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Second-place Spartans

Orcutt Academy’s girls swimming team finished second for the second consecutive year at the CIF Southern Section Division 4 Finals. Senior Emily Mathis center, holding plaque, repeated as girls Division 4 breaststroke champ.

Len Wood/Staff

Orcutt Academy’s swimmers weren’t exactly thrilled with a second consecutive second-place finish to Cerritos at the girls divisional finals.

The Spartans weren’t exactly disappointed either.

Going into the CIF Southern Section Division 4 meet, which took place May 14 (preliminaries) and May 16 (finals) at Riverside City College, “We were really hoping we could win,” said Orcutt Academy senior Emily Mathis.

“Then as I saw Cerritos’ swimmers keep scoring, I was a little disappointed,” said Mathis. “But I didn’t want to bring the team down. No one wanted to bring the team down.

“Cerritos had, like, 30 girls scoring and we had, like, seven. To finish second with seven (swimmers) scoring is amazing,” said Mathis. “The team did a really good job. Cerritos has a great team. They just had so many more girls than we did. Second place was not bad at all.”

The top-seeded Mathis repeated as the girls Division 4 100-yard breaststroke champion. The only sectional champion in Orcutt Academy’s five-year history won in 1 minute, 5.51 seconds this time.

“I was happy with the swim,” said Mathis. “It was faster than last year by .25.

“The second half of the race really did it for me. I was actually something like fourth when I flipped (on the turn halfway through the race), and my coach (Deanna Ayers) was (thinking) ‘What are you doing?’”

Mathis knew what she was doing.

“I didn’t want to take it out too fast, and the second half of the race I actually got out in front by two seconds.”

Mathis, and juniors Dria Kwong and Emily Ayers (Deanna’s daughter) all had second-place finishes for the Spartans in open events. Mathis was the runner-up in the 200 individual medley (2:08.23). Ayers placed second in 5:15.66 in the 500 freestyle, and Kwong finished second in the 100 backstroke (1:00.50).

Dria Kwong also finished fourth, in 1:00.32, in the 100 butterfly. “I was really happy with both, they were both personal bests, in club (competition) and high school,” she said. “I got (under 1:01) in both.” 

Emily Ayers beat her former best in the 500 “by four seconds,” she said.

“The last half was what did it for me. I just wanted to stay relaxed in the first half. My (first and second half) splits were really good.”

The Spartans’ 400 freestyle relay team of Mathis, Maddie Callis, Kwong and Emily Ayers also finished second, in 3:47.74. 

Orcutt Academy divers Kailey Roux and Amairani Andrade gave the Spartans a boost with third and fifth-place finishes respectively.

“I scored 301.75 points,” said Roux, who is a senior. “I’ve scored a lot higher, but I was happy with third place.”

Orcutt Academy’s 200 medley relay team of Dria Kwong (backstroke), Mathis (breaststroke), Jamie Sahlberg (butterfly) and Claire Wolfgang (freestyle) wound up third in 1:47.29.

Three Spartans placed in the 500 freestyle. Wolfgang, a freshman, finished sixth in 5:31.73. Sahlberg wound up eighth in 5:36.85.

Other Spartans top-nine finishers included Ayers in the 200 freestyle (fifth in 2:00.51), and the 200 freestyle relay team of Callis, Lizzie Kwong, Wolfgang and Emily Ayers (seventh in 1:48.32).

Lizzie Kwong placed 12th in the 200 freestyle, Sahlberg finished 13th in the 100 butterfly and Callis was 14th in the 50 free. Those three swam in consolation finals, and scored points for the Spartans, in those races.

Dria Kwong and Emliy Ayers echoed Mathis’ feelings about the Spartans finishing second to the Dons again.

As for her team’s prospects next year, “It’s going to depend a lot on whether we move up to Division 3 or stay in Division 4,” said Emily Ayers.

“If we stay in Division 4, it’s going to be a fight for second place since we’re going to lose our best swimmer (Mathis). If we go up to Division 3, it’s going to be really hard to be in the top five. Division 3 is a really tough division.”

Dria Kwong nodded her assent.

Mathis and Roux both have set college plans. Mathis has verbally committed to swim for Boise State on a 70 percent scholarship. Roux will, at the least, dive for Riverside City College.

“Whether or not I swim or not will depend on my schedule,” she said.