Clovis News: Sports

Clovis West girls and boys swim to titles

BAKERSFIELD -- With a respectful nod to one of the most decorated swimmers in Central Section history, the chant broke out before Clovis West High senior Tristin Baxter dove into the pool one final time as a high school competitor.

"Tris-tin, Tris-tin, Tris-tin."

When she touched the wall after two laps across the pool Saturday at John S. Hillman Aquatics Center more than 10 seconds faster than anyone else to complete the final leg of the 400 freestyle relay, Baxter had earned the 15th gold medal of her four-year career and put the finishing touches on the 14th consecutive Central Section Swimming and Diving Championship for the Golden Eagles' girls.

Clovis West's boys also kept their streak alive with a 12th straight title on a picture-perfect day that saw four section records along with 15 All-American and nine All-American consideration times established.

"It got me so pumped up," Baxter said of the unexpected chant. "I feel like I have more swimming to do, but I'm sure it will hit me in a couple days that was my last high school meet.

"I feel really proud to be a part of Clovis West and everything we've accomplished. I know how hard we work. This is not handed to us."

With Baxter setting section records in the 200 free (1:48.92) and the 500 free (4:45.60, nearly 7 seconds faster than the mark she established last year) and helping power All-American times in the 200 free (1:36.96) and 400 free (3:30.84) relays (both also featuring Mariah Tharp, MacKenzie Schuler and Lauren Martin), the Golden Eagles won six of the 11 events to amass 454 points and easily outdistance Buchanan (203) for the title.

"I always try to set goals for myself and I try my hardest to reach them," said the Arizona State-bound Baxter, who missed going a perfect 16 for 16 in section finals with a second-place in the 200 free as a sophomore some five months after having shoulder surgery.

The Clovis West girls also received All-American performances from Tharp in winning the 50 free (23.74), Schuler while placing second in the 200 free (1:50.59), and consideration times from Tharp while winning the 100 back (58.29) and Schuler in placing second in the 500 free (4:58.18).

"This is a season I took more seriously," Tharp said. "I really pushed myself more. I'm happy that those are my best times, and not just gold medals."

Clovis West's boys also earned gold in six of 11 events, riding a pair of individual wins from Cary Wright (200 free in 1:41.04 and 500 free in 4:31.77, both All-American times) to the title with a section-record 455 points. Clovis was second at 244.

Wright was also part of All-American times on the title-winning 200 medley (1:36.32 along with Jared Osborn, Jacob McGough and Taylor Fife) and 400 free teams (3:09.37 along with Matt Bilello, Fife and McGough).

"It just shows how unified we are as a team to score more points than we've ever scored before," Wright said. "Everyone contributed."

McGough also had two All-American swims, winning the 100 butterfly in 50.48 and placing second in the 200 individual medley in 1:52.86 as Clovis West topped the 432.5 points its 2005 team produced.

"We've had a lot of good teams before us," McGough said. "To be better than them is pretty amazing."

The day's other top individual performance went to Clovis East's Loreen Whitfield, who established section records and All-American times in the 100 fly (55.84) and 100 breast (1:04.95).

Whitfield rewrote the 100 fly record for the third straight year -- this time by 0.05 seconds -- and tied the mark in the 100 breast set in 1995 by Golden West's Amy Simpson.

"I'm just glad I was able to stay consistent with what I was doing," said Whitfield, a junior with seven career gold medals. "My goal was to set records, and that's what I accomplished. I'm happy with it."

Other section champions from the Fresno area included Clovis' Chase Lemley in the 100 free (46.92, an All-American consideration time), Bullard's Bonnie Orr in the 200 IM (2:10.68), Dinuba's Justin Lopez-Lamb (52.95), the Bullard girls 200 medley relay team (Alyssa Quiroz, Sarah Allbright, Orr and Katrina Brown in 1:54.00) and Clovis' 200 free relay (Garret Collard, Michael Luna, Tyler Mahnke and Lemley) in 1:27.25, a consideration All-American time.

"I worked hard, and everything paid off," said Lemley, who also swam a consideration All-American time (1:42.00) while placing second in the 200 free. "I had a great coach, too, [in Peter Tragitt] who pushed me and made it all possible."

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