Yosemite High School's 5-foot-11 senior, Molly Casey, led the Badger girl's swim team to a third place finish at the May 18 Central Section Division II Swimming and Diving Championships held at Tulare Union High School. There were 33 teams in the meet.
The third place team finish at the championship meet was the highest for a Yosemite girls team in the history of the school.
Casey swam her fastest time of the season (1:03.22) and set a new school record in the 100 yard backstroke to place third in the event, the highest finish by any individual Yosemite swimmer at the event. She first broke the school record of 1:10.36 as a sophomore and then bettered that time as a junior with a 1:05.31, and again broke her record last Saturday with the 1"03.22. Tulare Western's Khloe McCarthy won the event with a new meet record of 1:01.27.
"Molly is a very talented swimmer and has accomplished a lot at Yosemite," coach Brandon Brokaw said. "She'll have a great college swimming career."
Brokaw said all three Yosemite girl relay teams (200 medley, 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle) were impressive -- All three breaking school records "that should be around for years to come."
Casey was a member of the 200 medley relay team that finished third behind Highland High School of Bakersfield and Hanford West in 1:58.93. The team, that broke the school record by six seconds, included Casey (backstroke), Savannah Wagner (breaststroke), Tori Ellsworth (butterfly) and Kayla Davis (freestyle). Highland finished the race 2.7 seconds ahead of Yosemite.
"The girls goal all year was to break the two minute barrier in the 200 medley and they did it in their last meet of the year," Brokaw said. "Breaking the two minute barrier in the 200 medley is a special achievement for this group and it was exciting to see them do it."
The 400 freestyle team of Julia McConville, Wagner, Davis and Emma Madsen, placed fourth behind Monache, Kingsburg and Highland with a school record time of 3:51.33.
Also placing fourth, with a new school record, was the 200 freestyle relay team of McConville, Ellsworth, Davis and Emma Madsen in a time of 1:46.
The relay teams, with the exception of sophomore McConville, are made up of seniors.
"Yosemite is going to miss this group of talented seniors," Brokaw said. "They all worked hard, improving all season long and they were all great leaders."
Yosemite's foreign exchange student from Germany, Savannah Wagner, had her best meet of the year and contributed valuable points to the team. Not only was she a member of two school record-breaking relay teams, she placed sixth in the 100 breaststroke (1:16.44) and seventh in the 100 butterfly (1:07.04). Both her times were personal bests for the season. Mallo Korenwinder of Tulare Western won the breaststroke event in 1:03.98 and Taylor Solorio of Highland won the 100 butterfly in a meet record time of 56.63.
The girls team finished the meet with 179 points, behind Hanford West with 227 and Division II champions Kingsburg with 234 points.
Casey, who will swim and play water polo for Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo in the fall, said she was happy with her performance and the fact she will be leaving Yosemite on a winning note.
"I wanted to do good for coach (Brandon) Brokaw," Casey said. "I have been on his swim and water polo teams for the last four years. I wanted to make him proud because he dedicates so much time to the swim and water polo programs at Yosemite High."
Casey was this year's girls team captain and said she couldn't be more proud of the whole team.
"I just want to see the program keep getting more and more successful in the years ahead," Casey said. "The program did great things for me and the other swimmers because coach Brokaw keeps us on the right track both in and out of the pool."
Casey said she looks forward to joining the Cuesta water polo team in August and will also be a member of the school's swim team.
Her sister and former Badger, Erin Casey, is completing her second year at Cuesta and was just named the recipient of George Silveria Student Athlete Career Award, based on her athletic career at the school, involvement in the school and community, sportsmanship, leadership and citizenship.
In the boys division, junior Jeff Foster placed fifth in the 100 butterfly in 56:28. Roosevelt's Noah Haworth edged Foster for fourth by three tenths of a second. Winning the race was Chris Nolan of Corcoran with a meet record time of 50.36. Nolan also set a meet record of 1:41.35 in the 200 freestyle.
Yosemite sophomore Phillip Kudela finished eighth in the 500 yard freestyle in 5:16.97. Independence High's (Bakersfield) Chris Salcido won the event in 4:41.10.
The boys team placed 14th in the meet.
"I am really proud of how all 16 swimmers we took to the meet performed," Brokaw said. "All the boys that went to the Central Section championship meet will be back next year and we expect the boys and girls teams to get North Sequoia League titles."
In addition to Casey's backstroke record and the three school records set by girls relay teams, school records were set this season by Davis in the girls 50 freestyle (26.15) and McConville in the girls 100 freestyle (57.38).
The boys team won its eighth consecutive NSL championship this year and the girls team won its sixth consecutive title.