Santa Rosa upset swimming powerhouse Maria Carrillo Friday in a North Bay League meet that showcased the talent of high school swimmers, not just the ultra-competitive year-round swimmers.
Carrillo, whose boys and girls teams had gone undefeated in the last three league seasons, lost 91-75 in the boys competition and 100-60 in girls.
“Our practices are about to get a lot harder,” said Pumas coach Rick Niles. “This meet definitely got my attention.”
Although Carrillo was missing several key female swimmers, including 2015 All-Empire Girls Swimmer of the Year Piper Brockley and three others, Niles gave credit to Santa Rosa’s depth and hard work.
“We had few firsts and a lot of places I expected a second, we came in at fourth,” he said. “We got spanked.”
Carrillo defeated the Panthers in the teams’ last two meetings, both by only a point or two.
Santa Rosa coach Ericka Richards attributed to the win Friday to the swimmers who compete only for their school teams. Both teams have several swimmers who compete year-round with the Neptunes club team.
“This team is a good balance,” she said. “We have strong Neptunes, but the high school kids put in a lot of work to fill in the gaps.
“In the last three years, my high school swimmers have improved by leaps and bounds. That’s the difference here. I’m proud of them.”
Santa Rosa’s Caroline Mertz won both the 200- and 500-meter freestyle races, in 2:03.42 and 5:26.68.
Rachel Pride won the 100 breaststroke (1:11.39) and the Panthers finished a tight one-two in the 100-meter butterfly, led by Taylor Sargis (1:03.15) and Megan Jones (1:03.45).
The Santa Rosa girls swept every individual event and won the 200 medley relay (1:57.70), while Carrillo took the 200 free relay (2:04.71) and the 400 free relay (4:07.49).
Santa Rosa’s David Mertz, a freshman, took first in both of his individual races, with a 1:51.18 in the 200 freestyle and 4:51.18 in the 500 free.
Sophomore Trevor Jones won the 100 backstroke in 1:00.06, just out-touching Carrillo’s John Madden.
Carrillo’s boys took the 200 medley relay, 400 free relay and four individual sprints.
Santa Rosa’s Mertz said his 500 free win went by the book. He led virtually the entire race, extending it little by little on the final few laps.
“The first half I try to keep strong. I usually want to be a little ahead and push it the last 100 yards or so,” he said. “It felt pretty good.”
Jones said he only knew he’d won his 100-meter backstroke event when he looked up and saw his teammates celebrating.
“I had just done a 200 free relay, so I didn’t get much of a warmup,” he said, adding that it was one of his best races for high school. He also races the 200 backstroke for the Neptunes.
Carrillo’s Holman Pettibone won his 100 breast in 1:03.64, leading from start to finish.
“I’m just focusing on getting to the NCS this year,” he said. “Dual meets are good practice for that.”
Pettibone admitted, however, that the rivalry with Santa Rosa added some extra emotion to Friday’s meet.