Swimming All-Area: Glendora’s Gretchen Jaques and Damien’s Jason Haney swimmers of the year

By Steve Ramirez, Staff Writer
For one, it was the continuation of a career that might go down as the best in Valley history. For the other, it was breakout party and a peek at better things to come. Glendora High School’s Gretchen Jaques, who added to her list of CIF-Southern Section titles, and Damien’s Jason Haney, who had a solid showing in his first appearance at the CIF-SS Division 2 meet, showed they simply are the best. For their efforts, these athletes are the Tribune Swimmers of the Year. (To continue, click thread).

First Team
Coach of the Year
: Andrew Gates, Damien, Sr.
Swimmer of the Year: Jason Haney, Damien, So.
Sprints: Chris Lodolo, Damien, Sr.
Middle: Johnny Beal, Damien, Jr.
Middle: Bennett Yuan, Diamond Bar, So.
Middle: Henry Shieh, San Dimas, Sr.
Middle: Damon Pitre, Damien, Sr.
Second Team
Sprints: Kenny Ho, West Covina, Sr.
Distance: Carson May, Damien, So.
Middle: Nick Phan, Walnut, Sr.
Middle: Matt Sapien, Covina, Sr.
Middle: Danny Lam, Sierra Vista, So.

First Team
Coach of the Year:
Lani Ruh, Walnut
Swimmer of the Year: Gretchen Jaques, Glendora, Jr.
Sprints: Andrea Grant, Walnut, Jr.
Sprints/Middle: Kylie Garcia, Rowland, Sr.
Middle: Emily Yu, Walnut, Jr.
Middle: Courtney McCadden, Glendora, Jr.
Distance: Madeline Harbach, St. Lucy’s, Jr.
Second Team
Sprints: Tiffany Hsu, Walnut, Sr
Middle: Christina Vu, Walnut, Fr.
Middle: Ellie Jaques, Glendora, Fr.
Middle: Kelly Corso, Glendora, Jr.
Middle: Emily Donohoe, St. Lucy’s, Jr.

The All-Area boys first team features the Damien trio of Chris Lodolo, Johnny Beal and Damon Pitre, Diamond Bar’s Bennett Yuan and San Dimas’ Henry Shieh. The girls team features Walnut’s Andrea Grant and Emily Yu, Rowland’s Kylie Garcia, St. Lucy’s Madeline Harbach and Glendora’s Courtney McCadden.

Walnut’s Lani Ruh and Damien’s Andrew Gates are Coaches of the Year.

Jaques, Swimmer of the Year for the third consecutive season, earned the honor this season despite taking on a new challenge, switching from the sprint events of the 50- and 100-yard freestyles to the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke.

The junior, who dominated the sprint events her first two years, continued to excel despite the change. She won CIF-SS titles in both, including breaking U.S. Olympian Janet Evans’ Division 2 record in the 200 IM with a 1:57.91. She also won both events in the CIF-SS Masters Meet.

“It’s an amazing feeling to accomplish your goals, especially this season,” Jaques said. “I challenged myself in events I knew there would be a ton of competition in. To set the records I set, I’m surprised.”

Haney’s accomplishments were somewhat surprising, especially coming from a sophomore, but he showed his ability in earning Sierra League MVP honors before finishing an area-best second in the Division 2 100 free, to go along with an eighth place in the 100 backstroke.

“I was really happy the way everything turned out,” Haney said. “I was excited (to finish second at the CIF-SS finals). It was more than I expected.

“I wasn’t thinking about finishing second, but after prelims I thought I might have a chance to win. Hopefully, the next two years I can make it back to CIF and win it.”

His success at the Division 2 finals was one of many successes by Glendora, which behind Gates’ leadership has become the top boys program in the area.

Lodolo and Beal enjoyed top-eight finishes to help the Spartans finish fifth in their division.

Lodolo was fourth in the 50 free, with Beal taking fifth in the 100 breaststroke. Pitre was 11th in the 200 free. All three also helped Damien earn second, fourth and fifth, respectively, in the 200 free, 200 medley and 400 free relays.

Shieh was the top swimmer in the Valle Vista League and had solid efforts at the Division 4 meet, where he took fourth in the 100 breaststroke and sixth in the 200 IM.

Yuan finished seventh in the 100 breaststroke at the Division 2 meet.

Ruh is girls Coach of the Year after leading the Mustangs to the Division 2 title. It was her second CIF-SS title this year, after Walnut won the girls water polo title in February.

Grant leads the girls first-team choices after earning her second and third CIF-SS titles with wins in the 50 free and 100 free, respectively, at the Division 2 finals. She also won a CIF-SS title in 2009. The junior – along with Yu, who was fourth in the 100 butterfly – helped the Mustangs earn the Division 2 title.

Garcia enjoyed another solid year and finished it with two second-place finishes in the 50 and 100 frees.

Harbach was the top distance swimmer and brought home an eighth-place medal in the 500 free.

McCadden was part of Glendora’s one-two punch and finished sixth in the 100 breaststroke. She also helped the Tartans to a first place in the 200 medley relay.


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  • Frank Corona

    There are studs and then… there are studs, Coach Gates is a flat out stud!

    As one of the most demanding men I have ever come across I see Coach Gates for what he is, a man with vision, courage and clearly defined standards. I’ve heard his classes are as demanding as any on campus and his grading is a true precursor to what they can expect in some of the best colleges in the land. An “A” in his class is still considered quite the personal accomplishment.

    When I first set foot on Damien soil I was struck by the constant activity by the pool. Gates has built a power house program which sends kids to compete at Cal, USC, Yale ect ect ect while being subjected to extremely demanding work outs, he creates true scholar-athletes.

    One day recently I asked him, ‘Why aren’t you and Doc in Damien’s Hall of Fame” ? He smiled and said, “That’s out of my hands”. When I told him if he’d be okay with efforts to change the Alumni Only rules he said, “That’s a tough one.” I said, “How do these HOF Alumni become HOF caliber?” He smiled.

    Congratulations Coach Gates, my son still treasures the memories of your demanding lectures and challenging teaching style and I appreciate anyone who demands the best of himself before he demands the best of others. Continued success Sir. I hope before I leave I get to see you and “Doc” get the Damien recognition you both so richly deserve.

    Open up the Hall to the men who shape future Hall of Famers in their most formative of years… “Doc” Williams and Andrew Gates should go in together in the same class. That would make for a special night, one I hope to see soon.

  • bearcats

    fred, no bonita swimmers made the cut?

  • Swimguy

    Is there a reason most of these swimmers, swim for Jim Johnson at Brea Aquatics?