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Martin Gallegos


Records were broken like they were going out of style.

The Hawks traveled to East Los Angeles College for the CCCAA State Swimming and Diving Championships, the biggest meet of the season.

When it was all said and done the Hawks managed to break seven team records. Five from the women’s side and two from the men’s side.

The women and men finished 13th and 15th, respectively, out of 36 schools represented. Head Coach Jason Craighead says it was an impressive feat.

“We’ve qualified for state each year we’ve been in existence,” Craighead said. “This was our best showing ever at state.”

Sophomore McKenna Stevulak was one of the stars from the three-day event. She managed to break three school records, including the school record in the 200 backstroke with a time of 2:04.99, good enough for third place overall.

In addition to the records, she scored a top three finish in four different events.

“She was one of the highlights of the weekend,” Craighead said.

Stevulak was not the only swimmer with a meet to remember. Valentina Barbalinardo finished second overall in the three-meter dive event with a score of 215.55 while her teammate Donna Rotella placed fourth with a score of 205.45.

On the men’s side, Luke Shaffer broke a school record in the 400 individual medley with a time of 4:21.07, while Gabe Nieto eclipsed the 1-meter dive record with a score of 220.10. Both men broke records that were actually set by themselves in previous meets.

Kedric Bender was a part of the men’s 200 and 400-medley relay squad. Aside from the actual meet, he enjoyed the camaraderie amongst the team over the three days spent in southern California.

“I had a great time in LA,” Bender said. “We made some great memories to remember.”

As for the competition, Bender says the team was instilled with a great work ethic from the start of the season. He feels the team was able to accomplish the goals that were set out by coach Craighead.

“We all exceeded the expectations set by our coaches,” Bender said. “Natural skill gets you far but hard work takes you farther.”

As a cherry on top for the Hawks, dive coach Monte Young was named 2015 Women’s Dive Coach of the Year. Young was able to help five divers get to state, the most by any team and gender.

With LPC set to host the 2016 state championships, the Hawks certainly built some momentum as they head into the offseason.

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