CERES — Less isn’t more in swimming.
“More,” in fact, helped East Union’s boys team edge out Ceres 83-67 to open the Valley Oak League season Friday. The girls won more decisively, 112-56.
“We’re pretty deep this year, so we’re able to mix it up a little bit,” East Union coach Chris Johnson said. “We have some first-year swimmers that are very talented and quick learners.
“For our boys, depth in our relays helped win a close meet.”
With Ben Alfter and Matt French scoring big first-place points for the Lancers, Johnson said first-year swimmers such as David Hudson and Andrew Masias helped put them over the top.
Alfter won the 200-yard individual medley and 100 breaststroke, while Matt French took first in the 50 and 100 freestyle. They also helped two relay teams win.
Two-time reigning All-Area Swimmer of Year Natalie Heihn and Alicia Alfter paced the girls team, and each turned in a pair of Sac-Joaquin Section Trials qualifying times. Heihn claimed the 200 IM and 500 free, with Alfter dominating the 200 free and 100 butterfly.
Maryline Hoste led a 1-2-3 sweep of the 100 free. Sarah Russo (100 breaststroke) and Heather Craft (50 free) contributed victories. The 4x100 freestyle relay team also punched in a section berth.
“We’re looking forward to the rest of the season,” said Johnson, whose team next hosts Central Valley next Friday, March 20. “I think we can compete with some of the top teams in league this year.”
Oakdale 99, Manteca 60 (G)
At Manteca High, standout Davina Bennett led the girls with wins in the 50 free and 100 breast. Cari Carl was the top finisher in the 100 butterfly.
Jon Brandi was the Buffaloes’ boys top performer, as he won the 200 IM and was the runner-up in the 100 breast.
“All of our kids improved their times today, which is exactly what we are looking for in the second meet of the season,” said Manteca coach Elyce Silva. “We had kids drop 10 seconds from last week. That’s all I can ask for as a coach — improvement.”
Sierra 126, Weston Ranch 31 (G)
At Weston Ranch, Sierra’s defending league champion girls squad (3-0) was led by Ashley Burns (200 free, 100 back), Casey Tewell (200 IM), Ariel Moreno (50 free), Rachelle Hoffman (100 fly), Kaitlin Johnston (100 free) and Chelsea Fitzgerald (500 free).
The 2-0-1 boys got wins from John Osborn (200 free, 100 free), Josh Revives (200 IM), Zach Holmstrom (50 free, 100 back) and James Thomas (100 breast).
Richard Martinez accounted for Weston Ranch’s only event wins. His 500 free time of 6 minutes, 3.9 seconds is a new school record. He also won the 100 fly.
“Our junior varsity swimmers got to step up and race their first varsity meet, and they did really well,” Sierra assistant coach Pat Windschitl said. “It’s a good way to start off the season.”
At Weston Ranch, the Spartans had their share of highlights in their first-ever competition.
Team captain Amy Thomas, a freshman, was victorious in the 50 back, 100 free, and 50 free. Lathrop had three individual winners on the boys side: Elijah Cash (50 breast), James Gray (50 free) and Nick Loosli (50 back).
— Jonamar Jacinto