RIVERSIDE -- With nearly all the big names that made Crescenta Valley High boys’ swimming a perennial CIF Southern Section Division II power in recent years now graduated, it remained to be seen just how much punch the Falcons had left for this year’s finals.
While no longer the talk of the meet, Crescenta Valley showed it still has a place in the top-10 conversation, finishing seventh with 129 points Saturday in the Division II Swimming and Diving Championships at Riverside Community College.
Murrieta Valley and Lakewood tied for fifth with 156 points, but just seven points separated the Falcons from ninth place.
“I’m very happy with today’s results; the goal was to get into the top 10,” said veteran Falcons Coach Jan Sakonju, whose program won the Division II crown in 2012 and finished in the top three each of the seasons before and after the championship. “With the talent that we had, I knew we had a legitimate shot that we could do that. Finishing in the top 10 and being seventh I’m very happy.”
Other members of the Falcons fold took more of a glass-half-empty point of view.
“We used to be first place, but we dropped all the way to seventh, so I don’t think we made a huge impression,” Crescenta Valley junior Edward Yi said.
Yi became the Falcons’ premiere swimmer this year with the departure of program legends Young Tae Seo and Harrison Thai last spring.
“He’s been in the shadow of the big two for the last couple years and it was nice to see him be the leader,” Sakonju said.
Yi was the top scorer for the Falcons on Saturday, finishing third in the 100-yard butterfly (50.65 seconds) and sixth in the 200 freestyle (1:42.68), while also helping the Falcons’ 200-medley and 400-freestyle relays finish ninth and fourth, respectively.
“I was expecting to go faster, but I just couldn’t pull it out,” Yi said of his individual swims.
But the top local individual performance of the day came from Crescenta Valley sophomore Heather MacDougall, who scored a runner-up finish in the 100 freestyle (50.95) and a third-place showing in the 200 freestyle (1:50.25) to lead a small Falcons girls’ contingent to a 15th-place team finish.
“I’m pretty happy with what I did; it’s just a fun meet,” said MacDougall, who was the defending champion in the 100 freestyle, where she was dethroned by Ayala’s Kenisha Liu by .48 of a second. “Surprisingly, [defending the title] didn’t [put extra pressure on me] before the race. I was pretty bummed, but I’m pretty proud of Kenisha for winning. She’s a great competitor and a really good friend.”
MacDougall also teamed with junior Iva Icheva and freshmen Genevieve Gonzalez and Samantha Kohn to place seventh in the 200-freestyle relay in 1:41.25.
“The girls came out and swam great today,” Crescenta Valley girls’ Coach Brent Danna said. “We had some time drops and it was real difficult because most of our swimmers tapered for [Pacific] League [finals]. I was overall really impressed with the effort.”
Sophomore Eddie Gallehugh also scored some key points for the Falcons boys in placing seventh in the 50 freestyle in 21.93. Gallehugh teamed with Yi, junior Eric Park and sophomore Hyunsung Kim on the 400-freestyle relay (3:13.06) and the 200 IM relay (1:40.42).