CUPERTINO -- It came down to the wire, but in the end, the Orange Coast College men's swim team stood alone atop the mountain, capturing the state title at the 2018 California Community College Athletic Association State Swim/Dive Championships at De Anza College this past weekend.
Late in the final day of the three-day event, Sierra pulled ahead of the Pirates, 436-435, with just six events remaining. But, it was event 34 -- the men's 100-yard freestyle -- where the Pirates showed its depth and talent to pick up the points needed to pull away from the Wolverines.
Once the final points were tabulated, the Pirates took home the school's eighth men's swim state title in school history with a team score of 571.5 points, 14.5 points ahead of Sierra's team total of 556 points. Golden West (353 points) finished a distant third, followed by top-10 scores by Diablo Valley (320), San Diego Mesa (275), Pasadena City (273), Cuesta (184), Santa Monica City (182), Riverside City (169) and Las Positas (137).
While the Pirates did not win that pivotal 100 free, Coast managed to earn 74 HUGE points from the 2-3-4-5 spots, led by the quartet of Donny Hadden and Reece Hemmens, who finished tied for second and gave Coast 32 team points with a time of 44.91 seconds. Michael Jones earned 15 points with his fourth-place finish (45.06), while Dawson Sloan (45.37, 14 points) finished fifth.
"Everyone kept telling me, 'hey you got it,' and I'm sitting there seeing Sierra in the standings right with us," said Orange Coast aquatics coach Anthony Iacopetti said on Saturday at the State Meet. "I was nervous all weekend, and it wasn't until we had a big score in the 100 freestyle that I felt we were finally in a position to win it."
Capping off the meet in grand style, the Coast foursome of Hayden Hemmens, Jones, Reece Hemmens and Hadden blistered the rest of the field and clinched the state title for the Pirates by shattering the state record in the 400 freestyle relay with a time of 3:00.62, breaking the previous mark of 3:01.21, set nine years ago by OCC as well.
The final relay win was OCC's fifth state relay crown in five races, a key factor in the Pirates winning the state team title.
"We were so strong in the sprint freestyles and this team worked very hard to be ready," Iacopetti said. "As it turned out we needed all five of those relay wins."
Hayden Hemmens, who won his third individual state title on Saturday in the 200 backstroke (1:46.36), shared Men's Swimmer of the Year honors with San Diego Mesa's Brandon Crabtree, who also won three titles at this year's State Meet.
It was a clean sweep for the Pirates, who also captured women's state title at the State Meet, giving OCC 92 state/national titles in school history.
Complete results from the three-day State Meet can be found HERE.
Day 2 recap can be found HERE.
Day 1 recap can be found HERE.
(Special thanks to Robert Lewis, state representative of the California Community College Sports Information Association, for providing results and recaps throughout the State Meet).