In the 11 years that Las Positas College has had a swim and dive program, they have made it to state championships every single year, save for the 2020 and 2021 seasons which were canceled due to covid. The program has been so successful that it held a five-year consecutive run for winning conference championships, from 2015-2019. A consistent and large contributing factor to LPC’s continued swim and dive success is none other than coach Loren Pearson.
Although technically an assistant coach, Pearson was recognized as CCCAA Coach of the Year for both men and women’s swim and dive, voted on by other head coaches in her conference. This marks the first time in state history that an assistant coach has been awarded this prestigious title for any sport.
The Hawks began their season by hosting a swim invite on April 1-2, where the team of mostly freshmen gained some valuable experience. “Everyone had a best time or multiple best times, throughout the two-day event; season best and/or lifetime best,” said head coach Jason Craighead.
During the Hawk Invite, Ashley Sand set a team record in the women’s 200-yard breaststroke with a final time of 2:31.57. At the time, she ranked third in the state for the 200 breaststroke, second for the 100 breaststroke and fourth in the 200 individual medley. Sam Dorn was also ranked eighth in the state for the 500-yard freestyle and competed in her second-ever 1650 freestyle, while posting the second fastest time in the state.
Ross Brown also set some personal records by achieving a few top-15 swims in the state, including the 500 freestyle (sixth), 200 freestyle (11th), 400 intermedley (15th) and 200 backstroke (12th).
The following weekend was spent in Sacramento at the American River Pentathlon, where Franco Moufarrej became the third-ever Hawk in program history to win the sprint pentathlon. He went undefeated and got progressively faster, winning the last shootout with a time of 21.36.
On the women’s side, Sand won the overall high-point total. She swam in all five events (fly, back, breast, free and the individual medley) and became the second-ever Hawk to win the pentathlon crown, capping off one of the many successful weekends this season.
The Hawks dove head first into the NorCal Diving Championship meet on April 16 in Stockton, which served as a regional qualifier for the State Championships and for scoring in the Coast Conference Championships. LPC would see two of its men qualify for diving at the State Championships, despite having just learned how to dive at the Hawk Invite earlier in the month.
“I am proud to say we have some great athletes who not only took to a difficult sport, but did so in a very short time and very successfully. We have some real gamers,” said Craighead. Two of the gamers he’s referring to would be freshmen Ryan Clark and Cade Venables.
Clark placed 11th in NorCal and second in conference for the men’s one meter dive, while also placing sixth in NorCal and first in conference for the men’s three meter dive (state qualifier). Venables tied for ninth in NorCal and placed first in conference for the men’s one meter dive (state qualifier) and placed eighth in NorCal and second in conference for the men’s three meter dive (state qualifier).
Monica Ureno also did some impressive diving for the women. She placed 17th in NorCal but fourth in conference for the women’s one meter dive and placed 13th in NorCal and third in the conference for the women’s three meter dive.
The Lady Hawks continued to see more success on day one of the Coast Conference Championships, which was hosted by LPC Thursday, April 21-23. The women’s 400-yard medley relay team won the conference championship with a time of 4:21.98. That relay team consisted of Sarah Thompson (butterfly), Gabrielle Benavidez (freestyle), Dorn (backstroke) and Sand (breaststroke).
The Hawks were 0.88 seconds behind first place West Valley in the 200-yard freestyle relay with a time of 1:43.46. Dorn, Thompson and Benavidez finished second, third and fourth respectively in the women’s 500-yard freestyle finals. Sand also shaved off over three seconds on her 200-yard intermedley time for a personal record of 2:17.96, good enough to earn third place.
The men’s side saw four of its swimmers finish in the top five for the 500-yard freestyle finals — Brown won first place (4:50.59), Kyle Young finished second (5:05.46), Venables was fourth (5:27.95) and Sean Mendez finished in fifth (5:28.37). Moufarrej also won the Coast Conference title in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 21:27. Zachary Perry finished in third for the 200-yard intermedley with a time of 2:00.23. The Hawks were second in both the men’s 400-yard medley relay (3:38.26) and the 200-yard freestyle relay (1:27.41).
Day two of the Coast Conference Championships saw Sand win the conference title for the women’s 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:07.60. This marked the second time this season that she’s set a team-record. LPC had three swimmers place in the top five of the women’s 200-yard freestyle finals. Benavidez swam a time of 2:04.42 (third), Cox followed with a time of 2:04.45 (fourth) and Dorn finished with a time of 2:05.61 (fifth).
For the men, Brown (4:23.13) and Perry (4:25.53) would finish in first and second place again in the 400-yard intermedley. Young would earn his first victory in the 200-yard freestyle and by a two second lead, with a time of 1:50.60. The Hawks’ men also won the 800-yard freestyle relay title in stunning fashion, finishing with a time of 7:17.58. The team consisted of Brown, Perry, Young, and Moufarrej. Moufarrej also placed second in Friday’s 100-yard breaststroke finals with a time of 58.89.
On the final day of the Coast Conference Championships, the Hawks had achieved many personal accomplishments but would end up finishing in second place in the men’s and women’s team overall standings. For instance, Sand finished in second place for the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:28.00, shattering the previous program record by 0:03.50, which she set herself at the Hawk Invite. She also set a new program record for the 100-yard breaststroke with a winning time of 1:07.60.
Dorn also won a conference title for LPC in the women’s 1,650-yard freestyle race.
Meanwhile for the men, Brown won some individual titles, including the 400-yard individual medley (4:23.13) and the 500-yard freestyle (4:50.59). He also finished second in the 200-yard backstroke with a time of 1:59.76 and participated in the victorious 800-yard freestyle relay title for LPC, with teammates Perry, Moufarrej and Young.
Young earned individual titles himself for his efforts in the 200-yard freestyle (1:50.60) and the 1,650-yard freestyle (17:38.11). Moufarrej won the 50 freestyle title with a time of 21.27 and finished second in both the 100-yard freestyle (47.08) and 100-yard breaststroke (58.89).
The Hawks closed out the Coast Conference Championship weekend with a final of 692 points for the men and 569 points for the women. They would finish in second place behind West Valley, which had a larger team than LPC and allowed them to score more points. LPC had a little less than two weeks before their next and final meet, the CCCAA State Championships held at East Los Angeles College in Monterey Park, May 5-7.
There, they would have an impressive pair of top-five finishes at the CCCAA State Swimming and Diving Championships this past week at East Los Angeles College.
Sand finished third in the women’s 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:29.06 and was also fifth in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:08.19.
Taylour Sparkman is a copy-editor for The Express. Follow him @T_SPARKMAN_330.