Lady Tigers’ relay qualifies for state

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For the first time since 2008-09, a Valencia County relay team is qualified for the state championships.

At Saturday’s Cibola Invite, held at the West Mesa Aquatic Center, the Los Lunas High girls 200 freestyle relay team qualified for the state championships. The team of Marissa Candelaria, Faron Gomez, Miranda Candelaria and Shannae Williams placed third in the 200 free relay with a time of 1 minute, 55.34 seconds — about two seconds faster than the qualifying mark.

News-Bulletin file photo: Faron Gomez helped her Los Lunas High girls 200 freestyle relay team qualify for the state championships at Saturday’s Cibola Invite. The Los Lunas and Valencia teams compete in the District 2-1A/5A Championships this Saturday at Albuquerque Academy.

Marissa Candelaria is the only county swimmer qualified for state in an individual event, the backstroke. The Los Lunas and Valencia teams compete in the 10:30 a.m. District 2-1A/5A Championships this Saturday at Albuquerque Academy, and entries can only qualify for state by equaling the mark or winning the event.

The state championships will also be held at Academy, with the prelims on Friday, Feb. 22, and the finals on Saturday, Feb. 23.

The 200 free relay performance helped the Lady Tigers place fourth in girls points at the Cibola Invite, behind La Cueva, Cibola and Los Alamos. The Valencia High girls placed seventh.

The state-qualifying mark makes the quartet the first relay team since Marissa Candelaria (then an eighth-grader) combined with Kaitlyn Chavez, Kaitlin Jaramillo and Lana Ellis to reach state in the medley relay.

The lineup of the Candelaria sisters, along with Gomez and Williams, are also close to qualifying in the 400 freestyle relay. They placed third at the Cibola meet with a time of 4:17.79, or 0.07 seconds away from state-qualifying.

The Candelaria sisters, along with Williams and MaKenzie Smith, are also only a few seconds off of qualifying in the medley. The group of Lady Tigers placed fourth on Saturday.

Marissa Candelaria was fifth in the 100 freestyle, while Miranda Candelaria was eighth in the 50 freestyle. Smith was seventh in the backstroke and eighth in the 100 butterfly.

Andrea Sena placed sixth in the 500 freestyle, and Kassidy Young was eighth in the backstroke.

The Valencia girls got a seventh-place effort from Jensen Hatch in the 50 freestyle, and Adelene Armenta was eighth in the 200 freestyle. The 200 freestyle relay team of Armenta, Shay Gardner, Isabel Baca and Hatch was fifth, and the same four girls were ninth in the medley.

The Los Lunas boys placed fifth as a team, while Valencia was seventh. Their highest finisher was Tommy Browning, who placed fifth in the 500 freestyle.

Jonathan Gamez placed fifth in the 100 butterfly, and he was also eighth in the 100 freestyle. Eddie Lopez was eighth in the backstroke.

Dante Risso was eighth in the 100 breaststroke. Orion Zuni placed seventh in the 200 individual medley.

Gamez combined with Lopez, Risso and Tommy Browning to place sixth in the medley relay. Browning, Risso, Zuni and Gamez were on the 400 freestyle relay team that was also sixth.

The 200 free relay team of Ryan Romero, Phillip Hammon, Andre Saiz and Lopez also placed sixth.

Gerardo Gutierrez accounted for the only Valencia boys points. His best finish was the 100 freestyle, where he finished 14th.


-- Email the author at jbrooks@news-bulletin.com.