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Freshman duo anchors Merced College swimming

Kailey Carter and Brittany Wilson have dominated Merced College's swim team.
Kailey Carter and Brittany Wilson have dominated Merced College's swim team.

Kailey Carter came to Merced College used to the spotlight.

The Albany, Ore. resident was a star at Babette Romancier High School, setting three school records and taking home a number of awards.

Brittany Wilson joined the Blue Devils with a little less fanfare.

The freestyle-sprint specialist cruised by at Central Valley Christian High School, not really being pushed to reach her full potential.

While the freshman duo's paths to MC were very different, what they've done in the water since arriving have been almost mirror images of each other.

In a word, they've been dominant.

According to MC women's swim coach Bill Halpin, Wilson has a solid shot at qualifying for state in the 50-, 100- and 200-yard freestyles.

Carter has posted times that could qualify her for the 50 and 100 butterfly and the 200 individual medley.

"This season has been great," Wilson said. "I've swam better than I ever have in my life.

"I didn't expect to have this kind of success, but I'm really excited to try and help the team win a conference championship."

Behind the strong efforts of the freshman duo the Blue Devils went 6-1 in dual meets this year, including a 5-0 record against Bay Valley Conference opponents.

Scott McCall's men's team (6-1) was equally impressive, with its only loss coming to state-power Santa Rosa.

Both squads are favored heading into today's Bay Valley Conference Championships, which will run through Saturday.

The two squads made history a year ago by sweeping the conference titles for the first time.

Both head into today's action with a lead after the performances of their diving at Tuesday's NorCal Championships.

Katie Copenhagen was particularly impressive, capturing the the 1-meter title and finishing second in the 3-meter.

"It'd be awesome to have back-to-back titles," Carter said. "We have more talent and depth than last year's team, so it shouldn't be a problem."

That's a bold statement from someone who wasn't on last year's squad, but the numbers seem to back Carter up.

The MC women's team wasn't nearly as dominant during the season and still won the BVC title by 880 points.

The men's team cruised almost as easily.

Still, Halpin isn't leaving anything to chance.

"We're going to have Carter swim in the breaststroke, even though her events are the fly," Halpin said. "She may not get her best times, but it's a strategic move that can pick us up a few extra points.

"Scott going to have a few of those too that just give us a better chance to win."

Regardless of what they're swimming, the Blue Devils' dynamic duo intend to put on a show.

"We're confident after what we did in the regular season, but we're not going in over confident," Wilson said. "Nobody is taking anything for granted.

"We're all going to go out and swim our absolute best so that we leave no doubt.

"Our goal is to repeat as champions and that's our only focus."