Fallbrook High School’s boys swim team won its Avocado West League opener April 9 against Rancho Buena Vista at The Wave.
The Warriors outscored the Longhorns by a 90-80 margin while taking first-place points in seven of the eleven events including the first two relay races.
“We feel ready for the league season,” said Fallbrook coach Bill Richardson.
The Warriors have moved to the Avocado West League after spending the previous two seasons in the Avocado East League. “We are in the toughest league, I think,” Richardson said.
“This meet was an indication that it’s not going to be easy to repeat as league champions,” Richardson said. “It was a little closer than I was thinking it was going to be.”
Fallbrook not only won its third consecutive league championship in 2012 but also the CIF Division I championship. The Warriors had eight seniors on the 2012 team, including Avocado East League swimmer of the year and 50-yard freestyle CIF champion Mike Maryn.
The CIF meet gives points to schools based on positions of individual swimmers or relay teams in the finals. Swimmers or relay teams can qualify for the CIF preliminaries by posting automatic times, and the field of 24 swimmers or relay teams for each event in the preliminaries is filled by adding the swimmers and relay teams with the fastest consideration times. A swimmer can only compete in two individual events and two relay events at the CIF meet regardless of how many automatic times he posts.
The ability to qualify for the CIF meet in multiple events, along with the occasional need to vary from a rigid routine, sometimes leads coaches to place swimmers in “off-events” at some meets. Richardson placed many of his swimmers in off-events against Rancho Buena Vista. “The boys swam well enough to win and did a good job,” Richardson said.
A high school meet begins with the 200-yard medley relay. Fallbrook won that event with a time of 1:48.11. Bobby Guerra swam the backstroke, Austin Fagrell represented the Warriors in the breaststroke, Sam McDaniels was Fallbrook’s swimmer in the butterfly, and Truman Reich closed out the race with the freestyle stroke.
Reich then returned to the pool for the 200-yard freestyle race, winning that in 1:53.44. Although the Longhorns took first place in the 200-yard individual medley, Fallbrook captured points for the next three positions headed by Connor Kuhn’s second-place performance of 2:13.66. The Longhorns had the top two finishes in the 50-yard freestyle and also won the 100-yard butterfly, although Kuhn’s second-place time of 59.14 seconds in the butterfly was his first ever under a minute in that event.
The Warriors then obtained first-place points in the next five races. McDaniels won the 100-yard freestyle in 49.88 seconds. The Warriors had the top two finishers in the 500-yard freestyle race with Guerra spending 4:56.36 competing and Toby Fast completing the 20 laps in 5:13.96.
Fast is the only freshman on this year’s Warrior varsity. “We pretty much expect Bobby to take first,” Richardson said. “To have Toby take second really changed the dynamics of the meet.”
The next event was the 200-yard freestyle relay. McDaniels, Fagrell, Victor Haywood, and Guerra won that event with a time of 1:33.25.
Guerra’s win in the 100-yard backstroke took 57.14 seconds. Fagrell needed 1:01.58 to win the 100-yard breaststroke.
Fallbrook’s 20-point lead entering the 400-yard freestyle relay afforded Richardson the opportunity to use that race for developmental purposes. A school can enter up to two quartets in a relay race, and the Longhorns had the top two finishes.
The 90-80 score isn’t final. If both schools have divers, the diving event is also scored (if only one school has a diver, diving is not scored in a dual meet but a diver may compete for CIF qualifying purposes). Because The Wave doesn’t have diving facilities, the Rancho Buena Vista divers will join Fallbrook and Carlsbad at the April 19 dual meet in Fallbrook between the Warriors and Lancers. The Longhorns would need to post the top three diving scores to tie Fallbrook.
In addition to giving Fallbrook a 1-0 Avocado West League record, the win over Rancho Buena Vista improved the Warriors’ overall season record to 4-2. “We’re really doing pretty well,” Richardson said. “We had some pretty tough opponents in the pre-season.”
One of Fallbrook’s losses was to Mount Carmel by two points. The other was to Torrey Pines by 12 points; the Falcons touched out their Fallbrook counterparts for the first-place points in all three relay races. “We lost that meet by 12 but really only lost that meet by about 12 to 15 inches,” Richardson said.
Fallbrook won the 2010 Avocado League championship before the North County Conference expanded from three to four leagues. The Warriors won the 2011 Avocado League East title as well as the 2012 league championship, so Fallbrook is seeking its fourth consecutive league title.
This year the Avocado West League consists of Fallbrook, Rancho Buena Vista, Carlsbad, El Camino, La Costa Canyon, and Vista. “It’s a lot more competitive than the East was. I think we have a shot at winning it, but we’ll see. Every meet’s going to be closely contested,” Richardson said.