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Ups and Downs of the Prep Sports Year

Members of The Times Orange County prep sports staff share their memories of the people, events and issues of the past school year. : Wrestler Fights Off Illness

June 17, 1997|ERIK HAMILTON

Undoubtedly, the most impressive team effort for the wrestling season was Calvary Chapel winning its fourth state title in five years. And equally impressive were seniors Ty Wilcox and Joe Calavitta successfully defending their state titles in Stockton last March.

But though the Eagles' win was amazing, and Wilcox and Calavitta's feat also noteworthy, for me, the one wrestler that sticks in my mind is Calvary Chapel's Louie Hernandez, who had to battle a debilitating virus all season long that left him gasping for air.

Before he contracted the virus, Hernandez was a favorite to win a state title. He worked hard and put in long hours on the mat during the off-season so that his senior year would be a success. For Hernandez, his goal to place at state was his utmost priority.

But that was before he became ill. Hernandez soon found himself tiring easily and having to stop in the middle of practice because he couldn't breathe.

From then on, Hernandez was reduced to wrestling from period to period. And instead of looking at the entire match, with the possibility of overtime, his goal was to win as soon as possible so he wouldn't have to prolong his misery.

For most wrestlers, the agony would be too much. But Hernandez never gave up, and took sixth place at state in March.

By far, Philippe Demers of Santa Margarita always provided the most excitement when he dived into the pool.

At one meet, which had Santa Margarita up against top-ranked Mission Viejo and second ranked Foothill, Demers, who's headed to USC, showed why he will go down as one of the county's best male swimmers.

Although Santa Margarita trailed both schools, the last event of the meet, the 400 freestyle relay, was coming up. All three schools were fielding their best swimmers.

As expected, Mission Viejo and Foothill were leading, with Santa Margarita behind about two body lengths going into the final leg of the relay.

But when Demers dived off the block as the anchor for the Eagles, it was clear that he was determined to catch the other two swimmers and win the event.

Swimming an amazing 44.70 seconds as the anchor, which if counted, would have been the fastest 100 free time in the county, Demers caught Mission Viejo and Foothill to touch first and give his team the win.

I can still see Santa Margarita Coach Rick Rowland strutting up and down the deck, screaming, "Did you see that? He did a 44. Oh man, he's the man."

In girls' swimming, it was always a pleasure to watch Olympian Amanda Beard of Irvine swim. Although she had some good races during the season, the one race that sticks out is her 100 freestyle at Southern Section Division I finals. Although she is known for her breaststroke, which got her two silver medals at the Olympics last Summer, Beard took a chance on swimming the 100 freestyle and win the race at section finals.

Although her time is not a blazing speed when compared to the rest of the nation, it's still fast and is not far behind former Irvine sprinter Wendy O'Brien's winning time two years ago. But more important than her time was her attitude, an attitude of, "Why not," which is refreshing in these times of high-pressure high school athletics.

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