Going into the Central California Conference varsity swim meet this weekend, Pitman High is making a run for the title on both the boys (4-1) and girls (4-1) teams, trailing only Merced, and sitting nicely with a pool filled with both veteran talent and leadership.
Turlock is a young team that is still strong yet searching for their identity although they do have a solid number of section hopefuls that could potentially shine. Both the girls and boys are sitting in third place in the CCC at 3-2.
Gavin Madrigal, Josh Buck, Annika Jasek-Rysdahl, Jordyn Kennell, of Pitman High School and Sarah Phillips, Hannah Groteguth, Trent Yandell and Zach Glidden from Turlock High School are those top hopefuls competing this season.
“Going into the year we knew we would be competitive but I just didn't know if we had the top dogs to hang in league and it’s three more wins at the varsity level than we got last year,” said Turlock boys head coach Nick Serratos.
“We are just really excited for this meet coming up,” said Pitman boys head coach Ryan Bullard.
The Pitman ladies are anchored by juniors Jasek-Rysdahl and Kennell, both section qualifiers.
“CCC is an important meet especially for the team, but I am really focused on doing well at sections,” said Jasek-Rysdahl. “I think we all work very hard and our coach pushes us really hard and a lot of it is we have fun together and it helps that we are like a family.”
Jasek-Rysdahl has been swimming at the varsity level since her freshman year and holds a personal record of 5:30 in the 500 free. She also placed second in the 500 free at Stan Counties and third in the 200 IM.
Kennel says that her peak for a personal record came her freshman year at the varsity level and since then she has been steady with her best time of 1:02 in the 100 fly.
“I like competing at the higher level,” said Kennel. “I am excited for CCC because as a team I think we will do well but I’m more focused on sections. That is what our training goes mainly towards at the end.”
Junior's Sarah Phillips and Hannah Groteguth are the top two swimmers for the Turlock girls’ squad this year and have kept a steady pace at the top of the pack heading into the CCC finale.
Groteguth will be competing in the 200 IM and the 100 breaststroke after a very successful year where she had a personal record of 2:39.3 in the IM and a time of 1:19 in the breast.
“Every year I have improved my time by at least a second and it might not sound like much but it is a lot actually because the events I swim in are hard to make an exponential increase,” said Groteguth. “I am hoping to place top eight in both events; this year I should be there for sure.”
Phillips has been at the varsity level since her freshman year, competing with older girls at a very young age, which has helped this junior improve tremendously and she is now one of the top swimmers in the area.
“It’s been intense swimming with the older girls, but it has definitely made me a competitor definitely,” said Phillips.
Phillips had a personal record this year in the 100 breaststroke, taking two seconds off and finishing with a time of 1:12.5.
“Although I like the 50 free more I think I can do well in both,” said Phillips. “We have a shot at CCC if all of our girls show up to swim. I think we can pull off a miracle, but our ultimate goal is for sections and you have to qualify and it shows how hard you worked for it because not everyone gets to go to sections.”
The Pitman boys are in great shape, led by four-year varsity swimmers in seniors Gavin Madrigal and Josh Buck.
With a long list of top finishes, Madrigal's personal record of 50.23 in the 100 freestyle is an impressive feat but he is not satisfied and will be looking to best his record by the time the weekend concludes.
“I am looking to break 50 and my focus for now is CCC to do my best then and then sections as well especially for my team,” said Madrigal. “I like the competition. I started working very hard the second I came out and made varsity.”
Buck, who has been swimming since the age of nine, came into Pitman well prepared for the top notch competition and since then he has flourished.
“I want to get 52 or 53 for CCC,” said Buck. “I am already looking ahead into sections because I already raced everyone once in CCC to see where I am at and sections will be different because they are the top guys and I just like racing different schools to see where I'm at.”
The Turlock boys’ team, which is primarily made up of underclassmen, is anchored by senior Zach Glidden and sophomore Trent Yandell.
In his first year at the varsity level, Yandell has been working extremely hard to compete and keep up with his peers.
“There has been a lot stress because I have had to compete against a lot better swimmers than I ever did before. People are so much faster, more skill and more technical work involved,” said Yandell. “I have been practicing with Nick here and also with my club coach to get more workouts.”
Yandell placed third in the Merced County Meet and took fourth in the 400 free at the County Championships and has a personal record of 1:55 in the 200 free and his best relay start time in the 100 is a 50.8.
“I qualified in two varsity events for sections,” he said. “I am super excited and get to pick and choose what I want to swim and I should be in the top 10 in all events, but I am nervous and I don't know how I will do compared to everyone else.”
Glidden has been one of the best swimmers in the area and without a doubt at Turlock High for the last several years and in his final season, the senior is looking to end it with an unforgettable finish.
“It’s been pretty great to be able to compete against some of the top notch swimmers in the area and I am just glad I had the opportunity to do this,” said Glidden.
Glidden said that his most memorable moment was beating Pitman last week and finishing with a personal record in the 100 backstroke of one minute flat. In the 200 free he has a best time of two minutes.
“I am looking to get some good times or finish atop the standings in league in backstroke for sure,” said Glidden. “I want to PR and have a good time with my teammates. We have a lot of young guys in our team and we have done well for having a smaller team. I want to encourage my teammates and help them out to get their best times.”
The CCC trials are scheduled for Friday and the final races will take place on Saturday at Golden Valley High in Merced.