Sports — 21 March 2014

Martin Gallegos

STAFF WRITER

With only three meets to go until conference cham- pionships, the LPC swim team is looking to gain some momentum with a strong finish to the season.

The women were crowned Coast Conference champi- ons in 2013.

This year, however, it looks like the men are looking to capture their own championship.

Led by sophomores Justin Stafford, who finished sec- ond overall in the Marin Invite in the 50 yard free and Chris Mowry, who also finished second in the 100 yard breast, the men stand a chance to repeat history and bring back-to-back championships to LPC.

The Marin Invite was the team’s most recent meet, which took place on March 8. The men are putting together a string of strong performances, reminiscent of the women’s late-season push last year.

Head Coach Jason Craighead is confident in his men’s squad and believes they have the potential to go far this season.

“Much like our women were last year, they’re definitely not a shoo-in,” Craighead said. “We believe we are one of the favorites, one of the three or four.”

Craighead looks at Stafford as one of the anchors for the men’s team, but he’s not the only good swimmer they have.

“Justin is one of our fastest swimmers, but we have a lot of depth,” Craighead said. “That’s what’s going to give us a shot. We also have a ton of talented freshmen.”

Mowry fell just short of qualifying for the state cham- pionships last season. With the type of season he has put together, Mowry is hoping that 2014 will be his lucky year.

“We just have to finish the year strong,” Mowry said. “If we put together strong performances, everything will fall into place.”

On the women’s side, the team has been competing without last year’s star McKenna Stevulak, who decided to redshirt for the 2013 season. Still, while the team has not been as impressive as last year, they have been able to hold their own.

“They’ve been doing well without her,” Craighead said. “McKenna is still around and every bit a part of the team. Even though she redshirted, her experience and leadership has rubbed off on the other swimmers.”

Sophomore Nichole Maria Cui has been on a roll. She has finished in the top two of a 50-yard event in the team’s last three meets. Could she possibly represent LPC at the state championships?

“That would be amazing,” Cui said. “It is a goal of mine that I would like to achieve.”

Craighead is hoping to send Cui along with a few of her teammates to state. He mentioned Stafford, the men’s four-man free relay squad and freshman diver Donna Rotella as potential state representatives for the school.

“You always want to send as many swimmers to state as you can,” Craighead said. “That makes it more fun.”

In order for Cui and the rest of LPC’s swimmers to reach their state goals and compete at the championships in East LA from May 1 to 3, they will need to impress down the stretch.

Two big meets that loom are the CCSF/Ohlone meet, which takes place on March 21, and the ARC Pentathlon at American River College on March 28.

Craighead is taking it one meet at a time. For the next meet, he is looking at it as a tune-up for the post-season.

“Our job in this meet as coaches is to find out what

Las Positas sophomore Shelby Schock competes at the Hawk Invite at the LPC Swim and Dive center on Feb. 21. LPC is gearing up for their run to win another Coast Conference Championship, but this time it looks like the men are in front.

other strengths the swimmers have,” Craighead said.

“A lot of times they’re good at events they didn’t know they were good at,” he added.

As for a possible conference championship, Craighead says that coaches often like to hide certain swimmers from certain events until the big meet. He is no different.

“I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve,” Craighead said.

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