By all accounts, Clara Jenck and Ben Fitch performed beautifully.
Now, what can they do for an encore?
Mountain Pointe swimming coach Steve Mancuso believes the Pride tandem will again hit the right notes when the state meet gets under way on Friday.
Regardless of how their senior years with the Pride ends, Jenck and Fitch will always have the memory of being the music entertainment at Mancuso’s Oct. 6 wedding in Sedona.
“It was honor to be part of it,” Fitch said. “He is such a great guy and coach. It was great to be able to pay him back a little bit.”
The duo played guitar before the ceremony and at the cocktail hour. Fitch opened up with some Jimi Hendrix and then they went with more soothing guitar selections the rest of the time.
“I was a little busy so I didn’t hear them all that much but everyone said they were great,” Mancuso said. “It doesn’t surprise me. They can do just about anything they put their minds to.”
They will be tested in the water this weekend when the Division I state meet takes place at the Skyline Aquatic Center in Mesa. It starts at 2:30 p.m. with Friday’s preliminaries and continues Saturday with the 1:30 p.m. diving finals followed by the swimming events around 2:30 p.m.
Jenck, who is being heavily recruited and might have found a home at Duke, is the returning champion in the 100 backstroke and her second event was up in the air between the 200 free or the 200 IM.
At the Tempe City meet she set event records in the 100 back and 200 IM.
“She concentrates on the little things and does her work,” Mancuso said. “She just does what she does. I don’t have to worry about Clara very much.”
Fitch, who plays the cello along with the guitar, looks to climb the podium after finishing third in the 200 and 500 freestyles.
He feels he has never been more prepared for a big event simply from learning and growing mentally and physically.
“I was really small and immature when I got to high school and my mind wasn’t in the right place as far as what it takes to compete,” Fitch said. “I’ve learned what I have to do to make a run.”
Fitch, who has visited several Ivy League schools along with Georgetown and George Washington, has a state title and team records in mind heading into the state meet.
“I feel really confident,” said Fitch, who is about 3 seconds off the 200 and 7 seconds off the 500 Pride records. “I am way of ahead of where I was last year (heading into the Tempe City meet last week). I am feeling a lot stronger.”
Mancuso, who married, Jill, over fall break and plans on honeymooning this spring, has been impressed with the focus of Fitch and Jenck, who has played violin and guitar.
“They both have been visiting colleges, talking to (college) coaches and had a lot to handle this year,” Mancuso said. “It’s been a busy year, along with handling their grades, and they’ve been great.”
Desert Vista has a litany of individuals making a push for state as well and look good after winning the Tempe City meet in both boys and girls meets.
The Thunder has been among the best squads most of the season, especially the girls, and could be one of the few programs to place both teams among the top five.
But can any of them do a Hendrix solo?
“I started playing when I was real young, but I kind of put it on the back burner because of swimming and some other things,” Fitch said. “It’s something I love to do and hope to get back to doing it more often.”
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