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VALLEY/VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Quantum Leap

Hart's Ervin Making Impact at Nationals

April 16, 1998|MICHAEL LAZARUS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

CANYON COUNTRY — The Hart High boys' swimming team didn't miss Anthony Ervin much when he competed in two national meets.

The Indians, one of the top teams in Southern Section Division II, had little trouble defeating Valencia and Burroughs in Foothill League meets.

And they would have managed without him Wednesday afternoon against Canyon at North Oaks Park. Even without another top standout--junior Ryan Parmenter was missing because of illness--Hart won every event in a 133-32 victory. But the Indians were ready to welcome back the best boys' swimmer in the region.

"I told him he could sit back and take a rest," Hart Coach Steve Neale said. "But he was ready to go. That's the type of guy he is. He can go from senior nationals to Canyon High and it doesn't matter to him."

Ervin, a junior, had always been one of the most versatile swimmers around--he finished second in the 100-yard freestyle and third in the 100 backstroke in the Division II finals last year. But it was his performance in those two national meets that affirmed his arrival as one of the best high-school-age swimmers in the nation.

At the Junior National West meet in Grand Forks, N.D., last month, Ervin won the 50 and 100 freestyle. The youngest finalist in both events, Ervin won the 50 in 20.71 and the 100 in 45.11. In two previous trips to the Junior National meet, Ervin hadn't finished higher than 24th.

One week later, at the U.S. Nationals in Minneapolis, Ervin, 16, was fourth in the consolation final in the 100-meter freestyle, finishing in 51.80, and third in the 50 freestyle consolation, timing 23.63. Everyone who finished ahead of Ervin was at least three years older.

In the 100 preliminaries, Ervin was .01 shy of qualifying for the final, finishing in a three-way tie for ninth place and beating Josh Davis, an Olympic gold medalist.

"I could see doing well at the juniors. I think some people were missing because it was such a hard place to get to," Ervin said. "But to do that well at the Nationals was really good for me."

Said Neale: "It was a quantum leap for him. To be at his level and to take that much time off is huge."

There was a slight downside to the two weeks of competition. Ervin missed 10 days of school, putting him far behind in his advanced placement physics and statistics classes.

Ervin still has two months to catch up. And he still has a month until his next big event, the Division II finals. Hart has league meets against Burbank and Saugus, then the Foothill League finals.

Ervin hasn't decided which individual events to swim--against Canyon he won the 200 individual medley in 2:01.17 and the 100 freestyle in 49.36.

But he will team with Parmenter, sophomore Eric Pritchett and exchange student Christian Kneppeck in the 400 freestyle relay.

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