The Saddleback men's swim and dive team finished in fifth place at the Orange Empire Conference Finals on Saturday at Golden West College. The Gauchos had a number of solid performances, with 10 different top-10 finishes.
Saddleback had just eight swimmers at the event, so they knew it was going to be a tough challenge against arguably the toughest competition in the state. The Orange Empire Conference has won 20 state titles since 1990, with Golden West winning three straight from 2013-2015 and 15 since 1985. Saddleback hung tough despite the long odds, finishing fifth and outdistancing the sixth place team by 240 points.
Saddleback was led by Jacob Smith, Sam Fulton, Max Gonter, Keeon Jabbour and Jeffrey Rebrukh. Smith had the best finish of the weekend when he rallied for a fourth place finish in the 200 backstroke with a time of 2:00.67. His time was the 12th fastest time in program history and 2.70 seconds faster than his qualifying time. Smith went on to finish fifth in the 100 backstroke (55.71) and eighth in the 200 individual medley (2:04.69).
Fulton had a sixth place finish in the 100 backstroke (56.24), seventh place finish in the 200 fly (1:59.91) and ninth place finish in the 100 fly (53.71). The three finishes put him in the top-20 all time in Saddleback history in all three events.
Gonter finished seventh overall in the 200 breaststroke with a time of 2:20.95. The time was 2.13 seconds faster than his qualifying time and nearly 14 seconds faster than his seed time. It also put him in the top-50 all time in Saddleback history.
Jabbour joined the crowd when he finished in ninth place in the 1650 freestyle race. His time of 18:43.40 was a full 1:11.22 faster than his qualifying time.
Rebrukh finished in sixth place in both the 1-meter and 3-meter dive competitions.
Saddleback will compete again at the state championships at East Los Angeles College on May 4.