Stingrays take sixth at state meet

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It has been about seven years since Diedra Vinson took the reins of the Stingray swim club.

When she did the club was small, noncompetitive and the number of swimmers was low.

Jonathan Miller/El Defensor Chieftain: The butterfly leg of the Boys 15-18 200-yard medley relay is taken by Stingray swimmer Alq Fuierer during Saturday’s state meet in Albuquerque. Socorro finished in sixth place overall.

The Sundance Championship Meet last Saturday in Albuquerque suggests that those days are far gone, and the days coming are looking pretty bright for the summer squad from Socorro.

The ‘Rays placed sixth out of 15 teams at the meet, and many of the teams that finished in front of them are year-round organizations. Socorro swims officially for eight weeks out of the year, and Vinson can only imagine the possibilities if some of her swimmers were privy to more time in the pool.

“I think we’re going to be moving up and up,” she said. “Now if we can get some of these kids to get some water time in the winter, who knows what’s going to happen?”

With 80 individual qualifiers and 20 relay qualifications at Saturday’s meet, what happened is that Socorro more than held their own against larger teams with more up-to-date facilities. It tallied up to 1,135.5 points in the 73 events it participated in, ending up just 24 points behind the fifth-place Jewish Community Center Orcas.

The day began well for the Stingrays as the 8-and-Under 100-yard medley relay team of Hezekiah Oxford, Joshua Walsh, Scott Bunning and Gregorio Romero finished in third place, and right after that the Girls 9-10 100-yard medley relay team of Miquilla Barela, Sophia Beams, Kayla Botko and Chloe McComas took second place. Barela also won third in the Girls 9-10 25-yard backstroke, sixth in the 25-yard freestyle and third in the 25-yard butterfly.

In the fifth event of the day, Aurelia Chavez, Olivia Beams, Danielle Moore and Paige Pyke finished fourth in the Girls 11-12 200-yard medley relay, while Benjamin Oxford, Kol Fuierer, Kendrick Simmons and Devan Webb took sixth place in the Boys version of the 11-12 200-yard medley relay.

Skyler Bunning finished sixth in the Boys 9-10 25-yard freestyle and fifth in the 50-yard free, Angelina Stanzione won sixth in the Womens 15-18 50-yard freestyle and Botko brought home third place in the Girls 9-10 100-yard individual medley. Botko Also finished fourth in the Girls 9-10 50-yard freestyle.

In the Girls 11-12 100-yard IM, Moore finished in fifth place and Marysa Ocampo claimed her own fifth-place ribbon in the girls-8-and-under 25-yard backstroke. Moore also took fourth in the Girls 11-12 50-yard breaststroke.

Tyler Crespin took seventh in the Boys 13-14 50-yard freestyle, John Woods placed fifth in the Mens 15-18 50-yard freestyle and Matthew Lucero won fourth place in both the Boys 13-14 100-yard breaststroke and 50-yard butterfly.

In the Women’s 15-18 100-yard breaststroke, Charli Gonzales finished in fourth place.

It was indeed a team effort for a relatively young club that should continue to improve as long as individual swimmers stay dedicated to the club. So far that hasn’t been much of an issue.

“Our program has matured, from the inception of it to where it is now,” Vinson said. “You can tell the kids that have consistently coming back year after year. It’s getting better and better.”

The showing at the state meet came just one week after many Stingrays swimmers competed in the New Mexico Games on July 15, where they finished second.

Aidan and Chloe McComas, Matthew Chavez, Lucero, Stanzione, Skyler and Scott Bunning, Botko, Dionne Vega, Walsh, Sophia and Olivia Beams, and Gonzales all finished in at least third place in their respective events, and some in at least third in more than one event.

In addition to flexing a little bit of team muscle in the past couple of weeks, many Stingrays have qualified for the State Games of America in 2013, a national competition that features athletes in dozens of sports who were among the best in their respective states. The event will be held in the Hershey, Pa., area, and so far Vinson has at least 27 kids eligible to compete.

“Talent get you so far, but hard work gets you to the top,” she said. “We’ve got some talent and they’re hard-working.”