Editor’s note: This summer, Star columnist Greg Hansen is counting down the top 10 of just about everything related to Tucson sports.
Today’s list: the 10 best boys swimmers in Tucson history.
To appreciate the dimension of Tucson High’s 1979 boys state swimming championship, consider this: the Badgers knocked off Phoenix Brophy Prep, one of the few true dynasties in Arizona prep sports.
Coach Jim Wandrey’s Badgers beat Brophy 253-243 by winning the day’s final event. Brophy Prep has since won 36 of the last 37 big-schools state championships.
And although Catalina Foothills has won 13 boys state swimming championships, it’s unlikely any Tucson team ever had the talent to surpass Wandrey’s ’79 Badgers.
Three seniors were offered scholarships by many of the NCAA’s top swimming schools: Eric Finical went to Texas, Bari Weick to Stanford and Bill Longton to Arizona State. All broke multiple state records.
“We were filling out All-American applications during half of the meet,” Wandrey told the Star in 1979. “I had prepared a speech to say, ‘Brophy is awesome,’ but I didn’t need to use it. Take away one performance and we would have lost.”
As it was, Tucson High won back-to-back-to-back boys state championships in 1977, 1978 and 1979. The group of Finical, Weick and Longton were point-scoring machines.
Wandrey, a 1960s UA swimmer who later became Tucson High’s athletic director, bought T-shirts in 1978 that said “1977 and 1978 state champions.”
A year later, after the Badgers broke five state records, Wandrey ordered new T-shirts that said “State Champions 1977, 1978, 1979.”
It was the last time a Tucson team won the boys state swimming championship until 1989.
Here’s our list of the Top 10 boys swimmers in Tucson. As always, there’s little separation between all 10.