While Oakdale High seniors were celebrating a trip to Disneyland on May 11, two underclassmen on the Mustang swim team had a party of their own in Lodi.
Oakdale freshman Soren Dickens sped to a sixth place finish in the finals of the 100 yard varsity breaststroke, and watched classmate Shelby Stender touch the wall for a 13th place finish among frosh-soph swimmers in the 100 freestyle. Both placements came in the second day of the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Championships at Tokay High on Friday.
Since Oakdale was without three seniors who elected to go on their senior trip, the team didn’t compete with any of their standout relay teams, but still brought six girls and five boys to compete against the top swimmers from the section. Dickens chose to compete at the varsity level despite the tradition of nearly all top underclassman swimmers fighting for medals in the frosh-soph race. He set a personal best and school record with a 59.66 time in the 100 breast to qualify for the top-8 finals, where he ended sixth with a 59.79 race. Dickens would have placed second in the frosh-soph finals with the time and also ended 26th in the 100 fly after a 49.41 time. He was the fastest freshman to swim the 100 breast anywhere in the meet.
“He’s just a great all around guy and athletically he has a ton of potential,” Oakdale coach Russ Van Cleave said. “He went for the challenging varsity race and still did his best time and got a school record.”
Stender swam her career best with a 57.08 to reach the 100 free consolation finals, where she swam 57.10 to settle for 13th. She was the fifth fastest freshman anywhere in the meet lineup. Oakdale had plenty of representation in the 100 varsity girls breast. Alissa Burford (17th) was just one placement of a finals finish with a 1:09.62 time. Summer Thompson was 22nd in the same race while Katie Vanderberg ended 25th among the 47 competing swimmers. Brandon Terwilliger was also 32nd among 67 swimmers in the varsity 100 fly. Will Cavanaugh ended 41st in the same race and landed an impressive 28th in the varsity 100 breast. Ryan Jones was 52nd among 64 in the varsity 100 back. Oakdale was without Adam Lahey and Hank Walter, but still managed a 27th place finish among all varsity boys programs in the section.