By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent
ALBUQUERQUE — The Clovis swim team got what it wanted in the Friday preliminary round at the state meet. Namely, that goal was to have a majority of its entrants still swimming on the final day.
Thanks to some solid performances in the pool, only one relay team (the 400-yard freestyle squad) failed to make it into either the final round or the consolation finals on Saturday.
The biggest news for the Wildcats was the advance of senior Alyssa Pyeatt into the finals of the 100-yard breaststroke.
It’s the first time in the four-year-old program that a Clovis swimmer will be in the finals of an event. And, ironically, a Hobbs swimmer may have played a bit of a role in helping it happen.
Just as Kannon Betzen of Hobbs was clipping along a torrid pace toward a state record, Pyeatt was in the same heat in the next lane. Pyeatt, with a time of 1:11.68, clipped her qualifying mark of 1:12.03 by a fraction of a second but, more importantly, got the sixth-best time of the day.
“It was very exciting, almost indescribable. I’m still shaking, I’m so excited,” Pyeatt said. “Just because (Kannon) is so fast, it was probably pushing me to try to keep up with her. I can remember, in the second lap, I could still see her.”
The top eight finishers in the preliminaries moved into the finals while those with the next eight fastest times gained berths in the consolation finals.
Clovis sophomore Amber Espinoza eked into the consolation finals by finishing 16th in the 100 butterfly.
The Clovis 200 freestyle relay came close to qualifying for the final eight when Yvette Fisher, Espinoza, Pyeatt and Vickie Erdmann finished 10th with a time of 1:52.42.
The 200 medley quartet of Laura Pyeatt, her older sister Alyssa, Espinoza and Erdmann also made the consolation finals by finishing 15th.
“We got into all the finals, except for the 400-free relay, so we really did good,” Erdmann said.
Only Alyssa Pyeatt in the 100 breaststroke and a relay team was good enough for the consolation finals last year.
“Clearly, that’s a big step for our program and for her (Pyeatt),” Clovis coach Vince DeMaio said. “It shows the progression we’ve made over the years. We’ve got four events we’re swimming on the second day — it’s great.”