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Publish Date: 3/18/2005

Former rivals fare well in opener


LONGMONT — If there’s one unhappy Skyline swimmer wearing the Longmont blue and white this season, there are 13 Niwot swimmers proudly wearing Silver Creek’s Raptor on their backs.

Well, maybe it’s not that far yet, but it’s close.

“We loving it that we’re combined,” said Niwot freshman Alex Roiniotis. “We’re awesome.”

Yeah, that winning thing makes it a whole lot easier for two cross-town rivals to combine, but maturity was oozing out of Centennial Pool on Thursday after Silver Creek’s 111-64 pounding of Legacy in its first dual meet of the season.

The Raptors are proud, they’re good and they’re confident.

“I don’t see where (our potential) ends,” said Roiniotis, who added that the team’s goal is to knock off Thompson Valley for the Class 4A Northern Conference title.

From first look, the Raptors look like a viable candidate to do just that.

They qualified all three relays and six individual events for state Thursday to get the ball rolling.

Mike Montoya in the 200- and 500- yard freestyles, Roiniotis in the 50 free, Bunta Yamazaki in the breaststroke, Mike Yamazaki in the 500 free and Matt Schreiner in the 200 individual medley all had state-qualifying times against Legacy.

Just having Montoya compete this early was a nice surprise. The junior transferred to Niwot from Fairview High School this year. Personal reasons forced him to leave Fairview, but Niwot co-coach Stephen Beam couldn’t be happier to have him on his team.

“He’s a stud,” Beam said.

Montoya lettered for the Fairview swim team his freshman year, but a broken collarbone sidelined him last year. Beam thought he was going to be without Montoya for half the season, but after he looked deeper into the Colorado High School Activites Association’s rulebook, he saw that if the student didn’t compete for the team the previous year, there were no transfer restrictions.

Montoya will make a big impact on an already talented Silver Creek team this year.

“I’m not liking (Niwot) too much so far,” Montoya said. “But I love the team. I’m really excited about what we could accomplish this season.”

Montoya is just a small piece of the puzzle that coaches Debbie Stewart and Beam had to deal with at the beginning of the season to get these two teams to mesh, but already, it seems to be a seamless switch.

“Something has to be said about the maturity Silver Creek showed by letting (Niwot) in here with open arms,” Beam, the former Niwot coach, said.

“Niwot really had the tougher task by having to drop their name, but everybody is really dealing with it very well,” Stewart said.

If everything holds up to be true, this could be the start of something huge for the Silver Creek swim team. Perhaps a conference title is in its future; perhaps something even bigger, but it’s certainly going to take a lot to wipe the smiles of this already tightly-knit group’s faces.

“This is going to be fun,” Beam said.

Winning always is.

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