San Benito High senior Gus Spurzem plans on hitting a CCS-qualifying time in the 100-yard butterfly, one of his signature events.

The San Benito High swimming team isn’t used to getting swept in a dual meet.
It happens so infrequently that when it does occur—as was the case last Friday when host Christopher High won the boys and girls’ races by scores of 92-87 and 104-76, respectively—it comes as a shock.
However, the Cougars have long been known as one of the rising programs in the South Valley, and their time has come. The Haybalers found out the hard way, though they’re not worrying too much about it.
“I have a lot of confidence we’re going to get faster as the season goes on,” said Balers junior Jake Last, who won the 100 breaststroke race in 1 minute, 16.11 seconds. “It’s still early in the season, and we’ll be able to improve.”
Last was just one of two individual winners—Gus Spurzem was the other—from the San Benito side. Spurzem captured the 100 backstroke in 1:07.89, a time he said “basically tied my PR (personal record).”
Spurzem was also a part of the Balers’ victorious 400 free relay team, as he teamed with Ryan Okubo, Ben Smith and Zander Bonnet to win the last race of the meet. The Cougars won the two other relay events: the 200 medley and 200 free.
The Balers’ lone individual winner from the girls’ side was Grace Larson, who wasn’t satisfied with her 1:17.87 time in the 100 breast. In sports such as swimming at the prep level—especially during the regular season—time trumps place.
“It’s nice to win, but a good time would be better,” said Larson, who also finished second in the 50 free. “Coming in first is nice because you get more points for your team, but everyone wants to swim a good time or set your personal best. I think this was probably my worst meet of the season.”
Although Last didn’t set any PRs, he did swim a fast second leg of the 200 medley relay, which gave the Balers a small lead entering the third leg. Spurzem was satisfied with his performance; in addition to the 100 backstroke, the senior also finished second in the 100 butterfly.
The San Benito girls simply ran into a buzzsaw in the form of a rising Christopher squad that packed plenty of depth in almost every event. However, the Balers had solid performances from Mikayla Krulee, who finished in second place in the 200 individual medley in 2:32.88; Heather Smith, who finished second in the 500 free in 6:09.22; Shannon Stephens, who finished second in the 100 backstroke in 1:09.67; and Hayleigh Smith, who finished in second in the 100 free in 58.63 and second in the 200 free in 2:09.36.
Stephens was in the lead for most of the race only to get overtaken in the final 15 meters. Still, it was a strong result for Stephens, who displayed solid form throughout the race.
Even though Christopher won this showdown, San Benito still has a chance to win the overall league championship if it finishes first in the league championships. For now, the Balers are focused on improving their times all across the board, and winning the rest of their dual meets.
“It’s early in the season, so I think we still did amazing as a team,” Larson said. “The highlight of the meet was even though there were difficulties and we didn’t get the times we had hoped, everyone was still positive.”
Like Last, Spurzem was none too worried about the meet results. After all, Spurzem posted a solid time in winning the 100 backstroke, and he knows faster times are ahead.
“We just have to work harder and keep putting in the time,” he said. “The times will come through having quality practices.”

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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