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Warrior mermen win league meet to share league title

Pearce, Vance, Maestas, Bushnell, Ritchie take individual championships

Joe Naiman

Village News Reporter

Half of the formula for the Valley League boys swim championship is based on standings for dual meets and the other half utilizes positions at the league championship meet. During the dual meet season, Ramona had a 5-0 record, including a 107-78 home victory April 5 over Fallbrook, while Fallbrook was second with a 4-1 record. The Warriors thus needed to outscore Ramona in the league meet April 27-29 at Fallbrook High School to obtain a share of the league championship.

Fallbrook outscored the Bulldogs by 14 points at the league meet, so the Bulldogs and Warriors shared first place in the final standings. Fallbrook had 366 points; Ramona garnered 352 points; Mission Hills was third with 216 1/2 points; Valley Center had the fourth-place total of 107 1/2 points; Escondido accumulated 87 points, and Escondido Charter finished with 66 points.

“It’s great to win a championship,” said Fallbrook coach Bill Richardson. “We don’t get them every year.”

Last year, Fallbrook was third in the league standings. San Marcos, which was not in the Valley League for 2022, won the league championship and Ramona placed second. The coronavirus outbreak canceled the 2020 league season. Fallbrook won the 2019 league championship with San Pasqual, which is also no longer in the Valley League, taking second and Ramona placing third. Fallbrook, San Pasqual, and Ramona were also the top three teams in that order in 2018.

“To get a share of first place shows the effort of the boys,” Richardson said.

In a dual meet, each school is allowed three swimmers or divers in each individual event with position points being given the top five finishes and two quartets in each relay race with points given for the three fastest times. Each school was allowed four swimmers or divers for each individual event at the league meet. The swim preliminaries, which did not include relay races as each school only had one scored relay quartet for each race, were held April 27.

The swimmers with the top six times in each individual race advanced to the April 29 championship finals while those with the six next fastest times swam in the April 29 consolation finals. The diving took place April 28. Points were given for 12 positions in each individual event including the diving.

“We took a lot of first-place swims in the league championship meet,” Richardson said.

Individual league championships, including relay teams, are based solely on performances at the league meet. Fallbrook senior Doug Pearce won the championship race and thus the league championship in both the 200-yard freestyle and the 100-yard butterfly. Pearce had a total of four league championships including relay races; senior Brock Bushnell, junior Ian Ritchie, senior Kai Maestas, and Pearce won the 200-yard freestyle relay while Pearce, Ritchie, Maestas, and Bushnell were the order of the winning 400-yard freestyle relay team.

Maestas also had two individual league championships, winning the 200-yard individual medley and the 100-yard breaststroke. Bushnell was the 50-yard freestyle champion, and sophomore Carson Vance won the 500-yard freestyle.

The results of the swim preliminaries guaranteed schools position points in the finals, but Ramona’s boys took an early lead after the completion of the diving. Ramona senior Caden Clark won his second consecutive league championship with a score of 229.60 points on six dives while Ramona senior Matthew Thomas was second with 210.30 points. Ramona also obtained fifth-place points in the diving.

“That gave them a bit of an edge,” Richardson said. “We didn’t have a chance with so few boys.”

Fallbrook’s only diver at the meet, freshman Felix Alcorn, was fourth with a score of 166.90 points. The other Fallbrook diver, sophomore Jamison Ewig, was in Oklahoma for his brother’s college conclusion.

The first swim event at a high school meet is the 200-yard medley relay. Vance, senior Matthew Herbert, senior Tegan Cannon, and sophomore Sam Goode had the third-place time of 1:48.40.

The first individual event at a meet is the 200-yard freestyle. Pearce had the winning time of 1:46.68. “He’s just an exceptional swimmer and athlete. He dropped a ton of time,” Richardson said. “He’s strong and just had a great race.”

Ramona junior Logan Barrows finished in 1:48.92 for second. Vance had the third-place time of 1:50.10. All four of Fallbrook’s swimmers qualified for the championship race; freshman Alex Gabos-Urcikan completed the race in 2:03.36 for fifth place and Goode was sixth at 2:03.51.

Fallbrook also had all four 100-yard freestyle swimmers in the championship race. “Those two events probably won the meet for us,” Richardson said.

Although Ramona junior Dustin Walter won the 100-yard freestyle in 47.87 seconds, Bushnell took second with a 48.29-second performance; Ritchie had the third-place time of 49.70 seconds; junior Brayden Bender posted a time of 53.38 seconds for fifth, and Gabos-Urcikan took sixth with a 53.97-second swim.

Walter broke a 2013 school record which had been held by a current Ramona assistant coach when he won the 100-yard backstroke in 52.98 seconds. Ritchie completed that race in 59.16 seconds for third place; Goode was sixth at 1:06.41, and senior Jake Martin gave Fallbrook 10th-place points for his time of 1:17.75.

In two other championship races, Fallbrook took first place and Ramona garnered second-place points. Vance had a winning 500-yard freestyle time of 5:06.31 while Ramona junior Aidan Pedersen became the next finisher 5:18.90 after the start of the race.

Pedersen had the initial lead before Vance overtook the Ramona merman. “He swam that race very smart,” Richardson said of Vance.

“He was patient and slowly reeled him in,” Richardson said. “Carson ended up beating him by 12 seconds, which is almost a full length of the pool.”

Fallbrook High School’s pool has 25-yard laps. Two other Warriors contested the 500-yard race; junior Logan Enns was fourth at 5:47.84 and freshman Milo Pollard completed his 20 laps in 6:09.56 for ninth place.

Bushnell, Ritchie, Maestas, and Pearce finished the 200-yard freestyle relay in 1:30.67. The Ramona quartet needed 1:31.04 to take second. “We beat them out there at the end,” Richardson said.

The final event of a meet is the 400-yard freestyle relay. With 32 points given for first place in each relay race and 26 points provided for second, Ramona could have won the meet and the league championship by winning that race. Pearce, Ritchie, Maestas, and Bushnell completed their laps in 3:18.99 for the victory. Mission Hills finished second at 3:25.09 to increase the final margin between Fallbrook and Ramona.

“3:18 is a really fast time,” Richardson said. “The boys had great swims and great relay exchanges.”

Maestas won the 200-yard individual medley in 2:03.76 with Mission Hills sophomore Jaeden Tran having the second-place time of 2:09.25. “He had a dominating swim. He led from the beginning and pulled away,” Richardson said of Maestas.

The medley races involve the backstroke, the breaststroke, the butterfly, and the freestyle. Fallbrook junior John Norman took sixth place for his 2:20.14 performance; sophomore John Hodgkinson had the seventh-place time of 2:27.93, and freshman Ethan Baur completed the consolation final in 3:17.30 for 11th place.

Maestas won the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:01.44 while Tran finished second at 1:04.97. “He’s been very focused on his breaststroke this year,” Richardson said.

“He led from the very beginning and as the race rolled on he just kept being faster and faster and he had a great race,” Richardson said. “He got his best time of the year.”

Herbert had the fifth-best breaststroke time of 1:07.52; Cannon completed the race in 1:09.91 for sixth place, and Hodgkinson posted the 10th-place time of 1:14.65.

The breaststroke is the event prior to the 400-yard freestyle relay conclusion and thus gave Fallbrook a cushion over Ramona. “That event was the difference maker, but all of them count,” Richardson said.

Bushnell needed 21.74 seconds to win the 50-yard freestyle. “Had a great swim,” Richardson said. “He’s just a great sprinter.”

Escondido Charter senior Lars Thorogood was second at 23.00 seconds. Herbert completed the consolation race in 23.99 seconds for ninth place; Bender took 10th with a swim of 24.07 seconds, and junior Jonathan Nelson had the 11th-place time of 24.47 seconds.

The 2021 league meet 50-yard freestyle championship race was also won by Bushnell, whose time last year was 21.96 seconds.

Pearce also repeated his 2021 league championship, winning this year’s 100-yard butterfly in 52.78 seconds. “He just took it out from the start and no one could keep up with him,” Richardson said.

Thorogood gave Escondido Charter second-place points with a 53.79-second performance. Cannon was eighth and finished in 58.43 seconds, Alcorn took ninth place with a time of 1:04.39, and Norman had the 10th-place time of 1:10.25.

“The boys swam well,” Richardson said. “Those scores really add up.”


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