By Joe Naiman
Ramona High School junior Gina Lucas became the Bulldogs’ first girls swimmer since 1993 to win an individual event at the CIF meet May 19 when she took first place in the 200-yard individual medley.
Lucas’ time in the Del Norte High School pool was 2:07.07. Sara Lenhoff of Santana was second at 2:07.94, and Alli Davis of Valhalla had the third-place time of 2:08.07.
“It was really exciting to watch her race,” said Coach Jolyn Yanez. “She was really strong through all four strokes.”
Ramona’s last girls swim individual event winner at the CIF finals was Katie Nye, who won the 100-yard breaststroke in 1993. The Bulldog girls last won a CIF meet relay event in 2010 when they took first in the 200-yard freestyle relay.
Lucas’ time of 2:07.40 in the individual medley preliminaries May 17 at Del Norte also placed first while making her the target for competitors in the finals.
“She was up to the challenge for sure,” Yanez said.
Lucas, Lenhoff, and Davis all swim for Heartland during the club season. Yanez is a coach for Heartland. “That was really exciting to have three of the top six all from the same club,” Yanez said.
Lucas finished third in the 100-yard backstroke finals but broke her school record for the fourth time this year. Her April 17 time of 59.43 seconds erased her April 2011 school record of 1:01.07.
Although she finished second in the league meet to Georgia Reilly of Mt. Carmel, Lucas lowered her school record to 59.08 seconds. She had a time of 58.49 seconds in her CIF preliminaries heat, second in the preliminaries only to Lenhoff’s 57.94-second performance. Lenhoff won the finals in 56.14 seconds, Reilly spent 56.45 seconds racing, and Lucas’ time of 57.39 seconds beat her preliminaries time and school record by more than a second.
“She did a really great job,” Yanez said. “She really pulled through and had an excellent strong performance.”
The swimmers or relay teams in each event with the six fastest times in the preliminaries advanced to the championship race two days later while those with the next six fastest performances earned lanes in the consolation finals.
Ramona also reached the championship finals in the 400-yard freestyle relay and finished fifth after Paulina Bernd, Ashlee Holabird, Rachel Hogervorst, and Lucas posted a time of 3:51.21. Ramona had placed sixth in the preliminaries, when Hogervorst led off the race but was fighting a cold. The illness also relegated Hogervorst to a 23rd-place time of 59.16 seconds in the 100-yard freestyle preliminaries.
Freshman Danielle LaRosa placed 12th in the preliminaries in both of her individual events with times of 1:03.44 in the 100-yard butterfly and 5:38.57 in the 500-yard freestyle. Although she was also 12th after the finals of both events, she posted best times in both with performances of 1:02.86 in the butterfly and 5:34.95 in the 500-yard freestyle race.
“I was actually thrilled with both of Danielle’s performances,” Yanez said. “She held her own.”