Everything that needed to go right for the Sierra High girls swim team did, as the Timberwolves put together a quality Valley Oak League Championships performance to outlast the Oakdale Mustangs for the 2011 league title Saturday at East Union.
Sierra’s 131 points were good enough to cruise past the Mustangs (108) for the title, extracting revenge on a Mustangs squad that beat Sierra for the title a season ago by just six points. The Sierra boys squad closed in third place behind Ripon and champion Oakdale.
“I was very pleased,” Sierra head coach Dave Breitenbucher said. “Everybody swam really great and we were ecstatic about today’s outcome.
“The kids did really well; with a few minor exceptions, a slip on the block, or a bad turn, everybody had a great meet.”
Sierra’s Kara Hall earned the 200 IM championship with a time of 2:25, yet pulled in points from a host of top-3 finishes in the relay events. East Union High’s Julia DeGroot cleaned house for the Lancers, earning the VOL crowns in the 200 free (2:03.97) and the 500-free (5:25.87) on her way to another Sac-Joaquin Section berth.
“Unfortunately we only have Julia moving on,” East Union coach Aviette Heinze said. “Our 400 free relays for boys and girls were off by one-hundredths of a second. They were pretty bummed out.”
The results from the VOL championships spell the end of the season for the majority of the league’s swimmers. Earning a berth into the sections is a challenge that very few swimmers accomplish in their high school careers.
“It just takes so much to make it into that meet,” Heinze said. “For example our boy that was going for the 100-breast, even after our practices are over he would be in the water still training.
“That is pretty much what it takes, for you to go above and beyond and to perfect it.”
The Ripon boys squad got a tremendous VOL championship meet from Ryan Lee. Lee won the 200 IM championship as well as the 100-breat title. Ripon also got championships from Cory Winter in the 100 fly, Derek Price in the 100 free and runner-up finishes from Ryan Jessop (100 free) and Alex Weaver (100 fly). Manteca’s Kevin Craighead won the 500 free championship with a time of 5:47.17.
The championships went off without hiccup, thanks largely in part to the time and effort of Lancers coach Heinze.
“It’s definitely better than anything I could have asked for,” Heinze said. “It has went so smooth. For it being my first time I know I could not have asked for a better meet. It has been a semester long effort; as soon as I found out East Union was hosting I just got on it and started networking.”
Now the swimmers continuing on into the sections will begin preparation for arguably the most challenging meet of the season. All swimmers with qualifying times will try and put together a special meet May 12-13 at Tokay High School in Lodi.
“We are definitely going to be going harder for at least another week,” Sierra assistant coach Robin Earhchart said. “And then, we’ll be able to rest for a week before everything starts on Thursday (May 12).”