If Davis High’s boys had only taken a dive or two last week, they might be dancing around the barbecue this afternoon with their 10th Sac-Joaquin Section swimming pennant.
But the courageous Blue Devils lost by the slimmest of margins, 239.5-235, to Jesuit on Saturday — the third time in my memory in which the locals have been nudged out of a pool party by 10 or fewer points.
About that taking a dive thing …
In CIF, a school’s diving accomplishments are added to the swim team’s final numbers. It doesn’t take much to make up five points and a solid program can pull in some mighty scores from those lofty heights.
But Davis diving (What? You didn’t know we had a diving team?) has been the antithesis of our swimming squads.
Nobody’s fault. The interest isn’t there even though, periodically, the Devils find a diving coach and give it a shot.
This year, Lauren Abernethy, who has been an off-again, on-again selection to head the invisible team, talked with me about the future of the sport at DHS.
“This year we had two girls, one boy,” the former Brigham Young University diver told me. “But nothing worked out.”
Abernethy says these kids had little (or no) diving background. But there’s hope.
“We’re working on getting the awareness going,” Abernethy explained, adding that she’s been in touch with the cheer coach Danielle Eckert: “The cheerleaders have the moves that could (translate to the sport).”
Abernethy, however, believes the springboard for Blue Devil success above the pool will come through the Capital Diving Club, which she helps coach at UC Davis.
Young divers, she says, are learning the sport and “we have a couple of promising fifth- and sixth-grade Davis divers coming up.”
So while help is on the way, it doesn’t look like anytime soon — unless the Pep Squad thinks jumping into water is a better bet than falling into the arms of two awaiting colleagues.
Abernethy and DHS athletic director Dennis Foster are serious about having diving contribute to our Devils’ in-pool competition.
Knowing that it might be awhile before that help comes, maybe just cutting the ties between swimming and diving would be a better plan (to be fair, this year Jesuit had no diving points either, according to Abernethy).
Diving helping swimming … Maybe we should add tennis wins to the badminton record.
DHS coach Tracy Stapleton would never be one to make excuses. He’s proud of his kids’ performance Saturday in Lodi. DHS won the girls championship, the guys were this close to another crown …
But swimming without water polo All-American and U17 national team participant (and coach’s son) Connor Stapleton was a big local loss.
The senior standout, headed for Stanford in the fall, injured his knee in a swim meet last month and recently had surgery.
Rehab is coming along, according to Dad, but neither Stapleton had expected this ending to a storied four years at Davis High.
Owen Yancher had some Olympic-level karma going for him in the frosh-soph division of the SJS swim trials and finals.
Yancher swam brilliantly for fourth place in that level’s 500 freestyle on Saturday. Covering the grueling distance in 4:58.63, Yancher was wearing the suit that former UCD swimmer Scott Weltz wore at the U.S. Olympic Trials last summer in Omaha, Neb.
The distance dandy says DHS assistant coach Matt Crawford (a friend and former Aggie teammate of Weltz) received a bunch of used suits from the Olympian, and those suits found their way to various Blue Devil competitors.
Lucky Yancher just happened to get the suit that sent our local hero to London.
“I almost didn’t get to wear it,” the Harper ninth-grader told me. “It has two logos on it … official Bill Rose said the suit was illegal. You can’t have two logos on a (high school) suit.”
Yancher consulted with coaches, then got busy with his Magic Marker.
The USA logo was the easiest to black out, but “you can still see it if you look hard.”
It passed muster with Rose and the suit went on to help Yancher provide a hint of what his future holds.
Maybe someday Owen will be passing down his big-meet suits.
— Bruce Gallaudet is a staff writer for The Davis Enterprise. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8047.