While the girls team from Desert Mountain was blessed with the Midas touch and came away with a gold medal in every event aside from diving, the boys team found itself without a single gold and trailing Phoenix Shadow Mountain by three points heading into the final event of the 5A Division II state meet.
Desert Mountain assistant coach Greg Plank pulled his 400 freestyle relay team together just prior to the race and simply said, "Get it done."
Get it done they did. Sophomore Sam Weinstein put the Wolves out in front early, juniors Ryan Blumenfurth and Matt Handley pushed the advantage to as much as three body lengths, and anchor David Russell held off a late charge by Glendale Sandra Day O’Connor’s Ben Santerre for a two-second win.
"We knew as long as we won, the team competition was ours," Plank said. "The guys stepped up where they needed to and dropped their school record by two seconds."
They struck gold twice, as the relay victory catapulted the Wolves ahead of the Matadors, sealing the team championship for Desert Mountain.
The team competition in Division I wasn’t nearly as dramatic, as Brophy Prep walked away with another state championship 523-248 over Mountain View. The title is the 15th straight for Brophy coach Bill Kopas, who said this year’s championship held no less meaning than the rest.
"(The) 515 points was a goal we had set from the beginning and we beat it," Kopas said. "It was huge for us, especially since we lost a relay race worth 40 points. They’re already talking about breaking 600 points next season."
The Broncos failed to qualify for the 200 freestyle relay because of a false start in Friday’s preliminaries.
The disqualification came as a disappointment to the Dobson Mustangs, who defeated the Broncos earlier this season at the Chandler Thunder Wolf Classic.
"We would have been pushed by them, which would have made things exciting," Dobson coach Jeff Anderson said. "It’s unfortunate that they got the false start call, but our goal was for the relay team to finish the season undefeated and we did that."
Even though Dobson junior Nolan Ruane finished second in the 100 and 200 freestyle, he found little to complain about. He now holds junior class records in both events.
"I was up against really strong competition today," Ruane said. "So I’m satisfied with my results and my performance."
Horizon’s Buddy Turner received the 5A-I swimmer of the year award to go along with his double-gold performance. Turner held the fastest time of the day in the 50-yard freestyle and the 100-yard butterfly.
"I hoped for it, but didn’t expect it," Turner said of the award. "But everything’s earned; it’s a huge honor."
Brophy junior Austin Fowler was the only other swimmer in 5A-I to win two gold medals. James McHugh of Marcos de Niza and Ben Roman were the only doublegold performers in 5A-II.
Caleb Percevecz won his third consecutive state diving championship, this time taking the 5A-II title for Desert Mountain with a score of 489.40.
"I am going to try for a four-peat," Percevecz said. "But that doesn’t sound as good as ‘three-peat.’ "
Desert Ridge’s Jerome Walker finished second with a score of 396.75 and David Timchak of Marcos de Niza finished third in the 5A-II competition with a score of 364.40.
East Valley athletes took home the top three spots in the 5A-I contest. Highland’s Greg Lords won with a score of 385.00. While Aaron Medina of Mesa (381.65) and Corona del Sol’s David Phipps (379.30) rounded out the top three.
The diving festivities got a late start, as the 5A-II girls competition finished its meet Saturday and sent the 5A-II boys competition well into the awards ceremony.
Michael Tapia contributed to this report