Strong performances by these Central Section swimmers, including a state champion

Clovis North’s Claire Tuggle in the Girls 500 Freestyle at the CIF Swimming and Diving Championships at Clovis West on Saturday in Fresno.
Clovis North’s Claire Tuggle in the Girls 500 Freestyle at the CIF Swimming and Diving Championships at Clovis West on Saturday in Fresno.

Clovis North freshman Claire Tuggle redeemed herself in comfortable fashion. Never mind she can be her own biggest critic.

Tuggle started out slowly in the 500-yard freestyle but extended her lead by a couple body lengths en route to a first-place finish in 4:41.60 — just missing out on the state record of 4:41.53 — on the final day of the 2019 CIF state swimming and diving in the Clovis West Aquatics Center pool on Saturday.

Earlier in the day, Tuggle finished second in the 200 free by just .22 seconds.

“I think I could’ve gone out a little faster,” she said of her gold-medal swim in the 500. “I was a little scared because in the 200 I started out too fast, but that race (500 free) I started too slow, but I came back too fast.

“It’s pretty cool to be a state champion.”

Tuggle also denied Granada senior Miranda Heckman a fourth straight state title. Heckman finished in fifth place (4:46.81).

In the 200 free, Tuggle (1:46.04) came up just short of a state title, finishing behind Ella Ristic of Santa Margarita who clocked in at 1:45.82. Clovis West senior Abby Samansky finished tied for fifth in 1:48.13.

All that was a distant memory for Tuggle, who hardly competed and didn’t compete in the fall because she broke she tore her abdominal wall and in her first week back for training she sustained a concussion.

“It definitely impacted how I raced today, and how I raced in the entire season,” she said. “I’m excited to see at the end of the summer to see what I can do after a real season of training.”

Clovis senior Averee Preble was second In the 200 yard IM in 2:01.24, finishing behind Zoie Hartman of Monte Vista (1:55.29). Hartman led from the start and extended her lead by a body length at the 100-yard mark.

“I was really excited to get second,” Preble said. “This is the highest I’ve ever placed at state and I’m really happy with that.”

Ben Forbes of Clovis North placed third in the 200 free with a time of 1:36.19. The senior finished behind state champion Max Saunders of Bellarmine College Prep who came in at 1:35.08

It was a big improvement for Forbes from a year ago, when he finished eighth in the race.

“Really happy with a third-place finish,” he said. “Just representing Clovis North well. Just going out there and racing these boys. They’re all fast. No one at this meet is slow. Just went out there and had some fun in my last meet.”

Clovis North placed second in the 200 freestyle relay behind San Ramon Valley in a close race. The Broncos were timed 1:22.31, and San Ramon finished in 1:22.13.

The CIF state meet featured 236 teams and 907 competitors in its fifth year at Clovis West.

A first for this school

Andrew Harness did something nothing has ever happened at Villa Park.

The senior totaled a state record 640.85 points in diving and became the first champion in any sport in school history.

Villa Park opened in 1964.

Of note

Selma senior Taylor Serna finished 24th in girls diving with 162.30 points. She was the only Division II competitor from the Central Section to qualify for the state meet.

Savannah Stocker of El Toro defended her state title with a state-record 538.75 points. She’s headed to USC next.

Anthony Galaviz: 559-441-6042, agalaviz_TheBee

Anthony Galaviz writes about sports for The Fresno Bee. He covers the Oakland Raiders, high schools, boxing, MMA and junior colleges. He’s been with The Bee since 1997 and attended Fresno City College before graduating from Fresno State with a major in journalism and a minor in criminology.