Kimball begins its Valley Oak League dual meet season on Friday, March 8,
with a double dual with Lathrop and Weston Ranch in Lathrop. Tracy and West both head to the Oakdale Invitational on Saturday, March 9.
All three teams will meet at West High on March 19 for the Pinkie Invitational, an all-city meet held in honor of late Tracy Tritons and West High swim coach Pinkie Phillips.
Tracy and West begin their league seasons the last week of March.
West Wolf Pack
In his third year as coach, Clay Basepayne hopes to see the boys and girls teams move past their perennial third-place status, behind St. Mary’s and Tokay, in the Tri-City Athletic League.
Basepayne and assistant coach Pat Windschitl — who also coach the Ellis Aquatics year-round swim team in Tracy — have 35 swimmers this year with a combination of returning section qualifiers and new swimmers.
West had three relay teams in a nonleague home meet Friday, March 1, against Weston Ranch. West’s girls outscored the Cougars 127-42.
“On the girls side, it’s the biggest team we’ve had,” Basepayne said. “Three years ago we barely had enough for one relay team. Now all of a sudden we have 12 healthy girls up for each relay.”
Returning senior Kristen Steed said that everyone on the team is enthusiastic about West’s growing program.
“We have really good coaching and these new people are really going to improve throughout the year,” Steed said.
Among the returning girls, juniors Madison Tessera competed at the section meet in the breaststroke and Cassidy Waters competed in the freestyle.
On the boys side, sophomore Jason Bussey added that the team has high expectations for its eight freshman boys.
“Just having a bigger team and
having freshmen who have swam before really helps out the rest of the team,” Bussey said. “It just gives everyone motivation.”
Senior Matt Dunniway said the boys’ 123-36 win over Weston Ranch was a look at meets to come.
“Our coach has been pushing us right out of the gate,” he said. “I expect this year is going to be a good year for our team.”
Tracy High coach Erin Mann said the Bulldog team continues to benefit from swimmers who compete year-round.
More than 40 swimmers came out for the team this year, and Mann said that programs like Ellis Aquatics have helped to develop young swimmers.
“Hopefully we get these guys to catch on and swim year-round,” Mann said. “If they go to Ellis I’m happy with that,”
Freshman Nathan Hu is among the new swimmers that Mann and co-coach Jessica Lenart expect to do well this year.
“I’m looking forward to a couple meets where I know there will be some good tough swimmers,” said Hu, who competes in the butterfly and 500 free.
Tracy’s girls include returning juniors Maisy Green and Kylie Taylor, both section qualifiers from 2012.
“This year we have a lot of good newcomers. Lots of freshmen who seem to have a lot of experience,” Green said.
Tracy also has a diving team. Coach Dominique Banner said one girl and five boys will compete against SJAA rivals Lincoln and Lodi and nonleague teams including St. Mary’s.
Senior Cassidy Dolstra, a former gymnast who quickly adjusted to
diving in her junior year, was the 2012 SJAA girls diving champion and a
Senior Chris Sonderman went to the section-level boys competition in 2012. He said that while diving requires strength and flexibility, it mostly requires confidence.
“It’s actually pretty intense. The competition is really tough, but I try to do my best,” he said. “It’s all mental, being able to do the flips and do the twists, and not being afraid to hit the water.”
Kimball High’s swim team is in its fourth year, growing steadily each year. For 2013, the Jaguars have 44 swimmers who aim to improve on the girls’ fifth-place finish in the Valley Oak League and the boys’ sixth place league finish.
Senior Kyle Nunes is one of four swimmers who have been with the Kimball program since it began in 2010.
“Starting out the first year was about having fun and getting the team stronger. Just watching it grow has been fun,” he said.
Other fourth-year swimmers are seniors Sydnie Black, Courtney Andres and Michaela Loomis.
Andres said the team’s strength is in the bond that swimmers have as they watch the team grow.
“We want to include everybody. We don’t want anybody left out,” she said. “It’s something special to be a part of.”
Loomis returns as defending VOL champion in the girls 100 butterfly and 100 breaststroke. She went on to place second in the breaststroke (1:04.29) at the 2012 Sac-Joaquin Section meet and hopes to beat that time soon.
“I’ve improved in every other event,” Loomis said. “I know that I’m getting better, but I’m just waiting for seconds to fall off.”
• Contact Bob Brownne at 835-3030 or email@example.com.