Clovis News: Sports

Clovis West swimmers get even stronger

As improbable as it may be, the Clovis West High swimming and diving program may be getting even better.

In the Central Section's most active dynasty -- and perhaps the greatest in history when combining genders -- the Golden Eagles' girls have won 14 consecutive section titles and the boys 12.

And it's the boys in particular who are making another big splash heading into this weekend's Clovis West Swim and Dive Invitational -- attracting 1,540 participants from more than 40 schools in one of the premier prep aquatic events in the West.

"Depth-wise, we have more sprinters than any team I've had in 15 years," Eagles coach Steve Baxter said.

How deep? How fast?

Try a remarkable 13 boys who have made the section qualifying time standard of 51.64 for the 100 freestyle.

That explains how Clovis West's boys captured first place in last Saturday's prestigious Mission Viejo Swim and Dive Invitational with 480 points, beating defending North Coast Section champion Campolindo (429) and 2010 Southern Section runner-up Loyola (402).

The Eagles were led by senior Cary Wright, the co-swimmer of the meet, an All-America swimmer standing 5-feet-9. At Mission Viejo, The Bee's 2010 Boys Swimming and Diving Athlete of the Year won the 100 backstroke (51.53) and 500 freestyle (4:32.86), and contributed to two gold-medal winning relays.

In the 200 medley, he teamed with senior Jared Osborn, freshman Justin Wright and junior Matt Bilello to clock a meet-record 1:36.5.66. And in the 400 freestyle, he joined Bilello and juniors Brock Ivancovich and Tommy Allen for a 3:11.84.

Clovis West's history of prototype rockets in the 6-2 and 6-3 range represents a long line such as Cole Bitter, Eddie Wisniewski, Ryan Donaldson, Jeff Daniels and older brother Josh Daniels, who just helped Cal win the NCAA men's championship. And, currently, Ivancovich is 6-6 with "unlimited potential," according to Baxter.

Unlike other sports, such as baseball, which often will deny college and professional opportunities to, say, a 5-9 pitcher, Cary Wright finds an open door.

Florida has made him a nice scholarship offer and USC remains in the mix.

"It's amazing how fast that kid can go," Baxter said. "He's the most talented 5-8 or 5-9 boy I've ever seen at this school."

Saturday, Wright -- older brother of Justin -- will gun for Chris Mercier's 15-year school record of 51.2 in the 100 back. Wright will also swim the 200 individual medley, basically for experience.

Clovis West's girls also figure to represent the host school well.

Senior Mackenzie Schuler is an All-American and three-year section medal magnet, but only now has grabbed the team spotlight with the departure of Tristin Baxter, a 15-time section gold medalist.

At Mission Viejo, Schuler won the 500 free (5:02.6), placed second in the 200 free (1:53.83) and contributed to 400 free (fifth, 3:41.6) and 200 medley (seventh, 1:56.4) relays.