ALBUQUERQUE — A bit of a subpar day wasn’t the kind of exclamation point Clovis High’s swimmers were looking for on Saturday. But the Lady Wildcats did achieve their highest finish ever in the girls team standings as the New Mexico state swimming and diving championships came to a close at Albuquerque Academy.
Clovis sophomore Jill Southard became the first swimmer from the school to compete in more than one finals race — reserved for the top eight finishers in the preliminary heats.
Southard ended up placing eighth in both the 200-yard freestyle as well as the 500 freestyle distance race later in the day.
The points earned from those events, along with more gained from a 12th-place finish in the 400 freestyle relay and a 14th-place in the 200 medley relay (Southard, Portia Gibbons, Martha Chace, Chelsey Carter in both cases), enabled Clovis to finish 16th overall.
Clovis’ previous best team result at state for the girls came last year when the Lady Cats were 19th.
For the boys, sophomore Nick de Maio placed 14th in the 200-freestyle while, in the same race, eighth-grade teammate Lucas Brock was 16th overall. De Maio later swam to a 13th-best position in the 100 backstroke.
In the relay events, Clovis had two boys squads make the consolation finals. The quartet of de Maio, Brock, Ryan Waters and Kenan Bussen was 14th in the 200 medley relay while, to close the day’s events, the same four swimmers finished 16th in the 400 freestyle relay.
The Clovis boys garnered 16 points for 20th in the team standings.
“Overall, we had a phenomenal run here in the last month,” Clovis coach Nick de Maio said. “We’ve taken immense times off. Jill, for instance, has gone from a 2:10 down to a 2:02 (in the 200 free).
“At some point, you kind of have to build a base again.”
The Clovis coach thought afterward that more training for two-day events, such as the state meet was, might benefit his team down the road.
“We’ve not had a single two-day meet this year, and that’s part of the uniqueness of state,” he said. “Next year, we’ll be working to build up our kids to compete two days in a row — at this level.”
Of the 20 swimmers Clovis took to Albuquerque for the weekend, only Brody Hawes is a senior.
“In a year, they’re probably still going to be building and working,” Hawes said. “But a few years down the line, this team is going to be amazing.”