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Area swimmers close season with Section championships
Manteca resident Jessica Burge earned a third-place finish in the 100-fly consolation during the Sac-Joaquin Section Swimming Championships Saturday in Lodi.
LODI – As difficult as it was to find parking at the Sac-Joaquin Section Swimming Championships Saturday at Tokay High, an invitation to compete in the meet proved even more challenging with only a select few earning the right to compete in the area’s closing meet.

Area standouts had to post section-qualifying times at one point or another throughout the season, meriting a shot to compete in the section’s premiere swimming event. Individuals competed in the trial format’s on Thursday and Friday, setting up an all-day event for the finale.

Sierra’s Kara Hall closed out an impressive season finishing with a top-5 finish in the section with her fifth place showing in the 100-breast championship. Hall’s time of 1:07 was more than two-full seconds faster than her Valley Oak League championship performance just two weeks ago.

The Timberwolves girls team snagged a respectable fourth place consolation finish in the 200-medley relay, ending with a time of 1:59.85, bettering their mark of 2:01.01 in the VOL championships.

“Both our boys and our girls swam very well this year and put together a good season,” Sierra head coach Dave Breitenbucher said. “My coaches Clay Basepayne, Pat Windschitl – all of us – our very pleased with how the season unfolded. We’ve turned in our best times in the VOL’s and here.

“We’ve hit our peak at the right time and put together an outstanding end to the season.”

East Union had one athlete advance and Lancer Julia de Groot did not disappoint. DeGroot put together a solid meet, taking a fifth place in the 100-fly consolation and backing it up with an impressive seventh place consolation finish in the 500-free. De Groot is focused on taking her swimming to the next level, committing to a rigorous offseason schedule after her frosh-soph consolation experience.

“I’ve been able to drop a lot of time this season,” De Groot said. “Each event I drop a little and that is where your improvement shows. I just want to get better with each season.

“I’m going to continue to set new goals and if I reach them than I’ll be happy.”

Ripon High’s Derek Price closed out his season with a 10th place finish in the 50-free consolation, swimming the lap in 23.94, just 1.6 seconds behind the consolation winner. St. Mary’s high standout, and Manteca resident, Jessica Burge finished sixth in the section with a time of 1:00.47 in the 100-back. Her brother, Josh Burge, earned an 8th place finish in the 100-back consolation with a time of 58.28. Austin McDonnell of St. Mary’s won the frosh-soph 200-free consolation with a time of 1:52.06. Like the Burges, McDonnell is also a Manteca resident.

The season will come to a close, solely on the high school level, with summer leagues and year-around programs continuing on thru the summer months.