BY HENRY MILLER |
McALLEN — Jada Ashford felt confident going into her first year with the Los Fresnos girls swim team.
“I’ve been swimming since I was 2 and competitively since I was 5,” the 15-year-old Falcons’ up-and-coming star said. “Plus, I’ve been swimming with all of the swimmers down here since I was little. I knew I could do well.”
Even though she wasn’t thrilled with her times Saturday, Ashford still won the 50 freestyle, the 100 freestyle and anchored the winning 200 medley relay as Los Fresnos rolled with 521 points to capture the girls division of the McAllen ISD New Year’s Classic on Saturday at the McAllen Rowe Natatorium.
Mission High finished second with 354 points and McAllen High took third at 292.
Individual results for the meet were not made available Saturday. They will be published once they are provided.
Laredo Alexander and Laredo United boys finished first and second with 435.5 points and 336 points, respectively. McAllen High took third with 282 and Los Fresnos finished fourth with 234.
Ashford said she picked the 50 and 100 freestyles because they were fast and quick events.
“It’s just in and out,” she said. “Today, my 50 free was OK. I could’ve went harder but it’s after the holidays so now I’ve got to get back to work and get ready for district.”
Ashford leads all girl swimmers in the 50 free (24.37 seconds) and is second in the 100 free (53.83), behind only Sharyland High’s Gabriela Gonzalez (53.67). Ashford also has the best time in the 100 breast stroke (1:10.66) and the 200 freestyle (2:02.07).
“I gained some time and that’s always a bad thing,” Ashford said. “There’s no time to be wasting, you always have to be improving. My goal is to get back to my speed and drop times.”
The district meet is Jan. 24-25 at Rowe.
McAllen High head coach Juan Gutierrez described Saturday’s event was “all around a good day.”
“We still have some finishing touches to work together,” he said. “We still need to move some things around for the last minute to see if we can get some more kids into district and get some points so are putting some kids in events they are not used to.”
Nilton Dos Santos, who has a top five Valley time in six different events according to the RGV Coaches Swimmers Association, helped guide the Bulldogs to the best finish of Valley teams with third place. The junior finished first in both the 500 freestyle and 100 breaststroke. McHi’s boys finished 48.5 points ahead of the nearest Valley squad, Mission High. They will both compete, along with McAllen Memorial, McAllen Rowe, La Joya and La Joya Juarez-Lincoln for the district title.
“We don’t underestimate anybody,” said Gutierrez, in his second year coaching the Bulldogs. “People will tell me, ‘It looks like you have it,’ but I’ve said since the beginning, nothing is set in stone. There are kids who may not be out yet. There were teams here competing that are not in our district, so we could move up or down. This is a whole team effort.”
Also looking to claim district for both the boys and girls is the Mission High Eagles, whose head coach, David Colunga, in his eighth year at the Eagles’ helm, said he’s excited to watch his swimmers drop time.
Jaquelyn Seledon had a 10-second drop in the 500 freestyle Saturday, her second in the past two events, doing the same two weeks ago in Corpus Christi. Teammate Carleigh Castillo also came away with a 10-second faster time in the 500 at Corpus.
Hector De Leon and Gael Rodriguez, both freshmen, have worked themselves from the relay “B” team to the “A” team during the season.
“Those two have stepped up,” Colunga said. “We had some pretty good performance and those two have a whole lot of potential.”
Mission High’s Ramiro Borrego also had an impressive performance, knocking four seconds off his 100 breast stroke in Corpus and another three seconds on Saturday, finishing sixth. Mission’s girls finished second and boys fifth, only behind McHi within district competition.
“We knew we would have a pretty tight district race and right now we are trying to stay focused and follow through with the season,” Colunga said. “We will get a lot of information out of today and use the data to see where we can bring home another title.
“This is the most exciting part of the season for me. Seeing the newcomers — whether it’s a new school, new to the sport, new to the event — see those big drops and get out of the pool all ecstatic — that feeling is contagious within the entire team.”