Hurricanes hurrah, Stingrays sing

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Six Valencia County youth swimmers grabbed overall individual honors over the weekend at the Sundance Aquatic Association’s 2013 Championship swim meet at the West Mesa Aquatic Center in Albuquerque.

LOS LUNAS STINGRAYS swimmers Trenton Griego, center, and Jacob Mattox react to their teammates’ finish in the Boys 11-12 200-yard freestyle relay at the Sundance Aquatic Association championship swim meet in Albuquerque Saturday afternoon. The Hurricanes took ninth place in the 16-team competition held at the West Mesa Aquatic Center.

Four swimmers from the Belen Aquatic Club’s Hurricanes team took top honors with Preston Pafford and Damien Wood-Wilson placing first and second in the Boys 8 and under division and McKenzie Wood-Wilson and Shaylee Silva doing the same in the Girls 9-10 year-old division.

The Los Lunas Swim Club’s Stingrays team also finished with a first-place finisher, Chesten Browning, who took top honors in the Boys 11-12 year-old division. Meanwhile, Felix Candelaria III helped make it a countywide sweep, taking third in the Boys 8 and under.

“I think my team did well overall,” Los Lunas Stingrays coach Kaitlyn Jaramillo said. “There’s a lot more competition, but I think they did well.”

Finishing in ninth place with 796.0 points, the Belen Hurricanes finished as the top county team in the 16-team competition, which took place Saturday morning and afternoon. The Los Lunas Stingrays finished eleventh with 659.0.

The team from Albuquerque’s High Point Wellness and Fitness Club took first with an impressive 3,254.5 points, far outstripping the second-place team, the Tennis Club of Albuquerque, which tallied 1,460.0 points for the meet.

“All of our kids swam their fastest times today and that’s always what you’re looking for is to finish the year swimming your fastest times,” said Belen Hurricanes coach Jerel Garcia. “So the places don’t matter and the points don’t matter. So long as everyone’s finishing at their peak, that’s good news.

Garcia said his team’s one-two finishers were competitive with each other all season long.

“McKenzie and Shaylee, they’re just tough, tough swimmers,” said Garcia. “They swim against each other all the time and one will beat the other in every other meet. So we made it so they weren’t even swimming against each other.

Garcia said he and his coaches decided to take the same tactic with Pafford and Damien Wood-Wilson, which helped the two with their high end-of-season placements.

“They’re all that competitive with each other, where every race is really a race,” said Garcia. “It just depends on who really brings it. The competition between them is intense. They just want to beat each other.”

Individually, Pafford took first place in the Boys 8 and under division’s 100-yard intermediate with a time of 1:41.83 and 50-yard freestyle with a time of 36.68 and also placed second in the 25-yard butterfly.

Damien Wood-Wilson brought home gold in the Boys 8 and under division’s 25-yard freestyle, with a time of 16.82 and in the 25-yard backstroke, with a time of 21.13.

Both swimmers also brought home first place in the Boys 8 and under 100-yard freestyle relay along with Jacob Marez and Estevan Sanchez, winning with a time of 1:20.27.

Among Belen’s girls, McKenzie Wood-Wilson grabbed three golds in the 9-10 Girls division, winning the 100-yard intermediate with a time of 1:23.84, the 50-yard freestyle in 31.93 and 25-yard breaststroke with a time of 19.14.

Silva took home two golds and a silver in the Girls 9-10 division, placing first in the 25-yard freestyle with a time of 14.06, the 25-yard backstroke with a 14.06 finish. She also placed second in the 25-yard butterfly with a time of 15.71.

Belens’ Maya Montaño also scored a silver, taking second place in the Girls 11-12 50-yard freestyle.

For Los Lunas, Browning was tops with three gold medals in the Boys 11-12 division, placing first in the 50-yard backstroke with a time of 32.30, the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 1:02.39 and the 100-yard intermediate, with a time of 1:11.42.

The Stingrays only other first-place finisher was Marisa Candelaria, who took gold in the Womens 15-18 100-yard backstroke with a time of 1:04.65.

Natalie Baca and Felix Candelaria III both scored silver, Baca placing second in the Girls 8 and under 25- yard backstroke and Candelaria in the Boys 8 and under 100-yard intermediate. Megan Waghorn also took home a bronze in the Girls 9-10 100-yard intermediate.

Jaramillo had high praise for both Browning and Candelaria, calling Browning one of her squad’s strongest, most consistent swimmers with Candelaria beginning to improve on his way to that level.

“We actually moved (Felix) up practice-wise and so he swam with the 11 and 12 years olds toward the end of the season,” she said. “He’s just a strong kid. I can’t wait until he gets taller and more muscular because he’s a very strong swimmer. He’s better with longer distances.”

“So once he’s up with the 13-14s, I think he’s going to do very well,” Jaramillo said.

“Chesten’s times are always near the top,” Jaramillo said. “Even if you look at the relays he was in, he’s always among the fastest. He’s just really strong swimmer.”

The SAA finals came just more than a week after Belen and Los Lunas faced off in a head-to-head meet, won by Los Lunas. Jaramillo said the head-to-head showcased how even the two teams are and how good youth swimmers in the county are.

“It went back and forth,” she said. “We had more older kids swimming so that was the key.”

“We always joke that if we combined teams, we’d go out and kill everyone (at Sundance),” said Garcia.

Jaramillo and Garcia emphasized that the two teams have swimmers who go to school together and swim on club teams together as well, setting up what they both called “friendly competition.”

“We have a very friendly rivalry,” Garcia said. “We have a lot of the same swimmers that we coach. She’ll take them in the wintertime and I’ll get them in the summer. So it’s fun.”

The two teams’ best swimmers made up the Valencia County Super Swimmers squad that took first place at the recent New Mexico games swimming event. Jaramillo and Garcia said a big draw for putting that team together was to form strong relay teams.

But even separately, the Hurricanes and Stingrays relay teams were strong.

On Saturday, the Hurricanes’ younger relay teams both managed to bring home gold. On the girls side, the team of Silva, Wood-Wilson, Jessika Otero and Taylor Gonzalez took two medals in the Girls 9-10 division — gold in the 100-yard medley relay and silver in the 100- yard freestyle relay.

In the Boys 8 and under division, the Belen team of Pafford, Wood-Wilson, Jacob Marez and Estevan Sanchez grabbed gold in the 100-yard freestyle relay.

With the season over for both teams, Jaramillo and Garcia said they were beginning to look toward the clubs’ season and high schools’ seasons in the winter. They said they hope their teams can continue to improve.

“The community is just growing and getting stronger and stronger,” said Garcia.

2013 Sundance Championship Results
At West Mesa Aquatic Center in Albuquerque

Team standings
1) High Point: 3,254.5
2) Tennis Club of Abq.: 1,460.0
3) Tanoan Country Club: 1,457
4) Four Hills C.C.: 1,179.0
5) Socorro Stingrays: 1,089.0
9) Belen Hurricanes: 796.0
11) Los Lunas Stingrays: 659.0

Qualifiers
Belen Hurricanes — Pilar Aguirre, 12; Joelle Benavidez, 14; Kade Benavidez, 11; Alfredo Castillo, 10; Luke Chavez, 10; Megan Gabaldon, 12; Taylor Gonzalez, 10; Luke Griego, 14; Trenton Griego, 11; Tyler Griego, 14; Jayden Lechuga, 9; Jacob Marez, 8; Elias Martinez, 13; Joel Martinez, 11; Jacob Mattox, 11; Marina Montaño, 8; Maya Montaño, 12; Jessika Otero, 9; Preston Pafford, 8; Kristen Pafford, 12; Makaela Perea, 7; Kaitlyn Prevot, 14;  Roman Prevot, 17; Aiden Rodgers, 10; Estevan Sanchez, 8; Simone Sanchez, 13; Kahniho Sanillanes, 13; Kylee Silva, 6; Shaylee Silva, 9; Aalijiah Thompson Armijo, 12; Destinee Vigil, 14; Peyton Williams, 7; Damien Wood-Wilson, 8; McKenzie Wood-Wilson, 10.

Los Lunas Stingrays — Christopher Aragon, 10; Logan Aragon, 8; Isabel Baca, 13; Natalie Baca, 8; Aubrey Baldonado, 9;  Cloe Baldonado, 11; Katie Baldonado, 7; Jeffrey Benavidez, 12; Jaki Blea, 14; Jessica Blea, 15; Jhanira Blea, 17;  William Blea, 12; Chesten Browning, 12; Garret Bundrant, 9; Felix Candelaria III, 8; Marissa Candelaria, 17; Cati Chavez, 15; Nicole Emami, 8; Brandon Engler, 14; Jonathan Gamez, 16; Faron Gomez, 16; Kyle Hegarty, 11; Hannah Jolley, 12; Nathan Jolley, 15; Chasity Kear, 8; John MacIntosh, 14; Jessica Murray, 12; Victoria Pontnack, 10; Alexandra Sanchez, 9; Analicia Sanchez, 12; Luke Sanchez, 9; Aryn Simmons, 10; Daphne Smith, 14; Megan Waghorn, 10; Ameie Williams, 9; Shannae Williams, 14; Kassidy Young, 14; Robbie Zannoti, 9

Individual standings
Boys 8 and under
First place – Preston Pafford, Belen Hurricanes
Second place – Damien Wood-Wilson, Belen Hurricanes
Third Place – Felix Candelaria III, Los Lunas Stingrays
Girls 9-10 years old
First place – McKenzie Wilson, Belen Hurricanes
Second place – Shaylee Silva, Belen Hurricanes
Boys 11-12 years old
First place – Chesten Browning, Los Lunas Stingrays

Top finishers
Individual:
Belen — Preston Pafford – (3) First place: Boys 8 and under, 100-yard intermediate, 1:41.83; Boys 8 and under 50- yard freestyle, 36.68. Second place – Boys 8 and under 25-yard butterfly, 19.60. Maya Montaño – (1) Second place: Girls 11-12 50- yard freestyle, 28.72;
McKenzie Wood-Wilson (3) – First place: Girls 9-10 100-yard intermediate, 1:23.84; Girls 9-10 50-yard freestyle, 31.93; Girls 9-10 25-yard breaststroke, 19.14
Shaylee Silva – (3) First place: Girls 9-10 25-yard freestyle, 14:06; Girls 9-10 25-yard backstroke, 14:06. Second place: Girls 9-10 25-yard butteryfly, 15.71.  Damien Wood-Wilson (2) – First place: Boys 8 and under 25-yard freestyle, 16.82; Boys 8 and under 25- yard backstroke, 21.13.

Los Lunas — Chesten Browning (3) – First place: Boys 11-12 50-yard backstroke, 32.30; Boys 11-12 100-yard freestyle, 1:02.39; Boys 11-12 100-yard intermediate, 1:11.42. Natalie Baca (1) – Second place: Girls 8 and under 25-yard backstroke, 23.06.Felix Candelaria III (1) – Second place: Boys 8 and under 100-yard intermediate, 1:44.35.
Marisa Candelaria (1) – First place: Womens 15-18 100-yard backstroke, 1:04.65.
Megan Waghorn – Third place: Girls 9-10 100- yard intermediate, 1:26. 46.

Team
Belen — Belen – First place: Girls 9-10 100-yard medley Relay (Shaylee Silva, McKenzie Wood-Wilson, Jessika Otero, Taylor Gonzalez), 1:09.43;  Boys 8 and under 100-yard freestyle relay (Preston Pafford, Jacob Marez, Estevan Sanchez, Damien Wood-Wilson), 1:20.27. Second place: Girls 9-10 100-yard freestyle relay (McKenzie Wood-Wilson, Taylor Gonzalez, Jessika Otero, Shayee Silva), 1:02.21;