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Chaparral girls relay team validates coach’s prediction

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Chaparral swimming coach Wendy Holsclaw felt strongly about the possibility of sending a girls relay team to state.

Her team – consisting of Christina Abusada, Gabby Hernandez, Mara Moya, and Lana Simmonds – performed strongly throughout the season, putting themselves into a position to make the feeling a reality.

A mistake, however, in the 200 free relay at the 3A Southern Regional finals caused some doubts – considering that the event was her team’s best shot.

“We had a better chance in the 200 free relay than the 400 free relay. We were more seconds behind in the 400 that it was almost impossible in my mind,” Holsclaw said. “After they misesd the 200 free, where everyone thought they were going to make it, I told them, ‘It’s time to shock the world.’”

And they did.

The girls bounced back, dropping their time by 12 seconds to finish fifth and advance to the state championships in the 400 freestyle relay.

“They did not give up,” said Holsclaw, who was recognized as the 3A Southern Region’s Boys Coach of the Year. “They can’t do any worse than eighth place in the state of Nevada.”

The trip marks just the first time since 2006 that Chaparral will send girls relay team to the state meet. The four girls will join the four members of the boys swim team for the 3A state championships at Carson City Aquatic Center in Carson City, Nev.

The meet is scheduled to begin Saturday.

“We pushed ourselves all year,” said Hernandez, who swam the anchor leg of the race. “I heard (my teammates) screaming. I didn’t think we made it, but when I finished, they told me, ‘We’re going to state.’ … I was shocked.”

Hernandez admitted that the team felt a bit of pressure racing in the 200 freestyle relay. It was the race they expected to qualify for state.

But once Hernandez was out touched by less than half a second in 200, the disappointment resulted in a release of nerves, pressure and expectation.

“We didn’t pay attention to anything else (before the 400),” Hernandez said. “It was mostly about (our) personal goals. We weren’t expecting to go to state (in the 400), and it was more try and drop time for yourself.”

Surely, the team simply swam. Hernandez set a personal best, and the team posted a 4:52.40.

While dropping 12 seconds in the one of the most important meets of the year is an accomplishment to be satisfied with, Holsclaw’s proudest moment occurred when she saw her team rally after a disappointing showing earlier in the night.

“A few select kids are going to bounce over those walls (of disappointment),” said Holsclaw, who also thanked the parents for helping push the girls to achieving this goal. “I’m blessed to have worked with kids like that. I”m a lucky woman.”

Mirjanian leads boys into state

On the boys side, the Cowboys advanced four swimmers – Adam Mirjanian, Jesus Ruiz, Daniel Alvarez and Victor Varela – to the state meet and finished fourth at the 3A Southern Regional meet.

“The best part was that all four of them got to go,” swimming coach Megan Stanley said.

Mirjanian qualified for state for the third year in a row, advancing to the meet in four events: 100 breaststroke, 200 individual medley, and as a member of the 200 and 400 freestyle relay. Ruiz, Alvarez, and Varela will also join Mirjanian on the relay teams.

Ruiz also qualified for state in the 100 breaststroke and 100 butterfly, while Alvarez qualified for the 100 butterfly and 200 freestyle.

“I remember last year, I was telling Adam, ‘I’m going to be up there,’” Ruiz said. “He was like, ‘All right, do it.’

“We all want to be with each other. We all said there would no one else we rather be with up there.”

Student Jillian Gelabert contributed to this report.