McDaniels, Stephens win league championships – Warrior mermen as team share second in league

Although Fallbrook High School’s boys swim team shared second place among the Avocado West League teams, Fallbrook senior Sam McDaniels and Warrior sophomore Ricky Stephens won individual league championships.

McDaniels won both the 100-yard butterfly and the 100-yard breaststroke during the league finals May 10 at The Wave in Vista. The league diving meet took place May 9 at Fallbrook High School, where Stephens not only won the meet with 398.45 points on 11 dives but also set a school record. The league meet also included swimming preliminaries May 8 at The Wave.

Ironically, the difference in diving points was also the difference between sole and shared possession of second place. Because the league meet utilizes an 11-dive format and thus requires skill in that many dives, Stephens was Fallbrook’s only diver. La Costa Canyon, which finished second, had four divers. Fallbrook and La Costa Canyon had an equal number of swim points at the meet.

“We feel good about where we finished,” said Fallbrook coach Bill Richardson. “We had a great league season.”

The Warriors won the Avocado League championship in 2010 and the Avocado East League championships in 2011 and 2012, but the North County Conference realignment placed Fallbrook into the Avocado West League with Carlsbad, La Costa Canyon, El Camino, Vista, and Rancho Buena Vista. “This was a much tougher league,” Richardson said. “We knew that coming in.”

The final league standings are based on both records in league dual meet competition and position at the league meet. Fallbrook posted a 4-1 record in dual meets, losing only to Carlsbad. The Lancers were undefeated in league dual meets after closing the dual meet portion of their season with a win over La Costa Canyon, whose only other loss was to Fallbrook.

Carlsbad won the league meet with 531 points. La Costa Canyon accumulated 463 points. Fallbrook had 422 points. El Camino’s 364 points gave the Wildcats fourth place. Each school can enter up to four swimmers or divers in each individual event at the league meet, and the top 16 are scored. The swimmers with the top eight times in each event at the preliminaries advance to the championship race while those with the next eight times compete in the consolation finals.

One of La Costa Canyon’s divers was Trace Fisher, who placed second with 315.55 points. Stephens not only beat the second-place diver by more than 80 points but also shattered the school record by nearly ten points. Chris Knitter had scored 388.60 points on 11 dives in 2010.

“Ricky’s an exceptional diver and we look forward to seeing him progress in the next two years,” Richardson said.

McDaniels had a time of 54.70 seconds to win the 100-yard butterfly. His third consecutive league championship in the 100-yard breaststroke took him 1:01.93. “All of his hard work paid off,” Richardson said. “Both of his swims were pretty dominating performances. He beat out some real tough kids.”

The butterfly championship race also included sophomore Tristan Curnow, whose time of 57.39 seconds gave him fifth place. Two Fallbrook sophomores were in the consolation finals; Jacob Karasek placed 10th with a time of 58.01 seconds while Connor Kuhn posted the 12th-place time of 58.26 seconds.

All four of Fallbrook’s breaststroke swimmers also advanced to the finals. McDaniels was joined in the championship race by senior Austin Fagrell, who swam the race in 1:02.79 for fourth place. Seniors Kellen Costantino and Nathan Benner closed out their high school careers in the consolation finals; Costantino’s time of 1:07.82 placed 10th while Benner was 13th at 1:09.20.

Fallbrook also earned finals points from four swimmers in the 200-yard freestyle. Sophomore Bobby Guerra was second at 1:43.20; senior Truman Reich captured sixth place 1:49.17 after the race began; junior Quinn Harrison placed 13th with a time of 1:55.00, and sophomore Chase Carpenter’s 16th-place time was 1:59.21.

Carpenter fared better in the 100-yard backstroke, capturing third place with a time of 58.99 seconds. Kuhn won the consolation race in 1:00.48 to earn ninth place while junior Jake Smyth was 15th at 1:06.79.

Guerra also took second place in the 500-yard freestyle, spending 4:40.34 in that competition. Toby Fast, the only freshman on Fallbrook’s varsity, posted a time of 4:59.18 to win the consolation race and earn ninth place. Harrison placed 13th with a 5:15.81 performance.

The swimmers in the championship finals are guaranteed the top eight positions even if a consolation race time is faster than a championship race time. In the 50-yard freestyle, sophomore Victor Haywood placed eighth at 23.67 seconds while junior Chandler Smith took 11th place with a time of 23.66 seconds. The winning consolation race time would have placed third in the championship finals. Curnow was also in the consolation race; his time of 23.69 seconds gave him 12th place.

Fallbrook had no championship race participants in two events. Reich won the 100-yard freestyle consolation race and ninth place with a time of 50.79 seconds, Haywood placed 12th after completing the race in 52.37 seconds, and junior Hayden Vanderstelt finished 15th at 53.23 seconds. Fagrell’s time of 2:05.62 won the 200-yard individual medley consolation finals and ninth place while Fast swam his laps in 2:11.16 for 13th.

Guerra, Fagrell, McDaniels, and Reich comprised the 200-yard medley relay team whose time of 1:41.16 placed second. The Warriors also placed second in the 200-yard freestyle relay; the 1:30.65 posted by Fagrell, McDaniels, Reich, and Guerra was behind only the 1:30.63 of their Carlsbad counterparts. “Fell just a little short there,” Richardson said.

“The race really came down to starts and turns,” Richardson said. “We had a chance, but we just got a little bit behind.”

The meet closed with the 400-yard freestyle relay. Smith, Curnow, Haywood, and Kuhn swam that in 3:27.52 for fifth place.

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