Valley swimmers, divers compete at state

Harlingen High, Harlingen South, Los Fresnos, McAllen High, McAllen Memorial and Weslaco High all represented the Rio Grande Valley at the Class 6A State Swimming & Diving Meet prelims Friday at the Lee & Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center in Austin.

The Region VIII-6A champion Lady Falcons swam in the first heat of the 200-yard freestyle relay, led by sophomore Rebeca Osuna, junior Emily Rodriguez, senior Sarah Villarreal, and junior Maria Monogas. Clocking in at 1:50.80, the Lady Falcons placed 23rd.

In 5A state competition, Brownsville Veterans diver Nico Alvarez earned an eighth-place finish in prelims with a score of 368.90.

The Los Fresnos Falcons, led by seniors Luis Osuna, Nate Layva, and Robert Waters in the 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle relays, featured Jonathan Hernandez in the 200 freestyle and sophomore Evyn Garcia 400 freestyle. The Falcons edged McHi with a time of 1:32.16, and McHi’s James Moore, Diego Davila, Diego Rodriguez and Nilton Dos Santos combined to swim a 1:32.88 and finished 24th in the 200 freestyle prelims.

“State is a humbling experience, we had great 2019 swim season defending our district titles and winning a regional championship,” Los Fresnos swim coach Jaime Perez said via text message. “And earning a trip to compete against the best swimmers and divers in Texas, it’s overwhelming, but where there’s a will there’s a way. We are trying to get together an all-star Valley swim team for the summers and compete against our state competition in club meets, and show our kids that we are capable of success at that level. It is a process, and if we work together we can make it happen.”

In the 400 freestyle, Los Fresnos again was 23rd, finishing in 3:24.31 ahead of McAllen Memorial’s Cooper Gates, Richard Rodriguez, Sebastian Restrepo and Alan Cortez at 3:25.27.

Osuna individually placed 23rd in the 200 freestyle, (1:46.34) topping regional rival Fernie Pineda of Laredo Alexander (1:47.75). He also turned in one of the best performances of the day by a Rio Grande Valley swimmer, placing 19th in the 100 freestyle with a time of 47.86 seconds.

Harlingen South’s Justin Diaz (54.65 seconds) and Weslaco High’s Daryl Wells (55.78) finished 23rd and 24th in the 100 backstroke, respectively. Diaz and Weslaco High’s Brock Bloomquist paced each other in the 200 individual medley, registering times of 2:01.10 and 2:02.5, and placing 23rd and 24th, respectively.

“We did not make finals for (today), but we had a heck of year and I am very proud of these individuals who competed at state,” Harlingen South coach Hector Castaneda said via text message. “It’s a great privilege to even be here to compete with the best in the state, and I would even go as far as saying the best in the nation. As a team we are going to continue to work hard with our goal next to make state again but also the opportunity to swim and dive on finals day.”

The Harlingen High Lady Cardinals and the Lady Hawks sent three divers to state, including the Lady Cards’ Amber Warner (237.25 points), who missed qualifying for Saturday’s final by one spot, and the Lady Hawks’ Cassie Vela (22nd place, 187.25 points) and Mae Kennedy (24th place, 164.65 points).

“They all did really well, last year Amber ended up in 23rd and this year she finished 17th,” HCISD diving coach Yvonne Moran said. “We’ve moved up, and we’re getting better little by little. I had never taken any girls to state before for diving in UIL, so it was a huge improvement.”

Warner’s previous experience at state helped her adjust to the heightened nerves that state competition can bring to first-timers.

“I definitely did better this season, because I knew what to expect,” Warner said. “It was enjoyable (competing in front of large crowd in Austin).”

Moran and Warner expect to be back again next season, with another foundational experience at state under their belts.

“I just went into it hoping to have fun with my team,” Warner said. “And I was one point from being No. 16.”

Stefan Modrich Total Posts: 158 Stefan Modrich is a 2017 graduate of Arizona State University, where he was the Sports Editor for The State Press, ASU's independent student news publication. He is also a graduate of the University of Zagreb in Croatia, where he completed a foreign language program in 2018. A native of Franklin Park, Illinois, Modrich previously covered high school sports for The Arizona Republic, Chicago Tribune, and Mars Reel Media.