It was fairly easy for the Yosemite High School boys varsity swim team to beat North Sequoia League opponent Kerman April 20 at home 107-73, but for the girls team, it came down to the last of 10 events to decide the winner.
Going into the 400 yard freestyle relay, the Lady Badgers were up by six points. And although Kerman won the event, getting eight team points, Yosemite finished second and third for a total of six points - and the four point victory (83-87). It was the first time in three years the girls team has beaten Kerman.
Both the Badger boys and girls teams are now 4-0 in NSL competition, with two meets to go - both are favored to beat Chowchilla at home, 4 p.m., on Thursday, and then it’s on to the NSL Championship Meet in Kerman on May 5.
The boys team is expected to win its 12th consecutive league title. If the girls can win at the NSL meet, they will have the league title to themselves for the second consecutive year and for the tenth time in the past 11 years.
Kerman girls won the title in 2015. If the Kerman girls win the NSL meet, the Badgers would share the league title with the Lions.
After the meet, Head Coach Brandon Brokaw said he has been talking to his girls team all season long about the importance of last Thursday’s meet.
“Some of you were a little stressed out but everyone did their job to enable this big win to happen today,” Brokaw said. “Now you need to win the league championship meet (at Kerman May 5) to win the league title outright. If Kerman beats you we will be co-champs.”
Brokaw pointed out some “gutsy” performances on the day, including sophomore Randi Johnson in winning the 200 freestyle (2:14.83) and team co-captain Kaily Neal swimming in three consecutive events.
Brokaw also praised divers Olivia Mattos and Trinity Zelazo for placing one-two in the diving competition, picking up 10 points for the team.
Kendra Tapia wins two races
Kendra Tapia won two events for the Yosemite girls - the 50 (28.42) and 100 (1:04.76) yard freestyle. She was also on two second place relay teams - the 200 medley (2:09.84) with Neal, Julia Knott and Elsie Keeler - and the 200 freestyle (1:57.10) with teammates Jessica Star, Zelazo, and Samantha Rockey.
Knott won the 100 breaststroke (1:23.12) with Neal placing second (1:27.36). Rockey won the 200 IM in 2:33.29, and placed second in the 100 freestyle (1:0.46). Neal also placed second in the 100 backstroke (1:15.12).
Neal said it will take lot of teamwork and continued dedication for the girls team to beat Kerman at the league championship.
“We are all going to have to work as a family to keep pushing each other to be better, and to stay positive.,” Neal said. “It’s going to take everyone’s best swims of the season to beat them. We’ve worked hard all season and will continue to do so.”
Owen Bassett gets four firsts
For the boys team, it was senior Owen Bassett leading the Badgers with four first place finishes - two individual, 50 free (23.77) and the 100 butterfly (1:04.42) - and two relay teams - 200 medley (1:55.40) with teammates Peter McLean, Ethan McCully and Hunter Kahn, and the 200 frees tyle (1:42.87) with McLean, Kahn and Joe Dudley.
Yosemite’s 6-foot-4, 220 pound junior Hunter Duke also had two first places finishes, powering through the 200 (2:03.87) and 500 (5:33.64) freestyle races, the latter nearly 30 seconds ahead of Auston Center of Kerman.
Other fist place finishers for Yosemite were captured by Tyler Asis in the 200 IM (2:34.45), Kahn in the 100 free (53.76), and McLean in the 100 backstroke (1:06.25).
After each meet, Brokaw recognizes swimmers who have excelled by presenting them a neon pink swim cap.
Pink caps went to Owen Bassett, for four first place finishes including relays, and Natalie Guynn, for her “incredible finish” in the 100 breaststroke to place fourth (1:31.01).
Other team members who have been honored this season with the caps include Josh Johnson, Rockey, Kahn, Katherine Bayt, Jessica Wade, Randi Johnson and Niki Johnson.
Boys co-captain McLean said everyone on the team is improving their times every week.
“We are focused on winning the 12th consecutive league championship for Coach Brokaw,” McLean said.
“Everyone is swimming well right now and we are primed for a strong finish with the championship meets coming up,” Brokaw said. “Right now we have six swimmers that have qualified for the D-II Valley Championships in their individual events, and 5 of 6 relay teams.”
The D-II diving meet will be held May 10 at Clovis West, and the D-II swimming meet is scheduled for May 12 and 13 at Bakersfield College.