STATE MEET: Coronado pools talent on relays, pursues first girls title since 2007

Relays weren’t a strength for Coronado’s girls swim team early this season. Now the Cougars can’t imagine life without them.
Coronado won two relays and placed second in another at last week’s Sunrise Region meet, helping the Cougars edge Green Valley 507-500 for the championship. It’s a formula Coronado hopes to employ again at Saturday’s state meet.
“We were kind of shocked with our relays,” junior Nicole Mertel said. “I didn’t think we were going to do as well as we did. It was really big for us to win (two) relays at regionals.”
The state diving finals begin at 9 a.m. Saturday at Carson Valley Swim Center in Minden, followed by the swimming finals at noon at Carson Aquatic Facility in Carson City.
Coach David Stump said he has seen great improvement in the Cougars’ relays throughout the year.
“Their starts have gotten better,” he said. “I don’t think it was so much a surprise. I had expectations, and they met them.”
Coronado is coming off Sunrise titles in the 200-yard medley relay in 1 minute, 53.85 seconds and the 400 freestyle relay in 3:38.1, along with a second-place finish in the 200 free relay in 1:45.16.
“I definitely think relays are going to be key for us at state,” said Mertel, who swam on both winning foursomes. “We have to really dig deep because a lot of people are going to try harder up there seeing how we did last week.”
Bishop Gorman won last year’s team state title, and the Gaels are among the favorites Saturday after winning the Sunset championship.
Coronado finished third at state last year and is gunning for its first state crown since 2007. The Cougars’ confidence is high after upsetting Green Valley for the Sunrise title.
“Our goal from the beginning of the season was to win state, and it still is,” said Stump, in his first year as coach.
Coronado is counting on points from junior Samantha Harrison in the 200 and 500 freestyles. She is the defending state champion in both events and swept them in the Sunrise meet, setting a region record in the 200 in 1:53.03.
Mertel won Sunrise titles in the 100 backstroke and 50 freestyle, breaking older sister Alix’s region record in the backstroke in 57.69.
“I was definitely shooting for it,” Nicole said. “I want to keep that (record) in the family for a long time.”
Stump also is excited for his boys team, which will compete for its first state championship after finishing third in the region meet.
Coronado’s Jacob Luna will compete in the 100 butterfly and 100 freestyle, while Hans Nossen will swim the 100 breaststroke and 100 butterfly.
“All the training we’ve done so far this season will definitely help,” said Luna, who won the 100 butterfly region title in 50.19. “We’re paying attention on technique and the final touches so it all comes together.”

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