In between his enthusiastic announcements over the public address system during Friday’s Monterey Bay League finals at Christopher High, Cougars swimming coach Jeff Ross squeezed in a few just-as-invigorating pep talks.
As the meet reached its midway point, senior Marga Garcia walked up to Ross, who immediately set down the microphone and flipped the switch to coaching 101.
“This is your last race in high school,” Ross said, not needing to enhance his message much more.
Garcia, the lead swimmer for the Cougars’ girls 200-yard freestyle relay, was responsible for passing along a few other tidbits to her teammates, sister Natalie Garcia, Hanna Marquez and Sabrina Seery moments before the start of the race.
Though the group missed out on a Central Coast Section qualifying time, its 1 minute, 52.96 seconds finish was a first-place performance for the foursome – a MBL championship, in other words – and contributed to the Cougars second-place overall finish behind only Monterey High.
Monterey handily won its 12th consecutive boys and girls MBL crowns, nearly doubling the scores of the four other schools.
“This says it all right here,” Ross said, pointing to the printout that had the final team scores, thrilled with his team’s accomplishment. “The boys and girls both contributed, which makes it that much better.”
The boys’ version of the 200 free relay, anchored by one of only seven seniors (boys and girls combined), James Benson, took second.
“James has been really good for the team this year,” Ross said. “We are going to miss him.”
Though Garcia – who also won a league title in the 50 free (21.7 seconds), beating her sister Natalie ( 27.48) to the wall – and Benson made their marks as seniors, Friday was also about showcasing some of the team’s up and comers and gaining a glimpse into the future, Ross said.
“We have a good crop of freshmen that we have right now,” he added. “Next year we will cut into that lead a little bit.”
Included in that group of ninth graders, Natalie Garcia took second in the 500 free with a personal best 5:54.55, while freshman Cody Oberlander had a personal best time of 1:30.31 in the 100 free and 27.76 in the 50 free.
In all 22 swimmers hit personal best marks Friday: 50 free – Kristina Bjoemoe (freshman) 34.1; Yesse Delgado (freshman) :35.8; Aleie Garcia (freshman) :35.5; Julia Graham (junior) 37.6; Alexis Maciel (freshman) 31.18; Hanna Marquez (freshman) 28.36; Cody Oberlander (freshman) 27.76. 100 free – Lauren Bright (freshman) 1:20.00; Jimmie Lopez (sophomore) 1:09.05; Cody Oberlander (freshman) 1:03.31; 200 free – Anthony Balbas (freshman) 2:21; Shelby O’Hara (junior) 2:30.32; Chris Mendoza 3:05.38; Jasmine Pena (freshman) 2:56.75. 500 free – Natalie Garcia (freshman) 5:54.55; Shelby O’Hara (junior) 6:39.02; Kiana Ruybal (freshman) 7:41.78; Alyssa Dorn (junior) 7:33.7. 100 breast stroke – Bella Marquez (sophomore) 1:26.97; Erica Shuster (senior) 1:39.20. 200 individual medley – Kaitlin Ramirez (junior) 3:12.95. 100 butterfly – Amanda Gallo (sophomore) 1:42.59.
“Total team win – depth,” Ross said. “If we stay in this league, we will go for the title (next season.) Best group of parents I have ever worked with. They turned every rock over to make our meet a success.”