Masterful effort from Seo

SportsSwimmingEducationMeg Ryan

LONG BEACH — No one could catch Crescenta Valley High freshman Young Tae Seo in the 200-yard individual medley in Saturday's CIF Southern Section Division II finals. When the best swimmers from the other three Southern Section divisions were invited to take their shot on Tuesday at the 2010 CIF Masters Tournament, the result was no different.

Seo won the 200 IM on Tuesday in 1 minute 50.71 seconds, adding a Masters title to a season of individual accomplishment that included a CIF title, two league titles and several school records.

He wasn't finished yet. Seo doubled his medal haul later in the 500 freestyle, dominating his heat through the early laps and finishing in 4:32.91 with more than enough in the tank to hold off junior Riley Mita of West Ranch (4:33.70) for the win.

"I feel pretty good winning both events," Seo said of his debut at the Masters Meet, which pits the top two finishers per event from each divisional championship meet, plus the top 24 fastest times overall from the divisional meets, in head-to-head competition. "Today, I feel really tired, though. I had Sunday off and then two days later I had to do a meet, so I was off a little.

"I did really good without tapering, but next year I'm going to try and get a CIF record, that's all I want."

Seo's heat of the 200 IM quickly turned into a two-man affair between Seo and University junior Chris Wong and Wong held a slight edge through the end of the backstroke. But Seo caught up quickly and regained the lead in the breaststroke and widened the gap to a body length going into the freestyle.

In the end, it was hardly close, as Seo beat Wong by nearly three seconds and the next fastest time in the heat was Rancho Alamitos junior Alex Cisneros' 1:55.16.

"He's so competitive, it's just fun watching him when he's down here in this environment," Crescenta Valley Coach Jan Sakonju said.

Crescenta Valley, which finished runner-up to Oaks Christian at the Division II finals on Saturday, was well-represented overall on Tuesday, with three relay teams and a total of four individual competitors in six different events.

The Division II finals ended on Saturday with Crescenta Valley chasing Oaks Christian and the Masters meet began with more of the same.

Harrison Thai, Seo, Chris Veselich and Andrew De Jong, who filled in for Jason Kim in the breaststroke, had the second-best overall mark in the 200-yard medley relay in 1:36.59, trailing the Lions' 1:35.14.

The Falcons were seeded second for the event, but earned that billing with Kim, who is also on the school's baseball team, which had a playoff game Tuesday. Sakonju tabbed De Jong as a late replacement.

"I found out [Monday] and I told Young Tae and Harrison and they were like, 'Oh man, we're gonna lose now," De Jong joked. "I said, 'Relax,' but it ended up pretty good, actually.

"We all thought we were gonna place a lot worse because Jason went a 27.02 and my best time this season is 28."

But De Jong came through with a new season best of 27.26 to go along with Thai's 24.76 in the backstroke, Seo's 23.15 in the butterfly and Veselich's 21.42 in freestyle.

"Andrew came in and did a great job," Sakonju said. "There was a lot of pressure put on him. He went in there and had a great split and these other guys, just being competitive, they went in there and put in that extra effort, too."

Thai turned in the fourth-best performance in the 100 backstroke in 52.18, but seemed to tire a bit when asked to turnaround and swim the very next event, the 100 breaststroke, in which he was 15th in 1:00.15.

Junior Josh Chi was 16th in the 200 freestyle in 1:45.47 and had the 18th-best mark (48.08) in the 100 freestyle, where Veselich had the 20th-best mark (48.20).

The Falcons' 200-freestyle relay team of Veselich, De Jong, senior Daniel Olson and Chi tied for eighth with Murrieta Valley in 1:28.04, but the 400-freestyle relay team of Veselich, Chi, Thai and Seo was disqualified for a false start.

"They just came down here to have fun and compete with the swimmers from other divisions and get good experience," Sakonju said. "For the seniors, this was a last hurrah, so they enjoyed themselves."

Glendale sophomore Mickey Mowry was third in his heat and 14th overall in the 100 butterfly in 51.98 and finished 12th in the 100 backstroke in 53.64.

Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy senior Andrea Kropp was scheduled to swim in the 200-individual medley, where she was seeded second, and the 100 breaststroke, where she was the fourth seed, but decided to pull out of the meet on Monday night, according to Tologs Coach Steve Bergen.

Senior Christina Brandt took Kropp's place in the 200-medley relay alongside freshmen Meg Ryan and Emily Balog and senior Madeline Talt to turn in a 23rd–best time of 1:57.65.

"She's been a great senior, an alternate on a lot of these teams," Bergen said of Brandt. "She's never had a chance to race [at Masters], but she got her chance today.

"It was disappointing not to have Andrea today, but it's been a great year."

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