The Laguna Beach boys' and girls' swimming teams nearly rose to the top of the Division 3 ladder at the CIF Southern Section Swimming and Division Championships at Riverside Community College.
The Laguna boys' team finished runner-up May 10 behind champion Mark Keppel of Alhambra. On the girls' side, Laguna placed third behind champion Mark Keppel and second-place La Serna of Whittier.
"I am very proud of what our teams accomplished this year," Laguna Coach Kari Johnson said. "We had the best combined finish at CIF in our school's history. Every member of our team did an excellent job. We all did our best and it paid off."
The Laguna boys' team won CIF Division 3 titles on two fronts. The Breakers' 200-meter relay team of freshman Erik Juliusson, junior Caleb Scott and seniors Billy Wild and Erik Henrikson won the event in a school-record time of 1 minute 37.82 seconds. Wild also won the 100 butterfly in 51.66 to set a school record, which he previously held.
Other school-record times were set at the finals by the Breakers. Juliusson did it in both the 500 freestyle and 100 backstroke, and also as part of the boys' 400 freestyle relay team. His time of 4:43.59 earned him a third-place finish in the 500 free. He went 51.84 in the 100 backstroke and was in second place. Juliusson had set the school record for both events just a week prior at the Orange Coast League finals.
The boys' 400 freestyle relay team of Wild, junior Riley Thomas, freshman Cade Baldridge and Juliusson swam a 3:17.67 to establish a school mark. The girls' 200 medley relay team of sophomore Lila Vera, junior Lexi Del Toro and seniors Yoshi Andersen and Melena Masson set a school standard at 1:52.23.
Track and Field
Three Laguna Beach athletes advanced to the CIF Southern Section Division 4 finals Saturday at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut.
Natasha Strickland (girls' 1,600 meters), Spencer Anderson (boys' 110 hurdles) and Ricky Delatorre (shot put) all qualified after competing Saturday at the prelims at Carpinteria High.
The finals start at 11 a.m. with field events. Running events start at 1 p.m. The following times have been set for the Division 4 events that include Laguna athletes: shot put (11 a.m.); girls' 1,600 (1:35 p.m.); boys' 110 hurdles (2:40 p.m.).
The top 12 performances (all divisions combined) in the boys' and girls' 800, 1,600, 3,200 and all field events will advance to the upcoming CIF Masters Meet on May 26. The top nine performers in all other boys' and girls' events also move on to the Masters Meet.
Orange Coast League champion Laguna won its first two matches in the CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoffs, but Saturday their title bid came to an end following a quarterfinal loss at West Ranch of Valencia. The host Wildcats (23-9) held off the third-ranked Breakers for a 16-25, 26-24, 25-23, 25-23 victory.
Weston Barnes had 17 kills and eight digs, Jackson Pries 13 kills, Austin Hilleman 10 kills and 10 digs, and Jack Winn (26) and Grifan Fair (16) combined for 42 assists for the Breakers, who finished 22-9 in Scott Panaro's first year as head coach.
It was the 16th straight quarterfinal appearance for Laguna.
West Ranch, the No. 2 team from the Foothill League, was swept Tuesday in the semifinals by No. 2-seed Corona del Mar. The Sea Kings will play top-ranked Oak Park in Saturday's division final at Cypress College.
"This was a heartbreaking loss," Panaro said. "We fought hard but came up short. I am proud of how hard my guys competed."
"I give West Ranch all the credit. They beat us. We came out on fire, playing with lots of confidence and won game one without too much opposition. But I knew West Ranch was capable of more than they showed us in game one."
Laguna held a 19-13 lead in the second game when the momentum changed.
"We mentally let up, missing four serves, losing control of the match, and West Ranch seized the opportunity and got their crowd into it. Once they had the momentum, their level of play increased dramatically and they played with a lot of confidence."
A couple of hitting errors also cost the Breakers in the third game and put them at a 2-1 deficit.
"In between games three and four, I took the guys outside the gym to change the environment for a minute and allow us to regroup," said Panaro, whose squad responded to the pep talk by taking a 7-0 lead in the fourth game. However, West Ranch used strong defensive play to get back into the game.
"We were unable to score when we had our chances, and West Ranch did," Panaro said. "The combination of being a young team and playing on the road in a hostile environment was too much for us to overcome. I hope our younger players learned from this experience and use this as fuel for next season."
Laguna had advanced to the quarterfinals by disposing of visiting Santiago (23-6) of Corona, 25-19, 25-18, 25-21, on May 10.
The second-ranked Breakers advanced to the quarterfinal round of the CIF Southern Section Division 4 playoffs, where they were edged Tuesday by La Quinta of Westminster (Garden Grove League No. 2), 10-8. Teague Hamilton and Morgan Lebby swept at Nos. 1 and 2 singles, respectively, for Laguna. In doubles play, No. 1 Austin Loomis/Oliver Nassiel and the No. 2 team of Jared Boetes/Casey Kimball each had single wins.
Orange Coast League champion Laguna reached the quarterfinals in Don Davis' first year as head coach by knocking off Oak Hills, 11-7, on May 11.
Hamilton and Lebby, who played each other in the league's singles tournament final two weeks ago, and the doubles team of Kimball and Andrew Koumas, will compete Friday at the CIF Individuals tournament.
Laguna senior Tim Peterson shot a 77 Monday at the CIF Southern Individual Regional tournament at Skylinks Golf Course in Long Beach. Peterson missed the cut by just three shots. He was the lone Breaker to qualify for the tournament.
"Tim's contribution to our team has been incredible," Laguna Coach Scott Finn said. "He has filled the shoes of the great golfers that have come before him and has mentored and influenced the younger guys to become better golfers and individuals. He will be greatly missed."