Benefield: SRJC swimmers have strong showing at Big 8 championships
Don’t get her wrong, Taylor Sargis is certainly happy and grateful to be the two-time Big 8 Female Swimmer of the Year. But when talking about the Big 8 Championship meet at American River College in Sacramento this weekend, her voice didn’t rise and fall talking about her three championship wins. It rose and fell talking about her teammates’ results, especially sophomore Mary Lane’s come-from-behind win in the 200-yard butterfly in the final day of competition.
“She pushed off the wall, I don’t know what it was, I think it was her turn, in my brain I was like, ‘She’s going, the wheels are turning,’ ” she said. “She was just moving so fast. It gave me chills, watching her swim.”
Lane came into the race as the top seed, but was a full body length behind the leader with 25 yards to swim. And race leader, Sierra freshman Rory Nuuhiwa, was on a mission, swimming miles ahead of her seed-time pace.
“Mary’s was probably the most exciting race of the meet,” coach Jill McCormick said. “The end of the 200 fly is probably the worst feeling on the planet. Your legs are shutting down, your arms are shutting down, you are completely hypoxic. You are just in the red.”
For Lane to make up so much distance in so little time?
“It just brought the house down,” McCormick said. “It was just a gutsy, warrior type of swim.”
Lane clocked in at 2:12.64, just ahead of Nuuhiwa’s 2:13.11. To put into perspective the kind of inspired swim Nuuhiwa was having before Lane nipped her at the line — Nuuhiwa’s qualifying time was 2:20.13.
“I have never seen her want something so bad as in that race,” Sargis said of her teammate.
Those were first-place points the Bear Cubs needed. In the end, the women finished in second in the Big 8, with 630 points to Sierra College’s 769. Delta finished third with 609. The men’s team, made up of just three returning sophomores and 14 freshmen, finished fourth behind a three-event sweep by freshman Mark Sidorenko.
“It’s hard to go in as top seed in three things and come out with wins in three things,” McCormick said. “So many people are going big in our conference. Our conference is the fastest in the state.”
Few swimmers went as big last weekend as either Sargis or Sidorenko. Both swimmers came in as top seeds in three events and both swimmers won all three. Sargis’s performance earned her her second-straight Big 8 Female Swimmer of the Year honor.
“It doesn’t happen very often,” McCormick said of the back-to-back honor.
Sargis beat her own SRJC and Big 8 meet record of 2:22.59 in the 200-yard breast stroke in a dominating performance. She clocked in at 2:20.59. It was the only meet record broken all weekend.
Second place in that race, Diablo Valley College sophomore Jamie Wanket, finished in 2:26.14.
“That’s big. That’s crushing it,” McCormick said.
“She is technically the best breast stroker I think I have ever had,” she said. “She is super efficient. Your inefficiencies start to come out with fatigue. Her stroke is so efficient, she is not wasting energy.”
Well, she wasn’t wasting energy in the water. She might have wasted some on the pool deck, cheering on her teammates.