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Kaba dominates local competition
During the past three years, there has been a constant in the area's swimming meets.
Cibola's Jesse Kaba, the Yuma Sun/Yuma Rotary Club 2011 Girls Swimmer of the Year, is going to win her races — and win easily.
For area coaches and swimmers who have dreams of first place in Kaba's races, there is a piece of bad news: She's got one more year left.
Kaba, who finished her junior season this year, has gone undefeated in the area all three years of high school. Perhaps more impressive than the unbeaten record is the way Kaba is winning.
In the region championship meet, Kaba won the 200-yard individual medley by 44 seconds and took the 100-yard breaststroke by 12 seconds.
When the state championship meet rolled around, Kaba swam her best 100-breaststroke of the year. That didn't come to a surprise to Cibola coach Richard McClure, who says that when the stage is at its biggest, Kaba is at her finest.
“If you put her in a big meet, she always comes away with her best times,” McClure said.
Her time of 1:09:19 at state was good enough for a 10th place finish. Her goals for her senior season?
“Probably top five,” Kaba said.
According to McClure, Kaba's dominance around the area has not created a sense of complacency.
“Her goals are so much beyond her region,” he said. “She's looking at where she can go at the state level.”
This past season, McClure decided that in order for Kaba to keep getting better, she needed to be pushed in practice. To do this, he put Kaba in the first lane, meaning she would swim with Cibola boy standouts, like Andrew Russell-Cheung.
“Normally, we separate boys and girls, but this year she needed to be in the fastest lane and she did incredible,” McClure said. “To have her swim next to Andrew and George (Gould), it gave her that extra push.”
After three straight years of placing and scoring at the state level, Kaba is ready to make one more shot at a medaling finish during her senior season. But, according to Kaba, she'll have a lot of aspects to work on over the offseason.
“Turns, pull-outs, stroke rate, your breathing. There's always something to work on,” she said.
Going three seasons without a loss in the area, numbers say that her senior year will be no different. However, she's still trying to climb her way to the top of her sport and make some noise when the 2012 state championship meet comes around. And McClure wouldn't put it past her.
“I think she's got a great shot at that if she keeps progressing the way she has,” McClure said.
Jesse Severson can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6881