Freshman Lilliana Noriega places fifth in state finals in an event that was not her strongest.
By Nicholas Orozco, Sports Editor
Touching the wall and looking back at the scoreboard only to find out it was incorrect, Noriega walked away from the state championships securing the fifth-place spot in the 100-yard backstroke.
“She took upon the challenge in the backstroke and shattered her own record once again,” said head coach Pete Loporchio. “I couldn’t be prouder of her.”
The Valley College swimmer may not have placed as high as she wanted, but she broke her personal record.
The California Community College Athletic Association State Championships was hosted at East Los Angeles College last week. Seeing 39 different colleges, 341 swimmers (168 women, 173 male), Valley competed as a smaller team. Monarch swimmers competed in two relay races and three individual races.
The relay races were the 200 and 400-yard races, and Noriega competed in the 50 and 100-yard freestyle, as well as the 100-yard backstroke.
In the first relay of the meet, freshman Ashley Hartunian, Kyra Freemon, Kylie Long and sophomore Liza Gorelik competed in the 200-yard freestyle. The four would record a time of 1:47.79 in the preliminary round and were disqualified from the finals.
The second relay saw a different lineup for the Monarchs in the 400-yard. Hartunian and Freemon were still in the water while Long and Gorelik were subbed out with Noriega and freshman Kelly Long.
These four would finish with a time of 3:56.07 in the preliminary round and drop to a time of 3:50.34 in the finals round, finishing in the 14th spot of 16.
Noriega, the record-breaking freshman, only made the championship heat in the 100-yard backstroke.
For the 50-yard freestyle, she would record a time of 25.04 in the preliminaries and a time of 24.86 in the finals. She would go the distance in the 100-yard freestyle, first recording a time of 54.59 and a time of 55.40 in the finals.
In an event that is not her specialty, she proved that she is a force to be reckoned with. In the preliminary round of the 100-yard backstroke, she put up a time of 1:01.17, which placed her in fifth place overall.
“I’m really proud to have dropped that much [time],” said the 19-year-old. “I was seeded tenth but finished fifth, I’m really happy about that.”
In the championship heat, Noriega prepared herself. Taking her time in the warm-up pool, she did laps and sat at the end of the pool performing breathing exercises.
Taking a step into the pool, the freshman prepared herself for the jump off the wall.
She swam to the best of her ability, as her parents watched in the stands and coach Pete Loporchio watched at the end of the pool.
According to the board, she finished in fourth place. But shortly after, officials met at the computer station where all the official times were recorded, and the announcer stated that the board was incorrect.
The accurate score revealed that the freshman finished in fifth place with a time of 1:00.57.
Both Loporchio and the 19-year-old expressed how happy they were with her performances and are only looking forward to her future as a swimmer.
“I am looking forward to dropping more time in my events and placing higher in state next season,” the record breaker stated after the conclusion of last week’s state finals.