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’Jackets put up strong showing at first day of DLS Invitational

By Jared Green, Daily Planet Staff
Saturday March 23, 2002

The Berkeley High swimming team got a shot at some big-time competition on Friday, and the ’Jackets showed up well at the first day of the De La Salle Invitational. 

Both Berkeley relay teams recorded times that qualify them for consideration for North Coast Section competition, and Dominic Cathey finished second in the 500-meter freestyle race. The ’Jackets did well in the day’s longest event, with Nick Easterday finishing sixth behind Cathey and Sallie Oto and Gretchen Arnason finishing fifth and seventh, respectively, on the girls’ side. Cathey, Oto and Arnason all qualified for NCS consideration in the 500-meter medley. 

Not bad for an event that Berkeley head coach Keith Brooks called “just fun for us. We always have fun at this event.” 

The De La Salle Invitational is the biggest meet the ’Jackets will compete in during the regular season. With 19 schools represented, including several very strong programs, the Berkeley swimmers got a chance to measure themselves against some stiff competition. 

“This is a great meet. There’s a really wide range of competition and a bigger pool,” Oto said. “You have to swim your best time here to compete. It’s not really even like a high school meet.” 

Brooks said that while he wants his swimmers to perform their best every time out, the swimmers themselves get more pumped up for the bigger meets. 

“I just want to teach them and coach them to improve themselves,” Brooks said. “But there’s no doubt that having someone going fast next to you gets the adrenaline flowing and the heart pumping a little faster.” 

Oto and Cathey also led the Berkeley contingent to a strong showing in the 200-meter individual medley. Cathey threw up a strong time of 2:04.5, with Ariel Nikzad finishing in 2:10.5. Oto led the girls with a time of 2:23.3, and Lindsay Rodgers and Amy Jagust raced side-by-side to finishes of 2:30.4 and 2:28.4, respectively. Oto and Cathey both qualified for NCS consideration in the event. 

“The big meets are more exciting,” Cathey said. “You line up next to those guys and want to go faster.” 

The second day of the event starts at 8 a.m. on Saturday, with eight different events filling the day. Brooks said he will bring a larger team on Saturday, with some of Friday’s competitors staying home and new swimmers coming in. 

“This has always been a successful event for us, but we usually start slow,” he said. “I expect us to catch fire tomorrow like we usually do on the second day.”