Like the scorching sun that was fading into twilight, so was Ryan Dignan’s four-year swimming career at Desert Vista.
“I don’t think it’s hit me and I don’t think a lot of the seniors realize this is our last high school meet,” Dignan said as the state 5A-I boys championship meet was wrapping up on Saturday evening at the Kino Aquatic Complex in Mesa.
“We just wanted to have fun and enjoy it,” he added. “Eventually, we’ll realize that we’ll never have another one of these again.”
If having fun means going out in style the Desert Vista boys team did that.
The Thunder were the runners-up to perennial state champion, Phoenix Brophy, for the third consecutive season.
Brophy has won 22 consecutive titles and 30 overall.
Mountain Pointe’s boys were in a celebratory mood, too.
After placing 11th last season and ninth the year before that, the Pride finished fifth, three points ahead of Tempe Corona del Sol.
“I told Shawn (O’Connell, the Desert Vista coach) that one of the reasons our guys did so well is because his seniors had been beating up on our guys and it made them stronger,” Mountain Pointe coach Steve Mancuso said.
Some of those beatings came from Dignan, who was second in the 200-yard freestyle at one minute, 41.50 seconds and in the 500 freestyle where he clocked a 4:41.55. Dignan’s senior teammate Marc McAndrew was third in the 500.
“You want to lead up to this,” Dignan said. “My 200 and 500 times were both my best times.”
Desert Vista has a history of swimming faster the second day of the meet than the first.
“We’ve seemed to get a mindset on the first day of doing well enough to come back the second day, then go all out the second day,” he added. “The second day we usually do outstanding.”
Since Brophy has reached another plateau, over the past few years Desert Vista has established a real rivalry with Mesa Mountain View.
Although the Thunder boys team didn’t have a swimmer on the top platform of the podium, they were still 16 points better than Mountain View (256-240). Mountain Pointe came in with 142 points.
In addition to Dignan’s finishes, the Thunder got a fourth from senior Patrick Lombardi in the 50 freestyle and a fifth out of Chris Berghold in the 100 butterfly.
Lombardi, Dignan, Behold and Tyler Brouse placed second behind Brophy in the 400 freestyle, and were only a few strokes behind Brophy in the 400 freestyle relay. Lombardi, Dignan, McAndrew and junior Clayton Lanham combined for a third in the 200 freestyle relay.
Mountain Pointe senior Ryan Holly was also making his final swim for the Pride. He placed fifth in the 200 freestyle and seventh in the 100 butterfly. He also swam on the Pride’s fourth-place 200 medley relay.
“I wish we had gone faster in the prelims,” Holly said, “but we did finish fifth and it was fun.”
Desert Vista will be losing Dignan, Lombardi, McAndrew, Berghold and Brouse to graduation this spring.
“We’ve got 30 points coming back next year,” O’Connell said, “so it will be a rebuilding year. But the good thing is that we have 363 days to get ready.”