Courtesy of Erik Baymiller
The Madera Coyotes girls swimming team backed up last year’s Div. II Valley Championship with a repeat Saturday in Bakersfield.
When Madera Coyote girls swimming head coach Erik Baymiller walked into the Div. II championships in Bakersfield, he realized he had been staked to a 42 point lead thanks to the diving team.
With the diving results and the swim results later Saturday, the Coyotes successfully defended its Div. II Valley Championship. In the end, the Coyotes outpointed Bakersfield Christian 256-216 and also defeated Selma by 53 points.
"I didn’t think we would be that far ahead at the end, to be honest,” Baymiller said. “Without diving, we would have lost by three points. That’s how close it was. I thought diving was going to get cut into more and I didn’t think we would hold up as much with swim. The girls stood up and had some great times. We placed a lot of girls in the finals and it turned out good for us.”
Led by Tara Goertzen, who won the 200 freestyle, and the Valley Champion 400 freestyle relay team, the Coyotes improved on their projections for a 40-point victory. Goertzen also placed third in the 100 breaststroke and the 200 freestyle relay team was second.
“When the coaches sheet came out with the times they qualified at, we figured out we were winning one point over Selma,” Baymiller said. “The big thing was diving over exceeded their seed. They scored more than 40 points, which is more than they could do in one event. The Selma coach called me and asked me where we got those divers. I said that’s been our secret weapon.”
With about three events left, after the second place 200 freestyle relay, Baymiller started to feel like his team had enough points to secure the victory.
“The 500 freestyle, they destroyed us,” he said. “They had two swimmers in the top eight to our zero. They didn’t make the top 8 in the 200 relay and we were seeded first. If our long-event relay (400) doesn’t get disqualified and we get top three, we should be okay. I knew our backstrokers would do well and Tara Goertzen brings it home in the breaststroke. We’re so strong in the backside of our line up. The first thing that happened is Selma and Bakersfield Christian kicked our butts in the medley and the 200 freestyle and 200 individual medley. We went even in the 50 free and the butterfly, but we took control at the end. For us coaches, we have to keep our athletes happy until the end. If they start getting down in the front part of the meet, they can get emotional in the end. We kept them happy and confident and told them to do their things and stay in your seeds.”
Although the Coyotes broke through to win the Valley Championship last year, Baymiller felt like this year’s team had to fight through more adversity to repeat.
“I hate put down what we did last year, but this one means so much more,” he said. “There were times I thought the program was going to hit rock bottom. Our morale was so low with girls leaving and injuries and not having the times we wanted. We had a lot of talks as a team. The captains, Ceaira Chavira and Emily Goertzen, took over and said we have to step it up and at least try. The last month and a half, we started grinding it out. I was only concerned about injuries because they were working so hard. It paid off.”
Madera started off the championships with an eighth place finish in the 200 medley relay swam by Nicole McCann, Katie Ylarregui, Ceaira Chavira and Lesley Garnica.
Goertzen qualified as the top seed in the 200 freestyle and beat her time by more than two seconds to win the race by almost three seconds with a time of 1:55.59.
Emily Lopez-Ibarra also placed sixth in the event.
Nicole Gibbs placed seventh in the 50 freestyle to earn 12 points for the Coyotes. Gill swam the 100 freestyle in 57.03 to place sixth.
After qualifying first, the 200 freestyle relay team of Lopez-Ibarra, Gibbs, Gill and Goertzen was outtouched at the wall by 0.19 seconds to place second to Wasco.
Gill came through with a fifth place swim in the 100 backstroke in a time of 1:06.50.
Goertzen lowered her school record by more than a second in the 100 breaststroke and placed third in the valley meet, earning CIF State consideration.
The Coyotes closed the meet with a championship race in the 400 freestyle relay team. The team of Lopez-Ibarra, Gibbs, Gill and Goertzen dropped almost five seconds from its preliminary time to win the race by more than a second (3:44.24).
In the diving competition, Bailey Toney placed fourth to earn a medal with a score of 301.15. Teammates Jocylin Jones was seventh, Brianna Luna was ninth and Ally Barriga was 10th to help the team to the championship.
Although the Stallions didn’t get a swimmer to the Valley Championship finals, they broke several school records and all will be back next year.
Freshman Lesly Madriz broke her own school record in the 100 breaststroke and also broke one minute in the freestyle.
The 200 medley relay team of Melanie Prichard, Madriz, Kevelin Pinto and Jatzelle Salazar broke its best time by two seconds to break a school record.
The 200 freestyle relay team of Salazar, Pinto, Sayra Montesinos and Prichard broke a seven-year-old school record with a time of 2:56.78.
In the 400 freestyle relay, the team of Pinto, Montesinos, Prichard and Madriz broke last year’s school record by more than nine seconds.