It came down to the final event.

The 400 freestyle relay.

East High School’s boys swim team needed to win the race to earn the South-Central League dual victory against Central on Tuesday.

The Eagles soared to a 4 minute, 29.37 second relay and placed first in the final race of the evening at East High School to win 90-88.

“We did our very best and we ended up winning by two points,” junior Dominic Simony said. “That was exciting. Knowing it was that close and you pull it off. It’s like all the little things add up.”

That rang true for Sam Miller, who was in the throes his sophomore year.

Miller called it a “get better year” and he did not see much action.

Now, Miller was the lead-off leg for the 400 free quartet and provided the spark necessary for the Eagles to earn the two-point victory.

He swam his portion of the relay at 1:04.89 to set the tone for the Eagles.

“It makes me happy that I can contribute to the team this year instead of just being there to get better,” Miller said. “This year, I’m actually contributing something, not only to myself, but I’m actually giving points to the team and helping us win stuff like this.”

Miller, who also placed first in the 100 butterfly, 100 backstroke and 200 medley relay, viewed a day like Tuesday as esoteric last season.

To play a critical role in the win made the moment that much sweeter.

“It makes me really proud of myself because I never thought I would be in this position,” Miller said. “It’s exciting and amazing. It’s like a swirl of different colors going through me that all show excitement.”

Despite the sizeable advantage the Eagles built in the race, the final leg of the relay, Joel Ortiz, said there was still pressure to perform well.

He dismissed all negative thoughts and honed in on providing his teammates with his best performance possible.

“The main thing is to stay focused in the race and try to improve on your time,” Ortiz said. “There’s still a lot of improvement for me, but overall as a team, I think we did pretty well.”

He powered through to give East its seventh and decisive first-place finish, including three in a row to end it.

“Finish strong and make the last one count,” Ortiz said. “The last one really makes a difference. It’s a lot of work, being the last one, the pressure is really on you. But it went well.”

Senior Jet Chong, who did not dive at the dual, said it was nice to earn this over the Wildcats.

“They had the numbers on us which is usually not how it is,” Chong said. “But this win shows how we are as a team and all the grit we have and all the hard work that we put in.”

Central’s Sergio Sandoval and Aaron Guerrero powered the Wildcats to four of their five, first-place finishes.

Sandoval finished first in the 200 freestyle as well as the 500 free. He clocked in at 2:33.90 in the 200 and 7:07.36 in the 500.

Guerrero continued his swift pace from last weekend’s Hornet Invite and placed first in the 50 and 100 freestyle.

The junior finished the 50 in 24.06 and 53.76 in the 100. The Wildcats’ 200 freestyle relay – Guerrero, Sandoval, Cole Johnson and Stephen McDonald – earned first with a time of 1:53.23.

Pueblo County 126, Centennial 37: Four Hornets swimmers hit state qualifying marks in their events against the Bulldogs.

John Plutt (200 freestyle), Jonah Hunter (200 IM) Tony Builta (diving), and Ben Trujillo (100 breaststroke) each finished with state cuts for the Hornets as well as first-place finishes.

Pueblo County also earned first in 11 of the 12 events.

Centennial’s Tyler Stewart touched the wall first in the 100 freestyle with a time of 59.43.

Chieftain sports reporter Marcus Hill can be reached by email at mhill@chieftain.com or on Twitter @MarcusLHill