The Los Lunas girls and boys teams placed low in the standings at the District 2 Swim Meet Saturday, but both teams were able to qualify relay squads, ensuring that the Tigers will participate at the State Swim Meet Friday and Saturday at Albuquerque Academy.
The LLHS girls 200-yard medley relay team of junior Faron Gomez, eighth-grader Kiley McCleary, freshman MacKenzie Smith and sophomore Shannae Williams became the third different line up to post a state-qualifying time on Saturday at the Albuquerque Academy Natatorium, finishing in eighth place with a time of 2:12.79.
It was the third time the Tigers had qualified for state in the event, with three different squad lineups.
Gomez, McCleary and Williams, along with sophomore Miranda Candelaria, also posted a state-qualifying time in the Girls 400-yard freestyle relay, posting a time of 4:11.63, good for ninth.
The Los Lunas girls finished ninth overall in the 11-team swim meet, scoring 103 points. The Valencia girls finished 11th with a score of 20 points. Hosts Albuquerque Academy won the district meet with 546, far outstripping second-place Rio Rancho’s 393 points.
On the boys side, Los Lunas finished sixth with 113 points, while Valencia did not field a team, entering only three swimmers on the boys side. As with the girls, host Academy beat out Rio Rancho for the top spot, the Chargers out-scoring the Rams 578-397.
The Tigers boys qualified for the state meet in the second event of the morning, the Boys 200-yard medley relay. The team of freshman Tommy Browning, junior Jonathan Gamez, freshman Caleb Garnand and sophomore Orion Zuni posted a time of 1:54.48, good for sixth place and good for a spot at the state.
“We had a lot of good times today. For the majority of our swim team, this is their last swim meet (for the season) unless they made it on a relay,” said coach Lin Onsae, who coaches both the Los Lunas and Valencia boys and girls.
“Overall, I’m really pleased with everything,” he said. “Again, the relays that didn’t qualify, a lot those kids are younger — eighth, ninth and a few tenth graders — so again it was a building year. Next year, we should make it into the second day at state.”
Top finishers on the boys side included Los Lunas’ Gamez, who finished seventh in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 1:03.80 and ninth in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 1:02.62.
Tommy Browning took 10th in the 100-yard butterfly and 13th in the 50-yard freestyle, while Garnand and Zuni finished 11th and 12th, respectively in the 100-yard backstroke. Andre Saiz finished in 11th for LLHS in the 100-yard backstroke as well.
Valencia’s top finisher on the boys side was Gerardo Gutierrez, who placed 20th in the 200-yard freestyle.
“We were close but again, it just gets down to times,” said Onsae of the teams not qualifying individual swimmers for state. “With high school times, they’re a lot faster (than club). It’s just one group.
“Our guys are close, Tommy (Browning) is the closest in the 50-yard freestyle. He’s got to cut two seconds and that’s a lot of time.
Onsae said Gamez of the boys squad and McClear for the girls were also close to qualifying as individuals this season and should improve in the future.
“But again we have a lot of young swimmers and we haven’t had a boys relay team qualify in probably five or seven years.”
On the girls side, Smith was LLHS’s top finisher with a ninth-place finish in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 1:10.82. She also finished 13th in the Girls 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:20.73.
Los Lunas’ McCleary was close behind with a 10th place finish in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 28:38 and a 13th place spot in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 1:02.68.
Candelaria also placed 11th in the 200-yard intermediate and 15th in the 100-yard freestyle.
Valencia’s Adelene Armenta was the top girls finisher for the Jaguars, coming in ninth in the Girls 500-yard freestyle with a time of 6:39.71.
Onsae said he his relay squads are up against tough competition at the state meet, which begins Friday afternoon.
“The Girls 400-yard relay has a shot at qualifying in the top 16 (for Saturday), they are the closest,” he said. “The guys, if I look at their times now, out of the 20 teams that have made it in they’re probably 18 or 19. They have to swim their hearts out because a second is hard to drop.
“But there could be a change, something could happen, you never know,” Onsae said.