POCATELLO — Signatures were scribbled across the whiteboard as Century’s swim team awaited its moment.
Sports teams at Century High School have signed a lot of state championship banners over the years, but never in swimming.
So the members of Century’s state championship boys swim team practiced their penmanship. The Diamondbacks won the first-ever IHSAA-sanctioned 4A state title in early November and celebrated their victory by signing their banner Tuesday at Century High School.
“We put our share to the table,” senior Joe Kaiser said. “A lot of our other sports are putting the banners up, so I’m glad we can add to the mix.”
Century edged Bishop Kelly by a half-point — 186-185.5 — to claim the title in Boise. The two-day championship meet was the first recognized by the Idaho High School Activities Association, therefore crowning Century as the state’s first 4A state champ.
Idaho adopted swimming as an official high school sport in September 2017, taking Idaho off the short list of states that don’t sponsor high school swimming. Some of Century’s swimmers put themselves at the center of the process by attending meetings and submitting letters and emails to local dignitaries in an attempt to sway the vote.
“We all fought for it to become a sport,” junior Coleman Sandy said.
“It went to the district, and they had doubts about, maybe kids won’t take it seriously or it’s a waste a money, and we went and fought for it, and this is a final cap. We proved to you that not only do we want to have swim team, but we can be successful with it. I think that’s the coolest part.”
Sandy was Century’s lone male swimmer to claim an individual title at state. He bested teammate Gage Fouse to win the 100-yard freestyle in 50.09 seconds.
But that was small potatoes for Sandy. Century had a team title in sight all season, as the D-backs dominated regular-season meets and cruised to a District 4-5 championship.
“My goal was to get that banner more than anything,” Sandy said. “It kind of clouded my own pride with winning it. It was crazy.”
John Kaiser was of the same mindset. The freshman brother of Joe Kaiser, John swam in some of Century’s relays instead of individual races.
All of Century’s boys relays finished either first or second at state.
“I know that that’s what I needed to do and that’s what helped us win,” John Kaiser said. “I was just really in for doing what’s best for the team.”
As the final events started concluding on Day 2 of state, Century’s swimmers started tallying points.
They knew it would come down to the wire with Bishop Kelly for the state crown. Century’s second-place finish in the final event of the day — the 400-yard freestyle relay — sealed the deal.
“All season long, if you saw them race in season at any meets, from the districts level down, they just killed everybody,” coach Karen Homstad said of her team. “You could tell what a state championship contender looks like.”
With a state title secured and plenty of swimmers returning next season, Century’s foundation is set to continue success in the pool. Only Joe Kaiser and Jake Ryan Walsh are graduating from the current crop of seven state qualifiers.
So in the future, maybe Century simmers won’t have to sketch their signatures on a whiteboard for practice.
“We keep growing,” freshman JD Heberlein said, “and we hope to improve that next year.”