Three years ago, Tucson Catalina Foothills won its 11th consecutive boys swimming and diving title.
But after moving up a competition level to Division I in 2011 and 2012, the team couldn’t keep its championship run alive against the big school powerhouses, finishing in sixth place both years.
Now back competing in Division II following another round of realignment, the boys from Catalina Foothills reasserted its dominance Saturday at Mesa’s Skyline Aquatic Center, capturing the school’s 12th title since 2000 by putting up 280 points.
Queen Creek came in a distant second place with 203 points, while Gilbert Campo Verde finished third with 171 points.
“It feels great, but I can’t say we expected to win because we’d had to fight for it,” Catalina Foothills coach Ed Walter said. “We have a very young team so we knew it was going to be a battle against some tough schools. It feels absolutely fantastic to come out on top.”
Although Catalina Foothills only won one event Saturday, the team consistently garnered points by finishing on the podium five other times. Junior Matt Lujan turned in the best individual day for Catalina Foothills, taking home the 200-yard individual medley title and finishing second in the 100 backstroke with an All-American consideration time of 51.01 seconds.
What might be most impressive about what Catalina Foothills accomplished Saturday was that the school beat out its competition with a vast majority of swimmers who will return next year. In fact, the team only had one senior swimmer compete in the meet.
“We had 17 boys here and almost a third of them are freshman,” Walter said. “There’s nothing but potential and growth ahead of us. That’s exciting.”
Winning the Swimmer of the Meet honors was Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep senior Joe Starkweather, who won the 50 freestyle, finished second in the 100 butterfly and helped his school to a silver in the 200 free relay. His time of 20.85 in the 50 free and 50.16 in the 100 butterfly gave him All-American consideration for both events.
“I’m just really happy with my times,” Starkweather said. “It was a lot of fun racing against the other guys. We had a good competition going.”
Sahuarita Walden Grove senior Trey Cashion also delivered a performance to remember Saturday, winning both the 200 free and 100 backstroke in All-American consideration times.
Cody Rankin of Phoenix Shadow Mountain won the 1-meter diving championship.