Morenci sophomore swim trio state meet bound; Wiltbank, Lewis, Leyba are section champions

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Quinton Wiltbank placed first in the 100 butterfly and in the 200 Free at the sectional meet in Casa Grande on Oct. 24. He is seeded 11th for the 200 Free and 13th for the 100 Fly.

By Raymundo Frasquillo

MORENCI – Three Morenci boys will be headed for the 2020 Division III state swim meet at Phoenix Country Day School Saturday, Nov. 7. Class of 2023 members Elijah Leyba, Tyler Lewis, and Clinton Wiltbank will be representing the three-year program in Paradise Valley. Fans will not be allowed to attend because of the global health crisis.

Morenci was third of six teams earning points, behind section champion San Tan Valley Poston Butte’s 313 points and runner-up Casa Grande (202) and ahead of Florence (110), Coolidge (61), and Queen Creek San Tan Foothills (33).

The three Wildcats each won an event in the Casa Grande-held, Morenci-hosted sectional qualifying meet Oct. 24. They made the upcoming state meet field of 24 in four events, finishing as individual section champions.

Wiltbank placed first of three in the 100 butterfly (58:19) and first of eight in the 200 freestyle (1:55.65) at the sectional meet. He is seeded 11th in the 200 Free and 13th in the 100 Fly. Wiltbank holds school records in both the 100 Fly (58.18) and 500 Free (5:12.17), set at the state meet preliminaries and finals, respectively, last season.

Lewis had a time of 1:06.25 in the 100 backstroke and 26.41 in the 50 Free to finish 1st of four and 4th of 14, respectively. He is ranked 13th (100 Back) for the state meet.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Tyler Lewis finished first in the sectional 100 Back and is seeded 13th for the state meet.

Leyba ended 1st of nine in the 100 Free (56.00) and 5th in the 50 Free (26.99). He is ranked 16th in the 100 Free.

Non-state meet qualifier freshman Gabriel Clancy placed 11th in the 50 Free (32.61) and 8th of eight in the 100 breaststroke (1:47.20).

The team is coached by Dana Bayardo.

Other individual event section champions were Coolidge senior Holden Linke in the 50 Free (24.97); Florence senior Gavin Hansen in the 100 Breast (1:08.93) and 200 Individual Medley (2:20.26); and Poston Butte senior Bryce Sorensen in the 500 Free (7:21.55) along with the Broncos’ 200 Free Relay (1:48.17), the 200 Medley Relay (2:05.41), and the 400 Free Relay (4:46.44).

Last season, two Wildcats placed in four events at the state meet and two did not finish high enough to qualify for the finals. Class of 2021 member Thaddeus Gray Jr. placed 10th in the 100 freestyle (50.21) and 15th in the 50 Free (23.11). His times were both personal bests and school records. He clocked in at 51.38 to place 11th in the 100 Free during 2018.

Wiltbank also competed in two state meet events, placing 13th in the 100 Fly (58.69) and 17th in the 500 Free (5:12.17). His preliminary clocking for the 100 Fly (58.18) and his final time in the 500 Free are both personal bests and school records.

Class of 2022 member Rebel Gentry and Leyba finished 31st of 38 in the 500 Free (5:39.35) and 33rd of 39 in the 100 Fly (1:00.44), respectively. The times were both personal bests and Leyba’s a school record.

Gray’s 2:21.29 clocking also re-set a personal best time in the 200 Individual Medley (Fly, Back, Breast, Free). His 2018 time was 2:27.50.

Wiltbank set four other personal bests in the 100 backstroke (1:04.20), 100 breaststroke (1:07.51), 200 Free (1:58.57), and 200 individual medley (2:14.47). Except for his 200 Free mark, the rest are school records.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Elijah Leyba ended first in the 100 Free and is seeded 16th for the state meet.

Personal bests were also set by Gentry in the 50 Free (26.64) and 100 Back (1:08.51) and by Leyba in the 100 Breast (1:10.95), 100 Back (1:14.26), and 200 IM (2:25.55).

The five other non-state qualifying members set personal bests this season. Lewis had 26.68 (50 Free), 57.87 (100 Free), 1:05.24 (100 Back); Class of 2020 member Israel Bernal-Diaz 27.22 (50 Free), 59.43 (100 Free), and 1:25.26 (100 Back); Class of 2023 member David Marquez Jr. 27.85 (50 Free) and 1:01.77 (100 Free); Class of 2020 member Nicolas Zegarra Nunez 28.57 (50 Free), 1:03.21 (100 Free), and 1:38.77 (100 Breast); and Class of 2023 member Clinton Sipes Jr. 30.87 (50 Free) and 1:09.86 (100 Free).

The three relay teams also set school records, Leyba, Gentry, Gray, and Wiltbank in the 200 Free Relay (1:40.73); Gray, Leyba, Lewis, and Wiltbank in the 200 Medley Relay (1:52.74); and Gentry, Gray, Lewis, and Wiltbank in the 400 Free Relay (3:50.15).

Records set in 2018 were 1:56.29 (200 FR) and 2:14.95 (200 MR) with both including then sophomores Gray, Israel Bernal-Diaz, Jazper Brooks, and freshman David Marquez Jr.