Clovis News: Sports

Clovis West swims to surprise win

PORTERVILLE - For an aquatics program as dominant as Clovis West High, with a coach as meticulously prepared as Steve Baxter, there's still room for a little surprise.

And the Golden Eagles' boys 200 medley relay team pulled the stunner of the Central Section swimming and diving championships Saturday at the Granite Hills Aquatics Center.

Cary Wright, Omar Dwidar, Jacob McGough and Matt Brooks beat defending event champion Stockdale with an All-America and section-record time of 1:35.35. The Mustangs, who also swam faster than the previous section record of 1:35.76 set by Clovis West in 1995, were the prerace favorites.

"Never did we plan to break the section record in the medley," Baxter said. "We thought we'd be lucky to be within a body length of Stockdale. That was the swim of the meet."

The performance was the kick-start to a day that saw four other section records topped, 25 All-America times achieved and 13 All-America consideration times reached as Clovis West extended its section championship winning streaks to 13 straight years for the girls and 11 in a row for the boys.

"It's neat we still have kids willing to work as hard as they did 13 years ago," Baxter said. "I hope they appreciate what it means to be CIF champions."

Baxter's daughter, junior Tristin Baxter, was part of three section records and four All-America times.

Her day started with a win in the 200 free (1:50.83), just a little more than a second off the section record set by Clovis West's Kristen Hastrup in 2003.

Then came the record-breaking swims. Baxter's 4:52.42 in the 500 free topped Hastrup's mark of 4:53.32 set in 2003. Baxter was the anchor for the 200 free relay -- along with Morgan Barrows, Mariah Tharp and Mackenzie Schuler -- that won in 1:36.92 and the 400 free relay -- along with Claire Martin, Tharp and Schuler -- that won in 3:30.61. The previous section records were 1:38.22 (Clovis West in 2003) and 3:30.98 (Clovis West in 2000), respectively.

"We knew it would be hard to get [the relay records] and we'd all have to go hard," Tristin Baxter said. "That we did was exciting."

Clovis West's girls also received a victory from Tharp in the 50 free (24.31) while compiling 425.5 points. Clovis East was runner-up for the second straight year with 239.

The Timberwolves were led by Loreen Whitfield's section record-breaking performance in the 100 butterfly, as her 55.89 topped the 56.06 she swam as a freshman last year. Whitfield also swam an All-American consideration time of 2:05.80 while winning the 200 individual medley and a consideration time of 1:50.76 while being joined by Denni Silviera, Bethanny Turner and Kat Vietti in winning the 200 medley relay.

"It felt pretty good," Whitfield said of her record swim. "I was kind of surprised by my time because the last 25 meters my goggles were completely filled with water."

The other double-winner on the girls' side was Sunnyside's Kelsey Klatt, who posted All-American times in the 100 free (51.58) and the 100 back (personal-best 56.45).

Klatt, who made the Olympic Trials last summer, is a five-time section champion during her four-year career.

"I love the high intensity and pressure of these meets," Klatt said. "This is what I shaved and tapered for. I prepared to do my best."

On the boys' side, Chris Dominguez won two events individually and swam the leadoff leg of two winning relay teams to help Clovis finish a close second (322.5-278) to Clovis West.

Dominguez was an All-American in the 100 free (46.06) and 200 free (1:39.94) and part of All-American times along with Uaaron Sihan, Chase Lemley and Dan Wilson in the 200 free (1:25.70) and 400 free (3:07.16) relays.

"This whole year I've been trying to get there," Dominguez said of his All-American status. "I'm just glad I was able to reach it."

Teammate Wilson won the 500 free in 4:32.97, one of 18 All-American times in the boys' races.

Clovis West won the boys' meet despite winning just two events, the 200 medley relay and Dwidar with an All-American time of 57.98 in the 100 breast.

"This is our 11th one straight," Dwidar said. "It means a lot."

On Thursday, Clovis East's Meaghan O'Meara repeated as girls' diving champion (361.55 points) while Centennial's Bryce Ogden (475.15) topped Timberwolves freshman Jacob Ruiz (school record 437.10) for the boys' title.