You don’t need to go searching through egg cartons to find this dozen.
On Thursday and Friday, the 12 Oakdale High swimmers who qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section Trials (all divisions) will fight for top-eight honors and advancement to Saturday’s SJS Finals.
All postseason swims will be held at Tokay High in Lodi.
“We are looking to end the year on a high note and are looking to get our best times,” Oakdale coach Russ Van Cleave said. “At this point we are trying to get faster but a lot of what matters is between their ears. It’s as much mental as it is physical and we are just getting ready to swim fast.”
After a year that saw league championships from both squads, five Oakdale girls and seven Mustang boys reached the at-large qualifying times and will tackle 14 total events. Most will compete in the varsity division of the section championships. Swimming is the rare SJS sport where frosh-soph competitors win separate postseason medals with marks often on par with their varsity counterparts.
Only Ryan Jones (200 Individual Medley) and Will Cavanaugh (100 breast stroke) will compete in these frosh-soph races.
Hank Walter (100 back), Braden Lee (500 free) and Brandon Terwilliger will tackle the 200 medley relay, 200 free relay and 400 relay. They are joined by Casey Whitley (medley relay, 200 free relay) and Robert Winders (400 free relay).
Stevie Cordoza (100 back), Katie Vanderburg (100 fly) and Allison Poff will swim in all three relays for the Oakdale girls as well. Alissa Burford (100 breast, medley relay) and Kelsey Knollmueller (200 I.M., 200 free relay, 400 free relay) will also make the trip.
Vanderburg and Poff could have elected to swim in individual events among frosh-soph competitors, but chose to stay in the relay tandems that went undefeated throughout the Valley Oak League season this year.
All 12 of the SJS qualifiers are former Oakdale Gators youth swimmers, a credit to the local program that turns out top-quality swimmers and well-disciplined athletes year after year.
“It’s satisfying to know that what these kids learned in Gator practice has propelled them to this point where they are competing in the section playoffs for high school swim,” Van Cleave said. “We also had several Gator kids who didn’t make it to the section trials, but played big roles in our league championships.”