Valerie Osier/staff writer
May 15, 2014
The Riverside City College swimming and diving season has wrapped up with the Tigers’ eighth place finish in state after the CCCAA state championships, held at East Los Angeles College May 1-3.
With about 35 teams competing in the finals, several teams coming out of Orange Empire Conference ranked in the top 10, including: Orange Coast College, Golden West College and RCC.
According to the Tigers women’s swim and dive coach Doug Finfrock, the OEC is one of the toughest conferences, and to have three teams from the same conference go to state is impressive.
“We exceeded expectations,” Finfrock said. “(The Tigers) had set a goal this year, based on our talent and what we had with being top 10 in the state, and we ended up finishing in eighth place.”
Finfrock stated the relays stood out the most at state for the Tigers. The women’s 800-yard freestyle relay team of Tiffanie Perez, Keonni Obert, Celena Peters and Emmie Betz set a program record by 3/100 of a second and came in seventh overall.
This year’s team was a young composing of 22 freshmen and only seven sophomores.
Finfrock said some of the swimmers to keep an eye out for next season are Alexa Lane and Katy Holmes.
Although Holmes had been out of the water for over a year, Finfrock knew she had the capabilities of going to state.
“For her to be out of the water then to make the strides she made this year in order to make state and start to return to form and everything, was really good to see,” Finfrock said.
The men’s team also did well at state, setting several school records.
Freshman Seva Eagle set four school records in the 50, 100 and 200 freestyle events, as well as the 100 butterfly.
Similar to the women, the men stood out in their relays and set a school record of 6:58:81 in the 800 freestyle relay.
The swimmers on that relay team, Eagle, Nathan Diaz, James Reyes, and Brandon Seay, also set the school record in the 400 freestyle relay with a time of 3:09:23.
“We feel good about being in the top 10…what we’re happy about was that everyone swam personal best times this year,” Jason Northcott, the Tigers men’s swim coach, said. “A lot of these guys have trained in a lot of different places, but to know that we got the best out of everybody, and the guys committed to the team and we set a couple of school records, some in relays and some in individuals, but knowing that we were able to do those things is something we can look back on and we can be proud of this season and the efforts we put forward.”
In one of the more exciting races, Reyes came in just a second behind the winner in the 1,650-yard freestyle, with a personal best time of 16:17:75.
“What was exciting about that race was that James gave the leader a 25 second lead with just 250 (yards) to go and he had his kick in the end and brought it within one second,” Northcott said. “He was gaining on him so fast that if we had about 25 more yards, he would’ve probably won the race, but he ran out of pool.”
Four divers went to state and performed well. Amy Bruns finished third overall in state on both 1-meter and 3-meter dives and James Terrell Mauldin finished second out of 16 in the 1-meter, just four points behind the champion.
“I have a feeling that I could’ve taken first place for the 1-meter, but I unfortunately, messed up on my first dive and that cost me,” Mauldin said. “But otherwise, I feel OK about my performance I’m glad I ended on a good note.”
This season was the first season with Finfrock as the head coach of the women’s team after Dave Almquist retired in 2013.
“I had the privilege of working with coach Almquist for 10 years,” Finfrock said. “I feel like he taught me a great deal and really mentored me along the way and let me be more than just an assistant coach, and really kind of let me be like a co-head coach with him. But, if I spent my time trying to fill his shoes, I think I’ll probably drive myself crazy. I’ve got to try continue the success here at RCC with the aquatics programs and kind of make out my own path and my own name along the way. There won’t be another Dave Almquist.”