The 2013 version of the College of San Mateo swim team has a different, put perhaps more fitting, look.
It’s blue-collared — like the school color they represent. The Bulldogs don’t have too much in terms of superstars, but head coach Randy Wright said the depth of the 2013 squad is its most promising and exciting attribute.
"You don’t win championships with just your leading point scorers,” Wright said. "You win championships with everybody point-scoring.”
But make no mistake about it, the expectations that stem from last year’s success — a dominating show at the Coast Conference championships and a big splash at the state meet — are prevalent in 2013. And that all boils down to one name: Miya Oto.
The All-American, who was out-touched at the state meet in the 200, returns. When it comes to having the biggest gun in the Coast Conference battle, CSM has it.
"She’s back with a vengance,” Wright said, "and hopes to move up on the podium. I imagine she’ll have an oppotunity. She’s right there. She’s every bit the swimmer she was last year. But, it’s definitely a step-by-step process.”
But Wright compared the team to an army — with Oto as the general, two or three of his swimmers as sargeants and then there the infantry, who will be just as important if the Bulldogs want to repeat their success.
Rachel Rosas (Hillsdale) and Kellsey Mercado (Aragon) return to the team as key component to CSM’s relays. Key newcomers include Jessica Blakeslee (Capuchino), Kayla Froomin (Aragon), Katelynn McDermott (Mercy-Burlingame) and Jasmine Zaldivar.
"We still have the swimmers,” Wright said. "Last year, we won the conference title by like 100 points. Is that going to happen again? No. It’s going to be more a team (effort). Where we don’t get first [place], now we have focus on getting eighth, 10th, 12th, 14th and make up the points in different ways.”
On the men’s side, gone are a trio of great swimmers from last year’s team. The search for their replacements comes in the form of 10 freshman and a returning sophomore in Alvaro Andaluz, who took a year off and is back on the CSM roster.
So, with all the youth comes the inevitable question marks. Wright said there is talent. He pointed to Sean Doker (Burlingame) who was recruited by U.C. Davis before the Aggies dropped its swim program. Then there are the likes of Derek Koo (Serra), Trevor Jacobs (Terra Nova) and a very fast Jason Wong (Carlmont).
The Bulldogs also add two divers to the fray in Erin Harris (women’s, San Mateo) and Jeremy Rodriguez, a junior college transfer from Colorado. While the men lack the superstar-caliber talent on the front end, Wright said that like the women, the depth will be key.
"It’s not going to be Miya who carries the team to a team title,” Wright said, returning his focus to his reigning champoinship team. "It’s going to be one through 18. It’s going to be everybody putting their time in. That’s been my goal every year — for every individual to do their best and try to improve. And at the end of the day, if everyone swims the best, then the team will be as good as the team is going to be.”