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By Rod Thornburg/ Special to The Californian
BY ZACH EWING Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Centennial might just make a habit of this.
The Golden Hawks girls swimming team won another Southwest Yosemite League championship at Cal State Bakersfield, this time in a Friday evening that had nearly turned into Saturday morning by the time it was finished.
Last year's title ended Stockdale's 17-year reign atop the SWYL girls podium. This time, Centennial held off a trio of challengers to back up its undefeated dual season.
The Hawks also added a boys title, a feat that snapped Stockdale's seven-year streak. Centennial scored 458 points, edging past Liberty's total of 430.5 despite the Patriots' victory in all three relays.
The girls' victory was also tight, with Centennial's 443 out-lasting Liberty's 395, Frontier's 368 and Stockdale's 367.
"This is a really neat treat," Centennial coach David Graves said. "It's the first time in school history we won both."
None of this was decided until after 11 p.m. in a meet that started at 5 p.m. and met with early delays that took the meet from a sweltering afternoon at the pool to a late-night block party.
That didn't hurt the quality of the swimming.
Leading the charge for the Hawks were a couple of distance specialists, Andrew Hargis for the boys and Emily Cruz for the girls. Hargis won the 200-yard individual medley (2:01.66) and the 500 freestyle (4:53.50), and Cruz the 200 free (2:04.42) and 500 free (5:44.44), races in which she's unbeaten this year. She also helped Centennial's 200 freestyle relay team to victory (1:46.24) and swam a comeback anchor leg for the win in the 400 freestyle relay (3:52.42).
Nick Treiberg also won twice for the Golden Hawks, taking the 100 butterfly (54.35) and 100 breaststroke (1:01.75).
But Centennial's victories were about depth as much as stars. Take Tanner Sampson, a sophomore who dropped 15 seconds from his 500 freestyle time to qualify for the section championships next week.
"It's hard to single anyone out," Graves said. "We had so many boys step up and do awesome. Morgan Musquez and Whitney White have been phenomenal all year for our girls."
Chandler Bullman starred for Frontier, helping the Titans girls win the 200 medley relay (1:56.56) and then taking the 200 IM (2:16.13) and 100 butterfly (1:00.51). Jorie Caneta, just a sophomore, also swam on the medley relay and blazed to a victory in the 100 freestyle by more than two seconds, clocking a 55.03.
Individual stars for the boys included Liberty sophomore Drew Lari, who swam the backstroke leg of the Patriots' winning medley relay team (1:42.92) and then showed off his versatility by winning the 50 freestyle (23.15), helping Liberty take the 200 freestyle relay (1:32.59) and taking second in the 100 backstroke to Stockdale's Brock Bonetti (55.30).
"For all of these kids who were at school in the morning, some of them took AP tests, and to still be out here this late and performing this well, it's amazing for every athlete out here," Graves said. "Every coach has had headaches tonight, but kudos to all of them."
Up next is the Central Section championships, next Saturday at Clovis West.
"We would love to be top five there," Graves said. "We don't have the swimmers across the board to compete (for a championship) at that level, but top five would be great."