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Edison's 'Team Sally' sweeps Fountain Valley
It was written in black ink on the backs, legs and forearms of Edison’s swimmers as they raced against visiting Fountain Valley on Tuesday.
The words “Team Sally” and "#swim4sally" were seemingly everywhere but especially in the hearts of the Edison swimmers.
They raced for Edison coach Diggy Riley’s wife, Sally, who is hospitalized while undergoing radiation therapy for cancer after more than a hundred small tumors were recently found in her brain. She has been battling melanoma, a type of skin cancer that has spread in her body, for about a year.
“It’s almost like you’re fighting for family,” Edison senior Thomas Smith said.
“There’s that extra level of respect for Diggy as a coach, and then it goes even higher to him being a mentor. He showed up (Tuesday) and was still taking the time to motivate us.”
Edison responded by sweeping the boys and girls meets to improve to 2-0 in the Sunset League. The Chargers’ sixth-ranked boys finished first-second in the meet-ending 400-yard freestyle relay to secure a 93-77 victory, and Edison’s fourth-ranked girls won, 103-67.
"That was a really big factor," Edison's Dylan Nelson said of racing for Diggy and Sally. "It was really motivational."
Smith split a 47.20 anchor in the 400 to team with sophomore Jonny Bramm and brothers Dylan and Zach Nelson for a winning time of 3 minutes, 19.11 seconds. The LSU-bound Smith slammed his fist in the water after touching the wall.
“That last relay epitomizes, hopefully, what we’re going to do for the rest of the season,” the senior said. “When it’s close or adversity is surrounding your team … you just want to step up and race.”
Edison led, 81-75, going into the 400 relay but also touched second thanks to its team of Trent Cozza, Luke Heydorf, Garrett Wasserman and Cole Heydorf.
Riley said he was humbled by the support and inspired by his wife’s fighting spirit.
“I can see it her eyes,” he said. “We have no other choice but to be positive. She needs to see us with faith and with hope. We’re grounded in the Lord. We know God has a plan.”
Riley and Sally have two children, Tanner, 27, and, Lindsay, 25, a former three-year member of the Laker girls. Both are supporting their mother.
The swimmers also hung a signed banner outside the Riley home Tuesday morning that read, "Swimming for Sally" along with the family's motto, "God's got this."
Smith won the 200 individual medley (1:59.21) and 100 backstroke (50.93). His backstroke time was his fastest in the Edison pool.
Fountain Valley’s boys (1-1 in league) won the medley (1:40.07) and 200 freestyle (1:31.08) relays and got a sweep in the 50 (22.70) and 100 (49.77) freestyles from Josh Bernardin. The Barons' rising sophomore Justin Nguyen also finished second to Smith in the back (53.44) and led off the 200 free relay in 22.46 to help unranked Fountain Valley push the Chargers to the final event.
"That was a shock," Fountain Valley coach Mike Nichols said of the final margin. "This allows us to dream a little bigger."
Edison’s Nora Deleske captured the 200 individual medley (2:07.96) and 100 breaststroke (1:05.03) while Fountain Valley’s Carly Perri touched first in the 200 free (1:53.80) and 100 butterfly (season-best 57.55).
Taylor Newton helped spark the Chargers' victory by rallying in the final yards to anchor the winning medley relay in 1:52.23. She later touched a narrow-second to Megan Kluck (25.40) in the 50 free (25.42) and first in the 100 free (54.13).