CIF/Central Coast Section Swimming Championships: It’s A Fine Finish For Finlay

by Keith Peters

It’s too early for Terence O’Malley to start thinking about next year’s swim season at Menlo School. After all, there are too many good things for the Knights’ head coach to remember about this season. O’Malley’s best memories probably will come from this year’s Central Coast Section Championships at Independence High in San Jose, where the Menlo boys tied for fifth with St. Francis with 146 points and the girls finished seventh with 134.

The most memorable moment for O’Malley likely was the girls’ 100-yard backstroke finals, where Menlo senior Andi Finlay put her name in the record books in a number of ways.

Not only did Finlay win her fourth straight CCS title in the 100 back, but the University of California-bound standout broke her own meet record with a stunning clocking of 55.35. That broke her 55.66 time of last season and her 55.65 record time set in the preliminaries. The time also scared the National Independent School record of 55.05 set in 1995 by Margo Diamond of Peddie School.

“I trained hard, got a good start and did everything OK,” said Finlay, who earned automatic All-America recognition with her swim. While the time was a bonus, winning her fourth consecutive title was even better. “That was the No. 1 goal,” Finlay said happily. “Winning is always the best.”

“That’s incredible,” O’Malley said of Finlay’s fourth 100 back title. “It’s a great way to finish.”

While the 100 back was her only victory, Finlay came close in two other races. She clocked a personal best of 53.16 in finishing second in the 100 free and joined with teammates Rachel Saal, Sarah Umetsu and Erin Welsh to finish second in the 200 free relay in a school-record 1:39.42.

Umetsu had a remarkable day, considering she was in the hospital the week before the meet with a collapsed lung. The junior returned to practice May 6 and competed at the CCS trials May 8. In the finals, Umetsu finished fifth in the 200 IM in 2:04.46, fifth in the 100 back with a personal-best 59.50 and added a leg in the 400 free relay where Menlo won the consolation finals.

The Menlo boys had a strong showing, as well, thanks to a pair of runnerup swims by junior Matt Messmer.

Despite producing times that would have won his races in past years, Messmer had the unfortunate task of facing two of the fastest all-time CCS performers in his events.

In the 50 free, Messmer clocked a season-best 21.37. In his race, however, was defending CCS champion Leffie Crawford of Serra. Crawford, who lowered his meet record in the prelims with a sizzling 20.17 clocking–likely the fastest in the nation this season–came back to win the finals in 20.39.

In the 100 free, Messmer again produced a season best of 46.31, yet lost out to an automatic All-America time of 45.26 by Leland’s Matt Macedo. If it’s any consolation for Messmer, both Crawford and Macedo are seniors.

Messmer, who scored 34 points to finish sixth overall, also swam legs on Menlo’s 200 free relay that took fifth and the Knights’ 400 relay squad that finished third in a season-best 3:15.57.

Senior Lance Fenton was fifth in the 100 free (47.22) and swam on all three relays, joining Messmer, Jon Tsou and Matt Bjorner in the 200 free. The 400 squad was Messmer, Jared Grauer, Bjorner and Fenton.

Sophomore David Arscott added an eighth in the 100 breast (1:02.22) and a fifth in the consolation finals of the 200 IM (2:02.26).

Menlo-Atherton didn’t have individual finalists, but produced some solid relay times on the girls’ side.

“We swam our fastest relays of the season,” M-A coach Rick Longyear said. “And we had some other good (time) drops.”

The M-A girls’ 200 free relay team of Angela Hook, Kaitlyn Ramirez, Becky Boeddiker and Suzie White clocked a season-best 1:43.43 in finishing seventh. That same relay squad took eighth in the 400 free relay in 3:45.47.

Mitty captured its first-ever girls’ title with 238 points, edging early season favorite Palo Alto (229), which set nine school records and established two CCS marks. In the boys’ meet, Bellarmine captured its 14th straight crown with 339 points. Leland was second (264) and Palo Alto third (159). Serra was fourth with 147.

From Palo Alto Weekly

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