CLOVIS — Coming out of spring break, the Paso Robles Bearcats swim and dive team hit the road and headed to Clovis. The team was invited to compete in the Clovis West Invitational. Per the Clovis West aquatics website, the invitational was first held in 1987 and has since grown into one of the largest swim meets on the entire west coast. An invite is a prestigious honor and many of the top competitors in the state come to compete and see how they measure up before league and conference finals begin. In 2016 alone, the invitational meet claimed to have more than 1,550 swimmers and divers compete.
The Bearcats showed up and performed well, not even considering the competition. Considering all the athletes and schools in attendance the Bearcats had a terrific showing. All together the team recorded 44 personal bests in both swimming and diving and nine different CIF qualifying times or scores. As a team, the Bearcats finished in an impressive eighth-place at the Clovis West Invitational. The boys team also finished eighth while the girls finished seventh.
The dive team traveled five athletes in total, two who would compete with the varsity and three that would compete with the junior varsity. Sophomore diver Cori Southward notched another impressive showing on his metaphorical belt for this season, placing third overall. Southward only narrowly missed coming in second place at the invitational scoring 322.75.
“Cori had a really great meet and a strong showing, I think he only missed second place by a point and half,” head dive coach Donna McRoy said. “He didn’t quite PR (personal record) but he did score another CIF qualifying score and it was great practice seeing older more experienced divers.”
Senior diver Breanna Williams also competed with the varsity this past weekend as she tried to perfect her 11-dive list for the upcoming PAC-8 Swim and Dive Championships.
“This was Breanna’s second time performing with the varsity, but we were really trying out some new things,” coach McRoy said. "We are really trying to increase the difficulty and she finished the competition but didn’t score as well because of the really hard stuff.”
For the JV, Cole Engstrom finished in fifth place and Emily Eras competed for just her second time this season and completed all six of her dives. Emily Williams finished in second. Williams is a freshman that will probably get a shot to compete at CIF — she is currently working on finishing her 11-dive list.
The Bearcat relay teams have been tearing up the PAC-8 this season, and this weekend they got their best chance to compete with the top teams from around the state. The girls 400-meter relay comprised of Mackenzie Raymond, Emily Christian, Miranda Pasky and Audrey Hughes finished the closest to the podium. The lady Bearcats posted a CIF consideration time of 3:49.50 and still finished in fifth place. In fact, the meet was full of so many fast swimmers that the Bearcats posted a CIF consideration time in the 200-meter freestyle relay and finished eleventh. The 200-meter relay was swam by Shannen Dodds, Sarah Clark, Cece Ramirez and Raymond.
All three of the lady Bearcat relay teams posted CIF considerations times on Saturday, as did several of the individual athletes. Raymond and Hughes both posted CIF consideration times in all four events they competed in —two relays and two individual. In the 200-meter freestyle Raymond touched the wall in sixth place with a time of 2:00.33, and in fourth place in the 500-meter freestyle with a time of 5:16.88.
The boys 400-relay team also impressed on Saturday finishing twelfth in the 400-meter freestyle relay. Swimming for the boys was Grant Scheiffele, Zach Tucker, John Nash, and Gavin Hughes. The freestyle relays are generally filled with each team’s four strongest swimmers because it is the fastest of the races and doesn’t require a special stroke. It is similar to the 4x100-meter relay in track and field, so finishing in the top twelve out of more than 1,500 athletes is no small feat.
Scheiffele scored the highest from the boy’s swimmer on Saturday, he finished twelfth again in the 200-meter freestyle with a time of 1:49.55, but saved his best performance for the 100-meter butterfly. Scheiffele posted a CIF consideration time of 54:56 and came in fifth-place, narrowly missing the podium.
The Bearcats swim and dive teams will begin the PAC-8 championships next week, May 1-4 in San Luis Obispo.