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Swim and dive to qualify for Coast Conference for 11th time since 2011 after the 11th annual Hawks Invitational

LIVERMORE—For swimming Hawks, 11 is a lucky number.

On March 30 and April 1, the Las Positas swim and dive team claimed first in ten of 46 competitions and five second-placings at the home-turf Hawk Invitational. Las Positas hosted over 15 teams from local community colleges. 

After the Las Positas Swim and Dive teams’ triumph at the home Hawks Invitational, they are on the way to qualify for the Coast Conference championship, for the eleventh year; discounting the 2020 and 2021 seasons canceled by COVID. This number calls back to when the program was founded in 2011, by swim coach and assistant athletic director Jason Craighead. 

The invitational, one of the few home events the team has in their season, began as an effort to start a swim program at LPC back in 2010. Las Positas had a 12-lane 75-foot by 108-foot competition pool with 3 diving boards and a 75-foot by 45-foot recreational pool, but no team used it. Craighead was then a professor for swim classes, and saw the need.

This year, the Hawks standout swimmers showed off at the invitational.

Zachary Zauhar-Kurr landed 1st in four competitive events including the 400-yard individual medleys. 400 individual medleys involves the swimmer to swim in the order of butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle. 

Zauhar-Kurr also took 2nd place in the 200-yard medley relay on LPC’s team A, including himself, Ryan Ridosko, Steve Ragatz and Ross Brown. A medley relay consists of teams of four and each swimmer swims in a different style. 

“I am a very competitive person and I love winning, so it feels good to come away with all 1st place finishes,” Zauhar-Kurr said.

Ashley Sand, a sophomore breaststroke swimmer at LPC, achieved first place in the 50-yard, 100-yard, and 200-yard breaststroke competitions at the Invitational. Sand said that those were some big accomplishments for her because she was up against some very tough competitors. 

“Twenty teams attended the Hawk Invite, bringing some of the best swimmers in the state. I was super excited to receive first place in 200-,100- and 50- yard breaststroke this weekend, especially because there were a lot of fast competitors,” Sand said.

Sand said the main goal for the invite was to achieve good times that qualify for state championships. There are only two meets left in the schedule before conference championships. In these crucial moments, support is important to Sand.

“Winning at a home meet is even more exciting because my family and friends can come out and watch,” Sand said.

“Swimming doesn’t have a lot of home contests, so it’s a chance for the parents to be here and see the kids swim. We usually set ourselves up as fast as we can here at this meet. We want to place well and also set up some really fast times,” Craighead said. 

The Hawk Invitational is an event that swim and dive head coach and assistant athletics director,  Jason Craighead, spearheaded in Spring 2010 with the intention of starting the swim program. According to Craighead, there was no swim and dive team until the following year in Spring 2011. 

Craighead got to work recruiting a lineup for LPC after finding out about the vacancy in teams. He visited high school practices and meets, along with speaking to local USA swimming club coaches. 

Even without a team to call Las Positas home, Craighead founded the event and showcased the potential of swim at LPC.

“I wanted to try to get some teams here so they know we had a swim program coming up and have an awesome facility,” Craighead said.

The weather cleared up in time for the Hawks Invite after this winter and early spring brought severe storm warnings, floods and landslides across California. Craighead encouraged his team to make the most of being at home and the weather. 

Up next, the Hawks have their eyes on the prize with the Coast Conference Championships in Fremont, April 20.

“We have some guys that were looking forward to qualifying for the state championships in diving and in swimming, and that’s a very rare feat to be able to be good at both because it takes a lot of commitment,” Craighead said. 

“My main focus is on the state championships and trying to perform well there and hopefully get some wins,” Zauhar-Kurr said.  The Hawks must perform well at the NorCal Diving Championships to qualify for the championships. The diving competitions will be held at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, California.

“We’re looking forward to the NorCal Diving because that’s the qualifier and it scores points for our conference championships for swimming,” Craighead said.

Outside of the canceled 2020 and 2021 seasons due to COVID, the Hawks have made conference championships every season under Craighead. 

The Hawks dominated at home but are determined to continue their conference championship streak for the 11th time in 11 seasons.

Gibran Beydoun is a freelance writer for the Express. Follow him @Gibran580MSCM.

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