Top 10 finish for ‘Rays and ‘Canes

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The 2014 season ended very well for both the Belen Hurricanes and Los Lunas Stingrays swim teams at the Sundance Championship swim meet at the West Mesa Aquatic Center on Saturday, July 19.

Just 39 points separated the fifth-place Los Lunas Stingrays, who finished with 853 points, from the seventh-place Belen Hurricanes, who finished with 814 points.

Submitted photo: BELEN HURRICANES SWIMMERS, Damien Wood-Wilson, left, McKenzie Wood-Wilson, center, and Shaylee Silva, pose with championship plaques after the Sundance Championship swim meet.

The Hurricanes claimed 14 medals overall compared to seven for the Stingrays and seven gold medals to Los Lunas’ one. At the top of the gold medal list was Belen’s Shaylee Silva, who won gold in the girls 9-10-year-old 25-yard and 50-yard freestyle as well as the 25-yard backstroke. Silva broke the Sundance meet record in the backstroke with a time of 15.22, topping the old mark set in 1991 by Belen’s Dione Hidalgo.

“We have a handful of experienced swimmers that we had high expectations for,” said ‘Canes coach Andi Montaño, “and we had a lot of novice swimmers who stepped up and surprised us. To finish seventh out of 17 teams was great accomplishment. We’re very happy to finish in the top 10.”

Stingrays coach Kaitlin Jaramillo was also pleasantly surprised by her team’s finish.

“The fifth-place finish wasn’t expected at all,” she said. “When we found out that we placed fifth I couldn’t believe it. Our kids definitely deserved it.”

Joining Silva on the medal stand were teammates McKenzie Wood-Wilson, who won gold in the 11-12-year-old 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard freestyle as well as silver in the 50-yard backstroke, and Jessika Otero, who won gold in the 9-10-year-old 25-yard butterfly;

On the boys side, Damien Wilson-Wood took home gold for the Hurricanes in the boys 9 to 10-year-old 50-yard freestyle. Teammate Trenton Griego, 12, took home a pair of bronze medals and Roman Prevot, 18, also won bronze. The Hurricanes’ relay team of Kade Benavidez, Samuel Sedillo, Joel Martinez and Griego also took home silver in the boys 11 to 12-year-old 200-yard freestyle relay, as did the girls team of Silva, Wood-Wilson, Jonelle Trujillo and Taylor Gonzales in the girls 11-12-year-old 200-yard freestyle relay. Maya Montaño, 13, also took home a bronze medal.

Los Lunas finished with three relay teams just off the medal stand, with a pair of fourth-place finishes as on in fifth-place, which helped their standing.

Katie Baldonado, 8, claimed the Stingrays’ only gold in the girls 8- and under 25-yard butterfly and added a silver medal as well. Sister Cloe Baldonado, 12, took home a pair of silver medals, as did Robbie Zannoti, 10. The ‘Rays lone bronze was won by Kyra Garnard.

Both teams qualified a large amount of swimmers — 44 for Los Lunas and 42 for Belen, which both coaches said was a big part of their success.

“Having more kids allowed us more opportunities for top finishes at the Sundance Championships,” said Jaramillo, who also praised first-year Kyleigh Winters and multiple-qualifier Kyle Hegarty. “Overall everyone represented our team well.”

Montaño had praise for her entire team, including first-time qualifier Eli Martinez, the team’s only boy in the 13-14-year-old boys division, and Simone Sanchez, who swam as an individual this year after having qualified as part of relay teams in previous years.