And they wanted to make sure it had a special ending.
The Knights finished their season -- Erickson's 30th as a coach -- in the best possible way, winning the 4A state swim and dive title at King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way.
"We knew it was possible, we didn't know for sure until (we got here)," Erickson said.
It was the third title for Kamiak in five years. The Knights also won in 2009 and 2011, before finishing third behind Stadium and Issaquah last year.
Kamiak (207 points) got a little revenge this year. The Knights took the lead with a fourth-place finish in the 200 freestyle relay, the ninth event of the meet. Shelby Lee, Eben Schumann, Liam Sosinsky and Magnus Lagerkrans finished the race in 1 minute, 30.9 seconds -- the same time that they had in the preliminary round on Friday -- which got the Knights 30 team points, enough to leapfrog Stadium.
Two events later, Sosinsky won the 100 breaststroke with an automatic All-American time of 57.08 -- the exact AAA cutoff in that event -- that padded the Knights' lead. All that was left was to not get disqualified in the final event of the day, the 400 freestyle relay, and the title would be clinched.
Not only did Kamiak not get disqualified, but it won the event -- albeit, with Stadium. The two teams finished the race with an identical time of 3:13.03, which was a school record for Kamiak.
"It felt especially great (to win a state championship) this year because it was Coach Erickson's 30th season," Sosinsky said. "The team wanted to give a gift to him and end with a bang."
The win capped the team title, putting the meet out of reach for second-place Issaquah (138 points). Stadium and Newport tied for third place with 133 points each.
Erickson said he knew from the start of the year that this team could be a state contender, but that a team still has to handle those expectations and perform throughout the year.
Just like Kamiak did.
"It's exciting. It can be nervewracking," Erickson said. "You have expectations. You just have to relax and perform and they did. And they're state champions."
Stadium held a slim lead over Kamiak through the first four events.
Kamiak finished second in 200 yard medley relay and had two swimmers in the championship final in the 200 individual medley, with seniors John Stupey and Sosinsky finishing second and fifth respectively.
The two swimmers have been the anchors for Kamiak this season.
"You know we're going to miss Liam," Erickson said. "Him and John. Both of them are all-Americans."
Stupey led for the first half of the 500 freestyle but Gig Harbor's Evan Indahl made a charge late. Stupey was out-touched at the wall by four hundreths of a second at the end and finished in fourth place with a time of 4:42.13.
Stupey said he would have liked to get an individual title in his final high school state meet, but he'll happily take the relay win and team title. He even likes the unique wrinkle in the final race.
"I didn't come away with an individual title like I wanted, but I can't be disappointed," Stupey said. "I'd rather have the team win. ? And I think it's more fun with the tie."
Kamiak also got strong performances from Schumann and Lee. Schumann finished third in the 50 freestyle (21.73) and fourth in the 100 freestyle (48.05), as well as swimming on the 200 and 400 relay teams.
Lee swam on all three relay teams including the 200 relay, which was right before his individual event, the 100 backstroke. He finished 10th in that event, and Erickson praised the sophomore's willingness to likely sacrifice a few seconds in his individual event for a meet-altering relay.
"Shelby made a big sacrifice," Erickson said. "He knew we needed him."
The Knights also needed their seniors, who happily obliged. Sosinsky was thrilled to finish his high school career with a 4A title.
"It feels great to go out winning the state championship," he said. "Obviously, it's a great end to senior year. But I just wanted to win it for Coach Erickson, for all he's done for us and so many people. We wanted him to have a great year."
It looks like the Knights succeeded. And for those wondering where does this state-championship team rank in the 30 that Erickson has coached?
"Right up there," he said.
Jackson sophomore Conner McGinnis finished second in the 100 backstroke with a time of 52.34 and fifth in the 50 freestyle (22.08) to lead the Timberwolves (43 points) to 17th overall in the team standings.
Right behind the Timberwolves at No. 18 was Cascade. Led by senior Asahel "AJ" Jenkins, the Bruins ended the day with 41 points. Jenkins finished second in the 200 freestyle (1:41.35) behind Kentridge's Chase Bublitz who finished in an automatic All-American time of 1:39.51. Jenkins also finished third behind Kim in the 100 butterfly, despite an All-American consideration time of 50.10.
The top two swimmers in the race had automatic All-American times, with Jenkins and the fourth place swimmer, Brian Woodbury of Curtis, had All-American consideration times.
Lake Stevens sophomore diver Chase Reid finished fifth (321.15 points) in his second state tournament. As a freshman, Reid finished 17th, just missing the championship round. The Vikings (25 points) finished 22nd overall.
At King County Aquatics Center
Team scores: 1. Kamiak 207, 2. Stadium 170, 17. Jackson 43, 18. Cascade 41, 22. Lake Stevens 25, 25. Snohomish 17.
200 medley relay--2. Kamiak (Shelby Lee, Liam Sosinsky, John Stupey, Henry Limm) 1:37.29; 200 freestyle--2. AJ Jenkins (Cascade) 1:41.35;
200 individual medley--2. Stupey 1:55.24*, 5. Sosinsky 1:55.73; 50 freestyle--3. Eben Schumann (K) 21.73, 5. Conner McGinnis (Jackson) 22.08; Diving--5. Chase Reid (Lake Stevens) 321.15, 14. Joel Tonsgard (Snohomish) 269.90; 100 butterfly--3. Jenkins 50.10*; 100 freestyle--4. Schumann 48.05; 500 freestyle--4. Stupey 4:42.13; 200 freestyle relay--4. Kamiak (Lee, Schumann, Sosinsky, Magnus Lagerkrans) 1:30.90; 100 backstroke--2. McGinnis 52.34; 100 breaststroke--1. Sosinsky 57.08**; 400 freestyle relay--1. Stadium (Logan Rysemus, Josh Maclurg, Noah Willers, Andrew Lackman) 3:13.03, 1. Kamiak (Stupey, Lee, Limm, Schumann) 3:13.03.
*Denotes All-American Consideration time
**Denotes All-American Automatic time
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