The 2013 season got underway March 1 on a winning note for the Laguna Beach High boys' and girls' swim teams.
The Laguna boys defeated Pacifica, 107-63, and the girls' team scored a 130-39 win over the Mariners.
In the girls' win, Makenzie Fischer won the 200-yard and 100 freestyle events and teamed with Lexi Del Toro, MacKenzie Baldridge and Sydney Saxe, to win both the 200 and 400 free relays. Saxe won the 50 free, Del Toro the 100 breaststroke, Abby Cohn both the 200 individual medley and 100 backstroke, Natalie Selin won the 100 butterfly, and Kirra Nash won the 500 free.
Event winners for the Laguna boys were Jack Dodson (200 free), Trent Sadler (200 IM), Cade Baldridge (50 free), Rian Atherton (100 butterfly), Trevor Collins (500 free) and Nolan Del Toro (100 backstroke).
Fifth-year head coach Kari Johnson has several outstanding returnees from a strong 2012 squad, a year in which the girls' team captured its fifth-straight Orange Coast League title, and the boys' team won the OCL title for the fourth consecutive time. The season ended with the boys' finishing runner-up to the CIF Southern Section Division 3 title, and the girls finished third at the finals meet.
Among the key performers back are senior Lexi Del Toro (CIF, 200 freestyle, 100 free, 100 breaststroke, Sr.); Lila Vera (CIF, 100 butterfly, 100 backstroke, 100 free, Jr.); Makenzie Fischer (CIF, 200 free, 100 free, 50 free, 100 breast, Soph.); Cade Baldridge (CIF, 50 free, 100 free, Soph.); Riley Thomas (CIF, 50 free, 100 free, Sr.), and Erik Juliusson (CIF, 500 free, 100 back, Soph.).
Vera won the OCL title last year in the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke while Juliusson took league in the 500 free and 100 backstroke.
"We have a strong team this year on both sides," Johnson said. "We are expecting to win league and hoping to win CIF on both sides. The boys have a CIF championship within their reach. The girls have the potential to win CIF, as well, but it won't be an easy road."
Laguna will compete Friday at the Los Alamitos Relays. The event starts at 2 p.m. at Los Alamitos High. The Breakers won't compete again until they launch their OCL season March 20 with a 3:15 p.m. meet at Costa Mesa.
The Breakers ran their record to 3-1 and in the process won their third game at the Newport Elks Tournament on Wednesday by defeating host Cerritos Valley Christian, 6-2.
Sophomore Grant Wilhelm went three for three, drove in a run and scored twice, senior Blake Hester went two for two with a run batted in, and senior Jackson Rees had a hit and drove in two runs for the Breakers. Senior Larry Stewart threw five innings and gave up one hit, one earned run and struck out two, to get the win. Junior Richie Nunis closed and didn't allow a hit or run in the final two innings.
Laguna started tournament play Feb. 28 and scored an 11-2 win over Jurupa Valley. Rees struck out six and registered the pitching win. In their second tournament game, junior Steven Harrison homered and Wilhelm struck out eight in a complete-game performance, in a 3-1 loss Saturday to Segerstrom.
Harrison also homered and senior Kurt Rebone tossed a complete-game victory, in a 5-4 win Monday over Troy.
"We are pitching well and playing solid defense which is keeping us in games," Laguna Coach Mike Bair said. "I think our offense is ready to step up and be a bigger factor for us in these final games of the tournament."
Laguna closes out tournament play Friday at home against Westminster at 3 p.m. Next week, the Breakers play host to San Juan Hills in a nonleague doubleheader starting at 1 p.m. Tuesday.
Injuries have hampered the Breakers in recent match play.
Laguna's No. 1 singles player, Teague Hamilton, is out for two weeks due to shoulder and wrist injuries. Zach Pratto, who plays both singles and doubles, sprained his ankle against Mater Dei in a nonleague match the Breakers dropped, 14-4, Wednesday.
Laguna started its work week Tuesday with a nonleague match at Mission Viejo. Morgan Lebby posted three singles wins (6-2 6-0, 6-1) and the Breakers' No. 1 doubles team of Ryan Gee and Oliver Nasiell (6-4, 2-6, 7-6), and No. 2 team of Owen Weber and Alex Duong (6-1, 0-6, 7-6) both earned two points but the Diablos scored an 11-7 win.
Lebby won two of three in singles (4-6, 6-3, 6-1) in Wednesday's loss to Mater Dei. Noah Radach won one set in singles and Gee/Nasiell won one set in doubles.
In a Feb. 26 match against Crean Lutheran at the Costa Mesa Tennis Center, the Breakers fell to the Saints, 11-7. Hamilton won his three matches, 6-3, 6-4, 6-0. Gee/Weber won two of three matches (2-6, 6-1, 6-3). Lebby, at No. 2 singles, and Duong/Pratto, at No. 2 doubles, also won points for the Breakers.
On Feb. 28, Laguna fell, 16-2, to Corona del Mar. Hamilton (4-6, 7-5, 6-0) picked up both points for Laguna.
Laguna begins defense of its Orange Coast League title Tuesday at home against Saddleback at 3 p.m. The Breakers follow up with another league game at 3 p.m. Thursday at Estancia.
Taking on its second CIF Southern Section Division 1 opponent in as many starts, the Breakers scored a stirring, 27-25, 26-24, 25-17 victory over rival Newport Harbor on the Sailors' home court. The win marked the first time since 1997 that a Laguna team has defeated Newport in a best-of-five match.
Senior outside hitter Weston Barnes had 17 kills, senior setter Grifan Fair 28 assists and junior outside hitter Jack Wyett had two aces for the Breakers, who are ranked fourth in CIF Southern Section Division 2.
Laguna had opened its season Feb. 26 with a four-set win against Edison.
"This was a big win for us," Laguna Coach Scott Panaro said. "The first two games could have gone either way and it was nice to see us win a few key points late in those games. The boys showed mental toughness and handled the pressure of a tough road match well."
The Breakers held a 22-19 lead in the second set, but committed a few hitting errors and, combined with strong defensive play by Newport, surrendered the lead to the Sailors. The Breakers had to fend off game point, and rallied back for a key, 26-24 win.
"The boys maintained their composure and confidence while showing a killer instinct by capitalizing on opportunities to win Game Two and to jump out early in Game Three," Panaro said. "We finished the match with a strong blocking performance and tough serving.
"As a team we passed great. This allowed Grifan [Fair] to distribute the ball to all our hitters, making us difficult to defend. I am very proud of the boys and their performance. The important thing for us is to be proud, but not be satisfied with the win. We need to use this week, with no matches, to get better. We are off to a good start, but have a long way to go still to accomplish our goals."
The Breakers return to the court Wednesday for a 6:15 p.m. nonleague match at San Clemente. The Tritons, ranked No. 6 in Division 1, swept Edison Tuesday.