For any high school athlete, the end goal is to make it to state.
The goal was reached for a handful of East Ridge, Park and Woodbury swimmers this season as they competed in this year's state championships.
It's a memory that they will hold for many years to come. For the seniors, it's a way to end their high school careers at the biggest stage. For the non-seniors, it's an opportunity to learn and bring some knowledge heading into next season.
The goal to start the season for the Raptors was to bring all three of their relay teams to state. The team was able to do that, which built some confidence heading into next season.
"The season was the cake and reaching state was the icing," said sophomore Jakow Heide. "It's been fun to see all the high competition here. It makes me want to work harder to get back here next season."
In the 200-yard medley relay, the East Ridge team reached day two and ended up in 12th place with a time of 1:38.20. That team consisted of senior Carter Smith, sophomore Heide, junior William Cho and senior Casey McGrath.
In the 200 individual medley, Smith and Heide competed for a spot in the prelims. Smith advanced to the next day of competition in the consolation heat, while Heide wasn't able to qualify for day two.
Heide finished in 20th place with a time of 1:59.64. Smith ended up in 15th place with a time of 1:58.27.
In the 100 freestyle, McGrath earned his way into the championship heat and ended up in fifth place with a time of 46.93. It was a strong way to finish off his senior year.
"It was great to be here with all of my teammates to finish out my senior year," McGrath said. "It's been a fun season and I can't believe it's already over."
In the 200 freestyle relay, the Raptors found themselves out of day two of competition. The team consisted of Heide, senior Ryan Langstraat, senior Noah Cagle and Cho. They finished in 19th place with a time of 1:30.57.
In the 100 backstroke, Smith reached the championship heat and ended in eighth place with a time of 54.33.
"It was fun to reach state my senior year and I hope these younger swimmers are able to come back again in the future," Smith said. "I know East Ridge has a bright future with the young talent we have coming. It'll be exciting to watch."
In the 400 freestyle relay, East Ridge ended up in 18th place with a time of 3:18.16. That team consisted of McGrath, Langstraat, junior William Ashton and Smith.
For head coach Meghan Weiss, this senior class hits her a little bit more because she started coaching the Raptors when these seniors were freshmen. It's been a journey growing with them and she said they will be missed next season.
"This was a fun season and these seniors showed so much leadership for the younger swimmers on the team," Weiss said. "We hope to continue bringing more swimmers to state each season and I'm excited to see what next year brings with some young swimmers ready to get back to this state tournament."
The Royals brought a handful of swimmers to the state championships and many of them were seniors that wanted to end their season on a high note.
In the 200 freestyle, senior Tim Rizzo was one spot away from reaching the championship heat on Saturday and ended up in the consolation heat. He ended up in ninth place with a time of 1:42.59.
In the 100 butterfly, junior Lukas Hruby finished the season in 19th place at state with a time of 52.55. For head coach Marty Hoven, this wasn't the primary event he competed in all season long.
So, this speaks to the level of talent Hruby has and he's willing to try any event for the Royals.
Rizzo came back for the 500 freestyle and ended up in second place with a time of 4:34.29. He knew there would be two more swimmers competing for that top spot, so he's happy with the placement.
He was only a few hundredths of a second away from breaking the Woodbury record in the event.
"It's been a fun journey these last few years at Woodbury," Rizzo said. "I hope these younger swimmers realize that the hard work pays off. It might not come right away, but in the end it'll pay off."
Hoven said Rizzo will be one of the top swimmers to come out of Woodbury and he appreciates everything he did to continue building this program into the future.
In the 200 freestyle relay, the Royals finished 18th with a time of 1:30.17. That team consisted of Hruby, senior Matthew McCollor, senior Christian Garcia Heublein and Rizzo.
"These seniors deserve to end their careers here at state because they worked all year to reach this point," Hoven said. "They made a huge impact to our team and they will be missed next season. I'm looking forward though to next season and the future because we have some talented swimmers coming up that will hopefully be swimming here next season as well."