JC swimming: Relays propel Bear Cub men to state title

By ERIC WITTMERSHAUS
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Santa Rosa JC won its first ever men’s swimming and diving state title Saturday, with a dominating three-day performance at the CCCAA state meet in Monterey Park.

Paced by its strong relay teams and freshman diver Nico Suissa, the undefeated SRJC men finished 194 points ahead of second place Palomar. For comparison’s sake, women’s champion Orange Coast beat runner-up Diablo Valley by three points.

Of the three-day meet’s five relays, the Bear Cub men won four and had one fourth-place finish.

SRJC swim and dive coach Jill McCormick said success in the relays is all but required for winning a state title because a relay win awards double the points of an individual win.

“If you’re winning the relay battle, you usually win the meet,” McCormick said. “We knew they were super important, and we built our entire lineup around the relays.”

Friday’s 200-yard medley relay by Sean Malley, John Bing, Trent Williams and Nolan Stimple shattered a 14-year-old state record by 2.13 seconds. That race, with a time of 1:29.99, was named performance of the meet.

“There were national records set by other kids this weekend, and they gave that award to us,” said McCormick, who was named men’s coach of the year.

The men came into Saturday with a massive 155-point lead. The Bear Cubs’ point total after two days was better than Palomar’s three-day sum.

McCormick said the huge lead was liberating.

“People tend to swim very fast when they’re mentally relaxed,” she said. “We knew with the situation we were in that no one was going to catch us. We knew we could absorb a mistake.

“I just told them, ‘We’re making history today … You guys put your heart and soul out there the first two days … so go out there and leave your mark and enjoy every minute of it.’”

The relay teams weren’t the only ones turning in record-setting performances for the Bear Cubs. Freshman diver Suissa set a state record in the 1-meter diving on Friday. Suissa, who swept the men’s diving events, was named diver of the year.

Suissa’s coach, Nolan Irwin, was selected diving coach of the year in his first full season. Irwin stepped into the job last year after the sudden death of longtime coach Tim Nobriga, who had been planning to retire at the end of last season.

“We were kind of grooming Nolan to be the head coach last year, and he just kind of jumped in in the middle of all that,” she said.
“Nolan has been (Nobriga’s) protege. … He’s a young coach, but he’s phenomenal. This year was proof of that.”

For the women, freshman Alexandria Holland, who starred at Maria Carrillo, won three events and was named women’s co-swimmer of the year. She set a school record in the 200-yard individual medley Friday.

Eric Wittmershaus is The Press Democrat's online sports editor. You can reach him at 521-5433 or eric.wittmershaus@
pressdemocrat.com.