Foothill League swimmers embrace state meet atmosphere

Valencia's Izabella Adame swims the 100 Yard Butterfly against Saugus earlier this season. Dan Watson/The Signal
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Making the trip up to Fresno for the CIF State Swiming and Diving Championships at Clovis West High School over the course of today and Saturday, boys and girls swimmers from Canyon, Hart, Saugus, Valencia and West Ranch will continue the saga of putting the Foothill League on the map.

After no Foothill League swimmers decided to make the trip to the state meet a year ago, 25 student-athletes will make the journey up north, including seven boys relay teams and two girls relay teams.

“The Foothill League this year was debatably one of the strongest years we have ever had as a whole,” said Hart boys swimmer Dawson Waage. “Overall, all the teams did absolutely amazing. If you look at the results from league from prior years, it’s been way faster than it’s ever really been. We are sending a lot more people to CIF and state than ever before.”

Valencia had five boys and girls relay teams qualify for the state meet as the boys 400-yard freestyle relay (Jacob Gibbs, Jacob Aina, Ronit Shrestha, Joshua Lee), the 200-yard freestyle relay (Woo Young Yi, Shrestha, Gibbs, Dylan Parente) and the 200-yard medley relay (Young Yi, Lee, Aina, Parente), and the girls 200-yard freestyle (Ana Izabella Adame, Julia Unas, Emma Hiett, Allison Cho) and the 200-yard medley relay (Jin Young Yi, Unas, Adame, Cho) all look to improve on their CIF-Southern Section finishes just a week ago.

After placing second and 12th at CIF-Southern Section finals in the girls 100-yard breaststroke, Adame and Unas are the only two Vikings girls swimmers to qualify for an individual race. Adame also qualified for the 100-yard butterfly and Unas the 200-yard individual medley.

“I’m really excited because the competition up there for the 100 breast is really high and hopefully I can go under a minute,” Adame said. “That’s been my goal for a couple of years now so hopefully, the competition will help me push myself and I’ll push my competition to go 59.”

The Hart boys team sends two boys relay teams to the state as two seniors, Dawson Waage and Jonathan Quick lead both the 400-yard freestyle team (Quick, Jacoba Gragas, Ryan Sevidal, Waage) and the 200-yard medley relay (Sevidal, Kyle Brill, Quick, Waage) into battle in their first times at state with the hopes of passing on the torch.

“With our two sophomores who are up and coming, Jacob (Gragas) and Kyle (Brill), hopefully, we will have another generation of fast boys swimmers at Hart High,” said Hart head coach Steve Neale.

West Ranch boys 400-yard freestyle relay team (Charlie Morici, Cade Brower, Michael Lee, Rijker Hutson) and the 200-yard medley relay team (Ted Hwang, Brower, Morici, Michael Andrizzi) join the Vikings as the last two relay boys teams to make the trip.

Brower will also compete in the 50-yard freestyle and the 200-yard individual medley) while Morici will see what he can do in the 100-yard butterfly.

After winning the CIF-SS finals title in the 100-yard backstroke, Canyon’s Kevin Childs will look to be crowned the fastest boys swimmer in the state. He will also compete in the 100-yard butterfly.

Saugus boys swimmer Justin Morsch represents the Centurions in the 100-yard freestyle and the 200-yard freestyle.

Hart and Valencia both send three individual boys swimmers to the state meet as Gragas (100-yard backstroke and 200-yard freestyle), Quick (500-yard freestyle and 100-yard butterfly) and Waage (50-yard freestyle and 100-yard freestyle) represent the Indians while Lee (100-yard breaststroke), Parente (50-yard freestyle and 100-yard freestyle) and Gibbs (50-yard freestyle) dawn the Vikings.

“It’s going to be a good team atmosphere going on because there’s really good competition when we go to league meet and stuff, but when you get to state it’s just the finest in the entire state so you get a little nervous, but it’s exciting at the same time,” Waage said.

Junior girls swimmer Reagan Nibarger jumps into the pool as the lone West Ranch girls individual swimmer in the 50-yard freestyle and the 100-yard freestyle.

“I know a lot of us had a hard time getting to state in the first place just because they only enter your time from CIF finals, not like what you have gotten all season or your best times,” Nibarger said. “If we do well and we make it back to finals or we make it back at all, it will still be really good considering it will be our third week racing and it will be cool because we have never gone.”

Girls diving finals begin today at 8:30 a.m. while swimming prelims get underway at 2:30 p.m.

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