of a favorite in the 100 so I think the 50 felt a little more special. I was racing a good friend Josh Pales (Fossil Ridge) and I barely out touched him.
“The 200 freestyle relay was a ton of fun. I had a little catching up to down in the 200. I knew when I hit the water in the 400 that I wasn’t going to let anybody catch me. The team championship has been 25 years in the making. We had a ton of alumni support in the stands watching us. You can’t win a state meet because of one person. The reason we won is because of our depth. We had swimmers, more than one swimmer, in every single final.”
Eckerman won the 50 freestyle in 20.69 and the 100 with a time of 45.62. Nikolas Silolahti, Tommy Salvetti, Blake Jorgens and Eckerman captured the 200 freestyle relay in 1:24.73 to edge a foursome from Arapahoe. Silolahti, Lars Hanna, Bryce Ortanes and Eckerman were on the winning 400 relay team that was timed in 3:04.20.
Creek’s 200 medley relay team of Jake Russell, Spencer Smith, Hanna and Ortanes were state champions with a 1:32.00 clocking in the first race of the finals. And Silolahti had a big impact as he finished second behind Eckerman in the 100 freestyle as Creek garnered 45 points in that event.
“We’ve been working toward this all year,” said Creek boys swimming coach Chris Loftis. “It’s a very special, unified group and they swim for each other. It was the most guys come back to swim in finals that we have ever had. Everything came together at the right time.”
Regis senior William Goodwin won the 200 IM in 1:48.57 and the 100 breaststroke in 54.67. Regis sophomore Quinn Henninger was the diving champion with a total of 606.50 points.
“I’m very proud of all of us,” Goodwin said. “I got as many points for the team as I could so I’m pretty happy. It felt good to be on the top of the podium.”
The other double individual 5A champion was Legacy’s Lukas Miller, who won the 200 freestyle in a Colorado and state record time of 1:35.72 and the 500 freestyle in 4:35.22.
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