The Los Banos High swim team capped its Western Athletic Conference-championship season by winning the WAC finals on Thursday at Pacheco High.
The Tigers scored 180 points on the boys side to beat second-place Ceres’ 125, and 211 on the girls side to defeat Ceres’ 119. Patterson was third in the boys’ standings at 82 and Pacheco was third in the girls at 74.
“I talked to them yesterday, and I said we won the league, let’s make sure we win this meet,” Los Banos coach Drew Guintini said. “And today the kids were into it, and when they’re into it, that’s what makes it fun.”
One more Los Banos swimmer made his section-qualifying time when Jared Benitez swam the 100-yard backstroke in 59.99 seconds. The section-qualifying time is 1 minute flat.
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“Making that time was honestly huge. I haven’t made a personal record or anything in… all season’s been kind of a crappy season for me. I’ve been off,” Benitez said. “And making the backstroke, it made me really happy. As well as the 200 freestyle, I made a personal record, that made me really happy.”
Guintini predicted that the relay races would be exciting between Los Banos and Ceres, and they lived up to that prediction, with a strong butterfly leg by Irene Duke giving Los Banos the edge in the girls 200-yard medley relay, but a pair of anchor-leg swims giving Ceres the edge in the boys 200-yard freestyle and 400-yard freestyle relays.
“That was intense. It was so cool, though, it was awesome,” Benitez said. “Those races are always fun. Winning or losing by a big amount is never fun. Those races are just awesome and get the whole crowd going.”
Benitez and 15 other Tigers are now off until the Sac-Joaquin Section championships May 15 to 17 at Tokay High in Lodi. Guintini said qualifying 16 swimmers was about par for the course.
The Pacheco girls team went 2-4 in league duals, but placed third at the championship. While the Panthers didn’t qualify anyone for the section meet, what made coach Kimberly Gavin excited was her swimmers making personal bests across the board.
“I think it took a group effort, and what I really noticed at this meet was that they dropped their time substantially because of all the competition,” Gavin said. “Elissa (Martinez) dropped her time on the 200 IM by five seconds. That’s a lot of time when you think about that they’re proud that they got half a second off. That was amazing. All my athletes really dramatically improved, so that was good to see.”