Kevin Craighead, Manteca Senior: Earned a berth into the Sac-Joaquin Sections with his relay teammates and won the Valley Oak League Championship in the 500 free with a time of 5:47.17.
Derek Price, Ripon Sophomore: The Ripon High standout put together his second solid season, making off with the VOL championship with a victory in the 100 free. Price advanced to the section’s for the second consecutive season.
Zac DeGroot, Sierra Senior: DeGroot was instrumental in the Timberwolves’ success over the past three seasons, helping guide a talented Sierra 200 medley relay team to a postseason berth.
Tim Cornish, Sierra Senior: Put himself in the midst of all of the league’s fastest times in the VOL Championships, garnering top-5 finishes in the 50 and 100 free, while contributing to a pair of Sierra relay teams.
John Osborn, Sierra Senior: The Timberwolves standout was solid once again for Sierra, earning his third consecutive All-Area team nod. Osborn was able to close with four top-10 finishes during the VOL Championships.
Some athletes face pitchers, some face defensive linemen, but the Bulletin’s 2011 All-Area Swimmer of the Year was only competing against the clock. The only thing that stood in Ripon High freshman Ryan Lee’s way were ticks on the clock, and that wouldn’t be enough.
Lee came on the scene for an up-and-coming Ripon High aquatics program garnering early respect. As a freshman he was able to nab the third-year program a pair of Valley Oak League titles in the 100 breast stroke and the 200 individual medley.
“I really just wanted to do well for my team,” Lee said of his two VOL wins. “I was going to do whatever I could to win, or at the very least do my best.
“That was the biggest meet I had swam in for high school.”
Lee easily could have found room for another top spot, but with only two openings to compete in individual events it was a team decision that decided his wins. Lee would add the 100 butterfly to his schedule in the Sac-Joaquin Section Swimming Championships where he excelled.
The freshman posted his fastest times in both events and left him with the second fastest (54.22, 100fly) and the fifth fastest (1.03.84, 100breast) qualifying times in the entire frosh-soph division.
“I was glad that I was able to set my best times in both,” Lee said. “I was really excited about my (butterfly) time. I hadn’t improved it in a while and to set the second best mark was really an accomplishment.
“Both were personal bests so I was happy with both.”
Ordinarily this would have left Lee two shots at a section championship, but clerical negligence from the Ripon High administration disqualified Lee from the finals.
He actually posted the times knowing his future had already been decapitated.
“I was just disappointed that I couldn’t swim and go out there and represent my team,” Lee said of the ordeal. “I know that mistakes happen and at least it happened in my first year. Out of my four years, my freshman year, in terms of athletics and with my academics, is not as important as the other years.
“I was disappointed, but I understand.”
Lee will definitely have another shot to put together a postseason script more fitting, but for now he is just focused on getting better. Entering the scene and having an impact as a freshman can only lead to lofty expectations, yet no expectations could possibly loom larger than those Lee holds of himself.
“I work hard and I practice a lot, but I didn’t know that I would have this success,” Lee admits. “I didn’t know it would happen like this; I couldn’t predict the future, but I always thought I would do well.
“I want to do well and have fun, but with my results as a freshman, if I continue to work hard I look forward to winning one of my events, if not both.”