Photos by Paul Meadors
By Paul Meadors Sports Editor
The times were fast and furious at the Clovis Olympic Swim Complex on May 14, and where one mighty impressive streak continued another has started once more.
The Clovis West boys and girls diving and swim teams dominated the team competition in winning the CIF Central Section D-1 team titles, the 20th consecutive title for the girls and sweet justice for a boys team whose 16-year streak was ended last year by Clovis.
“It was important to our guys to get that title back to Clovis West,” said Adam Reid, the Eagles head coach. “And 20 Valley titles in a row (for the girls) is incredible. I couldn’t ask for better swims today.”
And through it all, six Central Section records were broken including Clovis West’s Matt Elkington in the 200 free (1:36.91), the Clovis boys 200 and 400 free relays (1:23.71, 3:03.85) and a super-performance from Buchanan junior Stephanie Bartel in the 100 backstroke (55.08), 200 IM (2:02.38) and the 100 free (50.60).
The Clovis West boys team scored 479 points followed by Buchanan with 348.5 and Clovis 345, while the girls scored 488 to beat Clovis’ 366 and Clovis North’s 284.
This year’s meet was a mix of young and experienced swimmers, no doubt a sign of how strong Central Section swimming is now and will be for years to come. In fact, athletes from Clovis Unified won all 24 events, including diving.
The reason for such impressive times? Reid points to hosting the CIF State Swimming and Diving Championships for a second consecutive year as a major factor.
“I think coming off last year’s state meet it got the kids motivated to work really hard this year across the Valley,” Reid said. “These kids are swimming extremely fast this year.”
Look no further than the 200 free senior Matt Elkington, who swam in his home pool (1:36.91) in addition to winning the 100 butterfly with a time of 49.09. The UCSB recruit said he was extremely pleased with his performance in the 200 free as he was hoping for a time in the 1:37 range, exceeding his expectations and gaining steam heading into the state finals.
“I’m super excited about state,” Elkington said, still smiling wide a good 30 minutes after the awards ceremony. “I think I’ll be able to be up at the podium in the 200 free.”
Clovis West’s Jacob Roberts also had a great day, winning the 100 backstroke (51.42) and the 100 free (46.13), as did junior Skylar Elkington in winning the 50 free (23.71) and 100 free (51.26).
And the youth movement is evident as Clovis West put nine freshman in the water in the two-day event. But Clovis West isn’t alone, Clovis freshman Averee Preble showed she’ll be a force to be reckoned with for years to come – she won the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:05.59 edging Clovis West sophomore Caitlyn Snyder’s 1:05.88, also smoking the field in both the 100 butterfly (55.19) and the 500 free (4:52.78).
Her older sister, senior Audree, is one of her biggest supporters, and someone Averee looks up to immensely. In some respect, she paved the way for younger sis.
“I was very excited coming into this meet and it means a lot to me (to win),” said Averee. “I’ve watched my sister the past two years and I’ve always been excited to come here and compete.”
And the main attraction of every big-time swim meet are the free style relays – the 200 and 400 – and this year was no exception; the Clovis West girls and Clovis boys won both events setting off wild and giddy celebrations.
The Golden Eagles featured freshman Abby Samansky, sophomore Caitlyn Snyder, junior Elkington and senior Sarah Snyder. The Cougars squad was made up of junior Graham Hauss and seniors Jacob Rolih, Seth Nabors and Zach Koch in the 400 and Koch, Hauss, Nabors and Jesse Serpa in the 200.
“I’m so proud we pulled the 400 out, all glory to God,” said Graham Hauss, who was on the state gold medal winning team last season and swam the first leg in both events. “We were all really pumped.”
And how about those Clovis West girls relay teams, who, when out of the pool together become a group of four who could very easily host their own talk show.
“We are ready for state, ready to ramp it up,” said Sarah Snyder, who’s attending UCSB on a water polo scholarship before sister Caitlyn replied: “There’s more competition at state and it gets you all pumped up when you’re walking out to music. It’s like, OK, we’re ready to go now.”
When asked if they know who their competition will be at state this year, they girls all replied that it didn’t matter. But more importantly, do they think the competition knows about them?
“They should. If they don’t, they will,” said the girls almost in unison.
Other winners include boys 200 medley Hunter Lane, Tom Schab, Preston Mayer, Austin Krietemeyer; 200 IM Thomas Vandiver, Buchanan; 50 free Zach Koch, Clovis; 500 free Graham Hauss, Clovis; 100 breaststroke Noah Hickman, Buchanan; Diving Colby Evangelinos, Clovis West.
Girls: 200 medley Abby Mamman, Audree Preble, Averee Preble, Vivian Talmage, Clovis; 200 free Jilian Hatch, Clovis; Diving Kiree Lowe, Buchanan.