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Blue Devil swimmers reign in meet with Raiders

DHS swimmer Matt Whittle dives in for the final leg of the boys 400 freestyle relay on Tuesday at Arroyo Pool. The Blue Devils won the race on their way to a 136-33 victory over Rio Americano. Fred Gladdis/Enterprise photo

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From page B1 | April 10, 2013 |

The Davis High boys and girls swimming squads leapt into the Arroyo Pool as predators, with a ferocity that overcame Rio Americano’s athletes on Tuesday evening.

Apparently hungriest were the Blue Devil boys, who had one of their own leading the pack during all of their events to take a convincing 136-33 win over the Raiders. The DHS girls displayed just as much desire to climb the food chain, but ended with a tighter 91-81 victory.

With one month left until the Sac-Joaquin Section Championships, the Devils will take all the positive results they can get. Only the local girls enter the May 11 SJS finals as defending champions, but if Tuesday’s performance is any indication, the Davis boys are equally promising contenders.

Matt Whittle, Andrew Block, Jonathan Pun and Riley Hickman were a few of Blue Devils making that case in Tuesday’s nonconference dual meet, each placing first in their respective events.

Also proving this was Adam Raabe, who made the final lap of his 500 freestyle event with two teammates in tow for the third top-three DHS sweep of the night. By then, victory had already been cemented for the local boys.

The foreshadowing of what would become an overall commanding performance by the Devils came much earlier — when Raabe finished the 200 freestyle in 1:54.90, more than five seconds ahead of the competition.

Throughout the meet, DHS head coach Tracy Stapleton preferred to evaluate the performance of both the boys and girls squads based on how well they stayed the course under pressure, not the times they clocked.

“(Tuesday’s) meet was, above all else, an opportunity for our athletes to push themselves in a competitive setting, against Rio Americano’s solid program,” Stapleton said.

For the Blue Devil girls, perhaps the most notable athlete was senior Tara Halsted, who kept opponents in her wake during both the 200 free and the 100 backstroke.

Also doubling up on first-place honors was Kathleen Benjamin, who took the top spot in the 200 individual medley and the 100 breaststroke.

As a whole, however, the local girls lost some of their momentum as the evening went on. DHS couldn’t surpass Rio Americano in the 50 and 100 freestyle events, nor the 100 butterfly, allowing the visitors to pull within 57-55.

But the Devils recaptured a comfortable lead when the 400 free relay squad of Marissa and Alex Lafreniere, Emma Barksdale and Benjamin nearly passed their Raider opponents on the last lap after a neck-and-neck race.

Though the Blue Devils touched less than a second behind for a runner-up finish, their huffing and puffing after the event exemplified Stapleton’s aforementioned goal in the meet: for the DHS squad to exert themselves to their fullest extent.

“Some of our athletes did a good job of that,” Stapleton said, “but I don’t know if it was as across the board as we wanted. Still, it gave us a sense of where we’re going. It’s time to do a little soul searching and find out how competitive we, as athletes, want to be.”

— Reach Brett Johnson at bjohnson@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8052.

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