For all but one Warrior swimmer, the 2018 season came to a close on Saturday, May 12, with the CIF Division II Valley Championships held at Bakersfield College.

It was a season that saw historic success, both individually and collectively, for a team that in recent years has become the most dominant THS varsity athletic program. Every swimmer contributed, from graduating seniors to first-year freshmen, and all of them can be proud of their performances. Their collective efforts led to a season that saw the Warriors swim teams go undefeated in league competition.

League dominance

The penultimate chapter of the season was written on Saturday, May 5, at the Varsity League Championships. The Warriors owned the South Yosemite League, winning the boys and girls divisions for the fourth year in row. It was a truly commanding performance; the girls and boys each had first place finishes in all but one event.

The girls earned 611 points, the most of any team in any league in the county, while the boys earned 515. Head coach Leanna Delgadillo attributed hard work to the Warriors’ success.

“They really push each other. The girls, the boys, it doesn’t matter who. They work really hard together to get better,” Delgadillo said. In her words, the league victories were “Very much a team effort.”

Standout performances were the norm for the Warriors at the league championships. Gold medal performances included:

Girls team

200 yard medley relay team (Molly Miller Rijfkogel, Jessica Riggs, Annika Ostrem, Amanda Arebalo) - 1:57.37

200 yard freestyle relay team (Molly Miller Rijfkogel, Sydnee Blackburn, Ella Moomey, Amanda Arebalo) – 1:54.18

400 yard freestyle relay team (Ella Moomey, Ally Blackburn, Annika Ostrem, Jessica Riggs) - 3:55.41

Amanda Arebalo – 50 yard freestyle – 27.15

Ella Moomey – 100 yard freestyle – 59.45 / 500 yard freestyle – 5:50.70

Annika Ostrem – 200 yard freestyle – 2:04.83 / 100 yard butterfly – 1:00.83

Jessica Riggs – 200 yard IM – 2:11.68* / 100 yard breaststroke – 1:07.41*

*These times were the fastest recorded for those events by any swimmer at the meet.

Boys team

200 yard medley relay team (Tyler Marks, Adrian Pacheco, Brandon Janney, Jacob Avalos) - 1:48.20

200 yard freestyle relay team (Dylan Ragsdale, Patrick Grimes, Zayne Salcido, Jacob Avalos) – 1:37.03

400 yard freestyle relay team (Tyler Marks, Dylan Ragsdale, Brandon Janney, Adrian Pacheco) - 3:33.24

Jacob Avalos – 50 yard freestyle – 22.70 / 100 yard freestyle – 51.54

Brandon Janney – 200 yard freestyle – 1:59.84 / 500 yard freestyle – 5:36.89

Tyler Marks – 100 yard backstroke – 1:03.74

Adrian Pacheco – 200 yard IM – 2:03.99 / 100 yard butterfly – 56.00

Over the course of the season, 18 Warrior swimmers achieved qualifying times for the CIF Division II Valley Championships. In addition to the individual and relay team gold medalists listed above, qualifying swimmers included Reilly Moomey, Stevie Ringle, Yu Sato and Samantha Whetstone.

Seeking gold at Valley

The Warrior swimmers arrived at Bakersfield College on Friday, May 11, ready to give their all in search of finals swims at the CIF Division II Championships. The competition at Valley is a step up from league competition, with the best area swimmers from more than 35 schools competing for only 16 Saturday swims in each event.

With 10 girls and 8 boys, the Warriors were positioned to make a serious splash in the meet. By the time the final event had been swum, Tehachapi had earned 19 finals berths. Almost every individual swimmer and relay team dropped time from their league performances. Swimmers who had worked diligently all season were now positioned to earn valuable points for the team and for medal contention.

Saturday’s finals competition began with the girls 200 yard medley relay. Seeded 2nd overall, the team of Molly Miller Rijfkogel, Jessica Riggs, Annika Ostrem and Amanda Arebalo came up huge, winning the event and seizing the gold medal with a time of 1:55.61.

Coach Delgadillo praised the group, “They all put in their best that they could do, and they took it.”

It was the first section relay championship victory for the Warriors that she could remember in the last 15 years. It would turn out to be the only first place swim for the team, but not the only successful performance.

As the meet went on, the Warriors earned multiple medals and big points with championship finals swims and more points with consolation finals performances. By the end of the meet, the girls earned 160 points and a sixth place finish, while the boys earned 82 points and finished in tenth place.

Relays were a big part of the team’s success on Saturday. In addition to the girls 200 yard medley, every Tehachapi relay team had either a championship or consolation finals swim. The boys 200 yard medley (Marks, Pacheco, Janney, Avalos) earned a 7th place medal with a time of 1:46.15. The girls 200 freestyle relay (Miller Rijfkogel, S. Blackburn, Moomey, Arebalo) placed 16th with a time of 1:52.73. The boys 200 freestyle relay (Marks, Salcido, Ragsdale, Avalos) also placed 16th, with a time of 1:36.02. The girls 400 freestyle relay (A. Blackburn, Moomey, Ostrem, Riggs) gained a 6th place medal with a time of 3:55.26. And the boys 400 yard freestyle relay (Ragsdale, Marks, Janney, Pacheco) swam a time of 3:32.67, which earned 11th place.

Individual accomplishments abounded, as well. Annika Ostrem earned a silver medal in the 100 yard butterfly with her time of 1:00.65 and her time of 2:01.69 in the 200 yard freestyle was good enough for a fifth place medal. Amanda Arebalo swam a 27.21 in the 50 yard freestyle, which put her in 13th place.

Ella Moomey’s 500 yard freestyle swim of 5:48.78 earned 9th place, just out of medal contention and Sydnee Blackburn was not far behind, finishing 11th in the 500 with a time of 5:54.04. Molly Miller Rijfkogel earned 12th place in the 100 yard backstroke by swimming 1:08.41.

The boys earned their own share of individual glory. Jacob Avalos swam 22.29 in the 50 yard freestyle and earned a 5th place medal and his swim of 50.26 in the 100 yard freestyle put him in 10th place. Adrian Pacheco made his way to the podium with a 6th place finish in the 200 yard IM by posting a time of 2:02.93. He also received an 8th place medal in the 100 yard backstroke with a 58.40.

One more meet to go

For one Warrior swimmer, the season didn’t end with the Valley Championships. For the first time, Tehachapi has qualified a swimmer to compete in the CIF California State Swimming Championships.

Jessica Riggs started the meet as a member of the gold medal 200 yard medley relay team. She then swam a 2:10.78 in the 200 yard IM to earn the silver medal in that event. But it was her swim in the 100 yard breaststroke that made Tehachapi history.

Her time of 1:05.80 earned her another silver medal and was a State Championship consideration time. It was also the second fastest time of any breaststroker in the Central Section, D1 or D2, and earned her an automatic bid to the State meet.

When she found out that she had made it to the State Championships, Riggs was ecstatic. It was a goal she has worked for all year. Earlier in the meet, she had missed qualifying in the 200 yard IM by less than a third of a second. That disappointment just made her more determined to have a best time in the breaststroke.

It was that determination that fueled her performance, resulting in a time drop of almost a half a second from her preliminary time the day before. And it was just enough to achieve her goal, beating the next fastest competitor in the Section by only 0.19 seconds.

Last year, Riggs was the D2 Valley breaststroke champion and took home a gold medal. This year she got second place, but it seems golden to her.

Gordon Riggs is the father of Jessica Riggs.