Sports

Gunn boys take down historic swim streak with CCS title

 

The foundation for the dream was built two years ago when assistant coach Kyle Accornero told Gunn head coach Mark Hernandez that he believed the Titans could win a Central Coast Section swim title.

"I thought he was crazy," Hernandez said. But, Gunn went to work and made that craziness a possibility. Last year, the Titans finished second.

The dream, however, became a reality on Saturday as the Gunn boys took down the biggest fish in the CCS pool with a stunning triumph over Bellarmine. The Titans scored 242 points while ending the Bells' historic streak of 31 straight section titles -- the longest championship streak of any sport in CCS history.

The impact of the feat was the Titanic hitting that iceberg.

Bellarmine was second with 231 points with Palo Alto finishing third with 200 at the George F. Haines International Swim Center in Santa Clara.

"They've been waiting two years for this," Hernandez said of his swimmers. "I've been waiting a lot longer."

Hernandez knew this could be the year, with his Titans returning 203 of the 214 points they scored last year. No other team was close.

"If we swim to the best of our abilities, and make our own luck, we have a real shot to be not necessarily the best team in the history of the section, but arguably the most important the one who took down the greatest dynasty in any sport in CCS," Hernandez said before the meet.

And afterwards?

"We took down the streak. No one wants to be on the team that loses the meet to end the streak. Bellarmine swims with so much pride and heart. We had to find a way to match that."

Gunn also had to find a way to overcome a possible 17-point swing after senior Trent Tosky was disqualified in the prelims of the 100 breast on Friday for an extra dolphin kick off the wall that both Hernandez and Tosky disputed to no avail.

"That was devastating," said Hernandez, who noted Tosky could have earned 15 points in the final. Instead, those points were gone and a Bellarmine swimmer moved up from the consolation race to the finals, a minimum two-point difference.

Despite the adversity and Bellarmine outscoring Gunn, 88-50, over the 200 free relay, 100 back and 100 breast, the Titans still held a three-point lead (202-199) heading into the final 400 free relay -- an event the Bells rarely lose.

The Titans either needed to beat the Bells head to to head or have another team win the race with the Bells second (34 points) and Gunn third (32 points).

Gunn took the first option: beat the Bells.

Hernandez talked to his swimmers before the final race and noticed how loose they were.

"They were confident," Hernandez said. "They knew they were going to win."

The Titans' team of Tosky (46.55), senior Daichi Matsuda (46.85), junior Michael Lincoln (45.97) and senior Joao Ama (45.07) swam the race of their lives while clocking a school record of 3:04.44, an automatic All-American time. Lincoln gave the team the lead on the third leg and Ama held on, despite cramping up over the final 50 yards.

The defending champion Bells wound up third in 3:05.05 as Palo Alto grabbed second place with a 3:04.46 (No. 2 in school history) with senior Daniel Sing, junior Ethan Bundy, senior Andrew Cho and junior Alex Liang (44.21) overtaking the Bells to give Gunn some breathing room in the final standings.

"That was pretty stirring," Hernandez said. "We will never see another moment like that one. Incredible."

The 400 free relay was Gunn's only victory of the meet and one of six school records that fell on the championship day -- the Titans set 14, including the prelims. Ama had a hand in four of them as he swam on the second-place 200 free relay (1:24.29) and finished third in both the 50 free (20.76) and 100 free (45.28). His school mark in the 100 (45.19) came in the prelims. Ama finished ahead of Bellarmine's top sprinter, Thomas Reed, in three races.

Lincoln added school marks in the 200 free (1:38.61 for fourth) and 500 free (4:28.22) in addition to legs on the free relays for Gunn.

Senior Daichi Matsuda set a school record of 50.17 on his opening backstroke leg of the 200 medley relay and set a school mark of 1:50.98 in the prelims of the 200 IM, finishing fourth in the finals. He also set a record of 49.14 in the prelims of the 100 fly, where he took third in the finals in 49.60.

"This is no accident," Hernandez said of the historic team victory. "We have elite swim clubs (like PASA) and coaches in the area."

Palo Alto also rewrote its record book as junior Alex Liang won the 200 free in 1:36.86 for one school mark. He also won the 500 free in 4:23.62, another automatic All-American time that ranks No. 2 in school history and among the fastest in section annals.

Palo Alto senior Reed Merritt won his first diving title on Friday with 593.65 points for his 11 dives.

Menlo-Atherton had a final day after setting a handful of records in the prelims and finish 13th with 52 points. Sacred Heart Prep was 22nd with 31.50.

All the top qualifiers will be heading to the CIF State Championships next weekend in Clovis. But, that's another day. Gunn would like to savor its championship moment awhile longer.

Comments

7 people like this
Posted by Gunn parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 15, 2016 at 10:21 am

So proud of them!! Congratulations!!!!


34 people like this
Posted by Danny Dye
a resident of Barron Park
on May 15, 2016 at 11:12 am

Congratulations to a fine group of young men, and determined coaches. No own many of you boys for quite a few years. As a coach in the district I am proud of how you represented your school and your community. Thank you for the historic win. You gentleman have grown into fine young men and we at Palo Alto high school are proud of you. Enjoy the moment you deserve it.


2 people like this
Posted by Gary
a resident of Mountain View
on May 15, 2016 at 1:31 pm

Wow. Way to go GUNN - and PALY.


10 people like this
Posted by Support Sports
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 15, 2016 at 6:25 pm

Great job to all of the dedication of players and coaches. We are so lucky to have teachers who are willing to put their energy to after school sports. I wish they could be compensated for the hundreds of hours that they spend.
GO GUNN and PALY. Time for a parade?


4 people like this
Posted by Lenn
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 15, 2016 at 7:08 pm

Way to go Gunn! Nice swims.

- Lenn Rosenberg (Gunn Swimming 1985)


1 person likes this
Posted by what a day!
a resident of Barron Park
on May 16, 2016 at 9:11 am

Congrats to Paly girls and Gunn boys for their championships!. The final boys relay was the most exciting race ever! Good luck to everyone at the State Championships this weekend.


7 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 16, 2016 at 12:30 pm

Not to detract from these historic wins and times, but we need to also tip our hats to the PASA swim club. Most if not all of the top Gunn and Paly swimmers train year-round with this outstanding program and coaches.


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