Sat, Feb

Clippers win Verde Valley invite


Justine Taylor, 14, readies herself on the blocks for a 50-yard butterfly event during the Verde Valley Invitational at the Cottonwood Community Pool on Saturday, July 30.Thirty years of competition has taken place in the pool for Northern Arizona swim teams at the Verde Valley Invitational, but there hasn’t been a team that dominated like the Clippers did this past weekend.

For the Cottonwood Swim Team, second-year Head Coach Erin Estes and her group of swimmers blew all attending teams out of the water like the last scene of “Jaws.”

The boys were most impressive for Cottonwood on Friday and Saturday, July 29 and 30, at the Cottonwood Community Pool, taking first overall with 1,019.50 points.

That total nearly doubles the score of second-place finisher Bullhead City Swim Team, which finished with 544 points.

The Sedona Swim Team finished third with 505 points while the Needles Swim Team took fourth with 490 points. The Prescott Valley Swim Team wrapped up the top five with 349 points.

For the girls, the Clippers were just as dominant, scoring 1,247 points for first place while Bullhead City took second with 672.

Sedona was third with 643, Needles was fourth with 381 and the Payson Swim Team was fifth with 351 points.

Altogether, the Clippers recorded 20 first-place finishes and had 56 medals combined, an impressive feat.

“They all looked good. We had a lot of swimmers in the pool over the weekend so it was impressive,” second-year Cottonwood Head Coach Erin Estes said.

Top performances for the Clippers include 8-year-old Cassidy Gallegos, who finished first overall in the 50-yard freestyle event with a 50.52 time.

Gunner Tillemans, 10, won the 50-yard freestyle with a 32.82 time while 14-year-old Anthony Wokasch took first with a 200-yard freestyle time of 2:18.20. Wokasch was first in the 1,650-yard freestyle event as well with a 21:58.33 time.

Tillemans also took first in the 100-yard individual medley with a 1:30.37 time and was first in the 25-yard butterfly event with a 18.83 time.

Other top performances include 8-year-old Bella Lockhart, who took first in the 25-yard backstroke event with a 24.07 time, while 10-year-old teammate Rylie Burke was first in the same event with a 20.49 time.

In the 50-yard backstroke event, 12-year-old Isaiah Wright was first overall with a 36.89 time while 17-year-old Kyla Furey was first in the same event with a 32.30 time.

Dylan Russett, 8, was first in the 25-yard butterfly with a 32.07 time and 14-year-old Francesca Settann was first in the 100-yard freestyle with a 1:06.75 time.

Former Mingus Union High School standout Sarah Raber, 19, was first in the 50-yard breaststroke event with a 34.91 time.

As for the relays, the Clippers won the 100-yard medley relay with a 1:24.16 time. Burke, Tillemans, 9-year-old Emma Warner and 10-year-old Fletch Fangman were on the team.

Wokasch and Settanni teamed with 14-year-old Justine Taylor and 13-year-old Sean Williams to take first in the 200-yard medley relay with a 2:21.30 time.

Shannon Knowles, 16, Ryan Adams, 16, Mikiel Block, 17, and 17-year-old Colin Mount were first in the 200-yard medley relay as well in their age group with a 1:58.72 time.

The Verde Valley Invitational is the last Clippers meet of the summer, but for many of the older swimmers, the Marauders’ swimming season begins next week.