Aqua-Cats Host the 38th Cuesta/Finis Invitational
SAN LUIS OBISPO (March 10, 2016)— The Cuesta men’s and women’s swim and dive teams are finally back in their own pool, after spending a month seeking free water to train, and have been powering out the yardage to build their level of fitness. The Cougars have sent only partial teams to their first two meets, but the full complement of Cuesta’s mer-people will be in the water this week for a pair of home meets.
The Cuesta Men’s and Women’s Swim and Dive teams host the 38th Cuesta/Finis Swim & Dive Invitational this Friday and Saturday (All Day), but will also host a warm-up spring meet with the early arrivals on Thursday (2:30)
WOMEN- The women lost three-fourths of their three school record freestyle relays and the two-month loss of the Cuesta Pool devastated the team's roster and set the stalwarts back on their conditioning and training. The Cougars are coming back from the program’s first Top 10 CCCAA State Championship finish 2003, under founding Coach Terry Bowen. Current Coach John Marsh says, “This has been a brutal season. Without the pool we lost swimmers and divers and had a late start. We have a small, but good, group and they are training hard.”
Sprints- 2015 All American Ande Miller (Paso Robles: Templeton HS) and her sister Megan Miller (Templeton HS), who are the daughters of Cuesta Baseball Coach Bob Miller, are projected as the Cougars’ top scorers. Ande set Cuesta’s 200-breaststroke (2:41.18) record and earned All American honors on five relays, including Cuesta record marks in the 200-free relay (1:40.07), 400-free relay (3:41.22) and 800-free relay (8:02.22). She is the only sophomore on the team and her experience and versatility will be a major factor in keeping the team focused. Megan joined her sister on the Cuesta Water Polo team in the fall, so despite Cuesta Pool being shutdown for more than three months, they both should be able to get back to speed quickly. Megan was the 2015 Los Padres League 50-Free Champion and will lead the Cougars in short distance freestyle races, while Ande will handle the 200 and 500-free. Coach John Marsh says of Megan, “She could be really, really good.” The Cougars will also use three other former Templeton High swimmers in the sprints and freestyle relays. Coach Marsh says of Laura White (Cambria: Templeton HS), “She may be the best of the Templeton girls and will anchor the medley relays.” All Conference Water Polo Player Daci Hughes (Bountiful HS, UT) and Jordyn Dickens (Arroyo Grande HS) will also swim the freestyle events. Freshman Selene Blanco (Firebaugh HS) will add depth.
Distance- All American Ande Miller (Paso Robles: Templeton HS) ranks 8th All Time at Cuesta in the 500-freestyle (5:26.51) and put in a tremendous amount of yardage in the fall during water polo. She is poised for another All American season. Coach Marsh says, “She will swim everything.” Freshmen Teegan Trimble (Templeton HS) and Taylor Mariucci (Templeton HS), the daughter of Cuesta Athletic Director Bob Mariucci, both ran cross-country for Cuesta and qualified for the 2015 CCCAA State Cross Country Championships. Marsh expects them to handle the mid-distance and long distance events. Mariucci’s sister, Haylee Mariucci, is currently swimming at the University of Hawaii and was the anchor on all five of Cuesta’s record relays.
Butterfly- All American Ande Miller (Paso Robles: Templeton HS) is penciled in to swim the butterfly leg of the Cougars’ medley relays, but it is her fourth best stroke. Former Youth All American Katie Goldblatt (Chico HS) and Newcomer Katie Lawler (Hemet) both have good stroke mechanics and may free up Miller for other spots. Goldblatt is coming off a strong water polo season, but spent the end of her high school career recovering from serious injury and is still returning to form.
Backstroke- Former LPL Champion Megan Miller (Templeton HS) and her high school teammates Laura White (Templeton HS) and Taylor Mariucci (Templeton HS) will handle the backstroke events. Marsh says of Miller, “She has a chance at the 200-Back record (2:11.48)”, set last spring by All American Molly Casey (Cal Poly). He expects her to swim the backstroke leg on the Cougars’ medley relays. Freshmen Katie Goldblatt (Chico HS) and Selene Blanco (Firebaugh HS) will also swim in the backstroke events.
Breaststroke- All American Ande Miller (Paso Robles: Templeton HS) set Cuesta’s 200-Breaststroke (2:41.18) record, but water polo teammate Daci Hughes (Bountiful HS, UT) should give her the freedom to compete in other events. Hughes will swim the breaststroke leg in the medley relays.
Individual Medley- All American Ande Miller (Paso Robles: Templeton HS), Freshmen Jordyn Dickens (Arroyo Grande HS) and, Katie Goldblatt (Chico HS) are all versatile talented swimmers and can fill in anywhere in the pool. They will lead the individual medley events and fill in at any of the specialty or freestyle events.
Diving- The Cougars lost all of their divers to the late start and lack of diving boards, but former Water Polo player Megan Miller (Templeton HS) is a good enough athlete to step on the board and score points if needed. However, she will be more effective swimming in the water than diving into it.
MEN- The men strung together three straight Top 10 finishes at the CCCAA State Championships, but slipped to 31st place in 2015. The late start will hamper their plan to bounce back and they will struggle to return to the Top 10. Coach Marsh says, “Its only our second week back in the pool. We are not fast, but we are out of shape.” The men are all new and do not return any swimmers from 2015. The Cougars will patch together a team of five water polo players, mostly freestyler sprinters, and four versatile and talented distance swimmers.
Sprints- All American Water Polo Player Johnny Hartshorne (Irvine) and all-Conference teammates Christian Emerson (Roseville) and Logan Smith (Albany, OR) will handle the sprints, along with teammate Mick Ringgold (Fresno) and newcomer Andrew Navarro (Atwater). Marsh says of Hartshorne, “He is a legitimate swimmer, but is coming off an injury.” He will join Emerson, Smith and Ringgold on all the freestyle relays, although former CIF Finalist Matthew McDonnal (San Jose), if he has an open event, may slide into one of the legs. Navarro is a pure sprinter, but joined the team when the pool opened in late February. If he can get in shape quickly, he may contribute late in the season.
Distance- Former CIF Finalist Matthew McDonnal (San Jose) joins Freshman Brendan McKeen (Truckee HS) and all-Conference Water Poloist Liam Barry (Aptos) in the distance events. Marsh says of McDonnal, “He is a good miler. He swam club all winter and is in good shape.” He is also pleased with McKeen and says, “He is getting better everyday!”
Butterfly- Versatile and talented Freshman Matthew McDonnal (San Jose) and former all-Los Padres League performer Mac Reinhart (Los Osos: Morro Bay HS) will showcase their talent in their off stroke. The Cougars do not have a true flier, so they will count on the versatility of McDonnal and Reinhart in this event. McDonnal will swim the butterfly leg in the medley relays.
Backstroke- The trio of All American Poloist Johnny Hartshorne (Irvine), former all-LPL pick Mac Reinhart (Los Osos: Morro Bay HS) and Freshman Brendan McKeen (Truckee HS) make backstroke the Cougars’ strongest and deepest stroke event. Reinhart will swim the backstroke leg in the medley relays.
Breaststroke- All-Conference Polist Logan Smith (Albany, OR) is the Cougars' only pure breaststroker and will swim the breaststroke leg in the medley relays. He will get some help from IM’ers Matthew McDonnal (San Jose) and Mac Reinhart (Los Osos: Morro Bay HS).
Individual Medley- The versatility of Matthew McDonnal (San Jose) and Mac Reinhart (Los Osos: Morro Bay HS) will be the key to the Cougars’ success this season. Their ability to score in multiple strokes and the relays will allow the Cougars’ team of a nine swimmers to challenge for a Western State Conference title.