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Lady Timberwolves deny Ripon shot at another title share

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Sierra’s Ashlea Green takes in some air en route to winning the 500 freestyle.


POSTED April 30, 2014 12:53 a.m.

Dave Breitenbucher predicted fifth-place finishes in the Valley Oak League for his Sierra swim teams this year.

He was delighted to have been proven wrong.

The Sierra boys already had their second-place spot secured before downing Ripon’s talented seven-man squad 88-75 at Ervin Zador Aquatics Center on Tuesday, while the girls upset reigning co-champion Ripon 86-84 in the regular-season finale.

“Robin (Errecart) and I are both very proud of our team,” Sierra coach Dave Breitenbucher said. “They exceeded expectations for the year. I was looking at us finishing around fifth place. I didn’t think we could compete with Sonora, Oakdale, Ripon or Kimball. They all have year-round programs out of those groups and they’re all pretty tough. The kids really stepped up this year and swam well.”

Ripon’s girls contingent was in the running for another co-title after tying Kimball last week, 85-85. Both of Kimball’s teams are the VOL’s outright champions. The Sierra girls end up in third place at 6-2.

The girls competition was nip and tuck throughout, with the margin growing no larger than eight. The Timberwolves nearly swept the 500-yard freestyle won by Ashlea Green in 6 minutes, 15.99 seconds. It was then that they took the lead for good at 56-54, and the gap was widened to 66-58 thanks to first- and third-place finishes by their 200 free relays with three events to go.

Green was also on the winning 200 free relay that included Rachel Holmstrom, Vanessa Flores and Olivia Higby. The 400 free relay team, consisting of Natalie Jamero, Amy Windschitl, Natalie Randolph and Holmstrom, took second but narrowly qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section Trials with its time of 4:19.06. The section standard is set at 4:20.

Sierra’s girls won despite winning only two of the 11 events.

“That’s the kind of depth we have,” Breitenbucher said, noting the girls team’s all-around improvement since its 27-point loss to Kimball three weeks ago.” They came to swim today and did very well.”

Individual winners for Ripon were Maddie Hawes (200 free, 50 free), Hannah Sweet (200 IM, 100 back), Kaylie Sheaffer (100 fly) and Emma Lewis (100 free, 100 back). The Indians also claimed the 200 medley and 400 free relays.

Although the final outcome doesn’t indicate it, the battle between the two boys teams included some tight races starting with the meet-opening 200 medley relay that Ripon won by a touch.

Later, Sierra sophomore standout Scott Tolman was pushed by Ripon’s Zach Scudder en route to setting a personal record in the 100 breaststroke in 59.44 seconds. Scudder was not too far behind in 59.64. Tolman also won the 200 individual medley.

Jacob Hampton was part of three event victories (50 free, 100 free, 200 free relay) for the Timberwolves. He was challenged by Hunter Crum in the 50 free; Hampton clocked in at 25.23 with Crum doing so in 25.59.

The 500 freestyle duel between Ripon’s Daniel Esenwein (5:13.71) and Sierra’s John Buonauro (5:14.52) was also well contested, with the former pulling away in the final two laps.

Senior Corey Winter dominated the 100 fly and 100 backstroke and also spearheaded the winning 200 medley and 400 free relays.

Up next is the VOL Championships this Saturday at Lathrop High.

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