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 Martin Gallegos


After a successful showing at the Coast Conference Championships in Cupertino, the Hawks are heading to state with a full army.

Eleven swimmers and divers are qualified for State Championships. A feat that left head coach Jason Craighead proud of his squad.

“We’re excited,” Craighead said. “We had more divers qualify for state than what was expected and we’re very confident heading into state.”

The six divers (Gabe Nieto, Donna Rotella, Kaitlin Hausmann, Alexa Beaudoin-Severn, Valentina Barbalinardo and Angelica Leporati) who qualified at the Nor Cal Diving Championships the previous week were joined by five more swimmers in the three-day event at DeAnza College.

Brett Melloch, Kedric Bender, McKenna Stevulak, Luke Shaffer and Austin Johnson all qualified with impressive performances at the meet.

Day one saw Melloch and Bender earn a second place finish in their individual meets for the men.

Shaffer and Johnson finished second and third in their respective events on day two.

Perhaps the most outstanding performance of the day came from the women’s side.

McKenna Stevulak, who is back in action after sitting the year out last season, scored a first place finish in the 50 yard free with a time of 24.86, almost a full second faster than the second place time.

“The layoff did not affect her (Stevulak) at all,” Craighead said. “She’s just gotten stronger both mentally and physically as the year goes on.”

Stevulak continued her dominance all through the weekend. In an impressive display of conditioning, she earned a first place finish all three days at the meet.

Craighead credits the team’s prior back-to-back meets as a big reason for their success. He believes those events helped the Hawks build their superb conditioning.

“Those back-to-back days really paid off for us,” Craighead said.

The Hawks’ dream of winning both the men and women’s championships, a goal they set out at the beginning of the season, is still alive. With 11 representatives and the largest dive team in the state, Craighead is feeling good about his team’s chances.

“The more swimmers we take to state, the better our chances get,” Craighead said.

State Championships take place at East Los Angeles College in Monterey Park April 30 through May 2. The event can be streamed live online beginning Thursday, April 30 at 9 a.m. on

Melloch, Shaffer and Stevulak are perhaps the main competitors to look out for. All three swimmers will be partaking in three separate events at the state meet.

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