Gabriel Espinosa is motivated by a swimmer he never met, but one whose name is all over Brophy Prep.
Gary Hall Jr., the most decorated Olympic swimmer to come out of the private Jesuit school, inspires Espinosa every time he gets in the water for Brophy.
The senior’s goal is to break Hall’s 20.30-second 50-yard freestyle school record, set in the 1990s.
He got a little closer Saturday, capturing the 50 in a personal-record 20.70 seconds at the Brophy Invitational.
“I’m tapered, shaved, ready to go,” said Espinosa, who also won the 100 freestyle in 46 seconds Saturday.
Last year, Espinosa swam 20.88 seconds in the 50 at state.
Coach Pat O’Neill said Espinosa is on line to crush that time.
“My race was pretty good, except my start was a little off,” Espinosa said. “I’ve been training hard lately. I was a little sore.”
Brophy also got strong performances from Tucker Wells and Lukas Williams. Wells won the 100 butterfly in 51.03 seconds.
Williams easily won the 200 freestyle in 1 minute, 42.59 seconds.
Williams was second in the 500 freestyle to Phoenix Horizon senior Josh Olszewski (4:40.15).
Espinosa later was part of Brophy’s winning 200 freestyle relay team, along with Brad Dorsey, Jonas Fowler and Ryan McCoy.
That team won in 1:27.53. Espinosa, Wells, T.J. Decker and Fowler comprised Brophy’s winning 200 freestyle relay team (1:36.58).
Chandler senior Kathryn Palomino won her first title in an invitational this season, taking the girls 100 freestyle in 53.26 seconds. She has been a top-four performer at state, but she has never captured a state title.
“I’m kind of at the point where I just let it happen,” Palomino said.
Scottsdale Chaparral sophomore Lexy Aitchison won the 200 freestyle (1:53.27) and Buckeye Verrado took the 200 individual medley (2:04.94) with Aitchison second and another sophomore, Phoenix Horizon’s Sarah Takach third.
Bilquist also won the 50 freestyle (24.00) with her Verrado teammate, senior Danielle Badger, second at 24.30.
Scottsdale Desert Mountain sophomore Katie Shannahan won the 100 butterfly in 57.51.
Predictably, Brophy captured the boys and Phoenix Xavier Prep the girls team championships.
Xavier wins with depth in each event and relays. Hayden Walker won the 500 freestyle and Madeline Wells the 100 breaststroke for Xavier.
“Our main goal is to qualify for state at these meets,” Xavier coach Brian Hoffer said. “And the people who are in this meet are people we think who can qualify for state.”