Union Democrat staff

The Sonora Wildcats put up a strong effort Friday in their Mother Lode League opening swim meet against the Bret Harte Bullfrogs.

The two schools were the top teams last year with the Wildcat boys winning the league title and the Bullfrog girls claiming the top prize.

On Friday at the Sonora pool, where the well-seasoned electric timing and scoring equipment failed after the first race and all the results were hand-written, it was all Wildcats.

When the final tally was reported, the Sonora boys won 117-52 and the Wildcat girls prevailed 104-66.

For the Wildcat girls, beating the Bullfrogs was special since it’s been four years since that last happened.

“We haven’t beaten them in at least four years and to finally do so, I just couldn’t be more excited and happy for this group of girls,” said Wildcat head coach Josh Martin. “They work so hard and have had this goal in mind all season — they circled this meet on the calendar when the schedule came out — and they delivered big time.”

Other than the first event of the day, where Bullfrog swimmers Danea Palmer, Leah Jensvold, Olivia Lilly and Kat Riedel sped away to win the 200-yard medley relay with a Sac-Joaquin Section meet qualifying time, the Wildcat girls won every event.

Sonora senior Sammie Slater, the girls’ captain, led both her relays, the 200 and 400 freestyle, to first-place finishes, both with section qualifying times. Her teammates were Emily VanNoord, Payton Frediani, and Taetum Arnett in the 200 and VanNoord, Arnett, and Josie Personius in the 400.

Slater also placed first in the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke. Her 100 fly time was just short of section qualifying.

Jensvold finished second (1 minutes, 9 seconds) to Slater by five seconds and also is eyeing that 1:04 qualifying time.

Wildcat freshman Emily Van Noord took first in the 200 IM with a section qualifying time and fellow frosh Targum Arnett was third.

“We’re really proud of our team,” said Bret Harte head coach Andrea Mazza. “The school has had a tough, emotional week, we’ve got people sick, and Sonora is just a really good team. They are more advanced, year-round swimmers and it showed today.”

Beloved Bret Harte assistant principal Heath Lane, also the school’s athletic director the two years prior, sustained major injuries after a head-on collision Wednesday and was in fair condition Thursday at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto.

Mazza alluded to the emotional weight her team had been carrying the last couple of days.

The Wildcat boys started the meet with Robby VanNoord, Dalton Hansten, Levi Houghton and Trevor Mills swimming to first place in the 200 medley relay with a section qualifying time of 1:49.62.

“It was a great swim by the leaders of our boys team,” Martin said. “They set a good tone at the beginning and never let up. They took first place in every event and put up a great effort to begin league and defend their title. Competing against Bret Harte is always a lot of fun. They bring the our best and we look forward to seeing them again this season.”