Nikolas Brink graduated from Sierra as one of the final remnants of the school’s first and only Valley Oak League boys swimming championship team from 2016.
Fellow Timberwolf Meghan Tolman has another year to pen another chapter in the history books. They’re the Manteca Bulletin All-Area Male and Female Swimmers of the Year.
Both managed to stand out in a league dominated by Ripon and Oakdale this past spring.
Tolman did so by becoming the first girls swimmer from the Manteca area to advance to the CIF State Swimming & Diving Championships. She’s not the first member of her family to achieve this, however — older brother Scott qualified for the inaugural state meet in 2015 and made it back the following year, earning medals in the 100-yard breaststroke and 200 individual medley.
“It was really cool to be able to do that,” Meghan said. “I have always looked up to my brother and it’s cool to be at that level he was a couple years back. People think it runs in the family but it comes from the team. I couldn’t have done it without the influence of my team and coaches.”
The younger Tolman repeated as the VOL’s 100 breast champion while also taking first in the 200 IM. Her winning 100 breast time of 1 minute, 5.58 seconds stands as a new meet record, toppling a 17-year old mark (1:06.42) held by former Sierra standout Ja-Neil Bragg.
Tolman advanced to the Sac-Joaquin Section Finals in two events, placing 16th overall in the 100 butterfly in 58.63. The 100 breast championship final is where she made history. Needing a top-three finish to guarantee a state berth, she finished third and broke her own school record in 1:04.68.
The 5th annual CIF meet, held at the Clovis Olympic Swim Complex, was an eye-opening experience for Tolman, the lone state qualifier from the area this year. She finished in 34th place (1:05.47) in the preliminaries.
“It was super humbling,” she said. “I saw so many amazing swimmers breaking all kinds of records. It was humbling and inspiring at the same time. It has helped me push my goals further and I’m hoping to do a lot better next year and make it back to the second day.”
Both Tolman and Brink remain active in the pool as they go their separate ways. Tolman aspires to swim competitively in college, while Brink is preparing to try out for the Delta College water polo team.
Brink, a distance specialist, is a four-year SJS qualifier and two-time VOL champion in the 500 freestyle. Since his freshman year, he never finished worse than fourth place in the event at the league meet and took first the past two years. He’s also the VOL 200 free runner-up.
Seeded second for the 500, he held off Ripon’s Kai West to win the race in 5:06.39. He won the 2018 title in 5:03.69, which was then a personal record.
“That was pretty memorable,” Brink said. “I was more surprised about last year. Winning league in the 500 this year, I was glad to be able to do that again but I was looking to just get a better time at sections.
“My goal was to get into the top 16 and make it to the next day, but it’s really difficult to get to that point.”
Brink came up short of moving on to Day 2 of the SJS meet in both events but did clock his best times as a Timberwolf. He ended up in 35th place in the 200 free (1:52.49) and 21st place in the 500 free (5:03.11).
His career at Sierra did not end as he had hoped, but Brink remains most proud of playing a key role in the program gaining its first boys league title with the likes of Scott Tolman during his freshman year.
“It was a more joyous moment winning the league title than it was for me winning individually,” he said. “Just being a part of that team was pretty special.”
Kennedy Brubaker, Ripon
Haven Fasani, Ripon
Amber Scheid, Ripon
Ashtyne Topie, Ripon
Eleanor Tran, Ripon
Donovan Armstrong, Ripon
Joshua Craighead, Manteca
Garrett Kmiec, W. Ranch
Kai West, Ripon
Maika West, Ripon