It was Bo Mattix and Brandon Nguyen who led the La Cañada High boys’ swimming team to an impressive sixth-place showing in CIF Southern Section Division I last year.
With Mattix now swimming at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Nguyen, now a senior, and a group of returners with another year under their belts will look to at least match 2012 in CIF.
“We are hoping to stay in the top six, but that’s going to be hard without Bo,” La Cañada Coach Art Lopez said.
Nguyen was key in CIF last year, as he took fourth in the 200-yard individual medley, 11th in the 100 breaststroke and helped the 200-medley and 400-freestyle relay teams take fourth and ninth, respectively.
Lopez raved about the depth his team possesses this season. The Spartans will look to win their 12th straight Rio Hondo League title after a relatively easy undefeated 5-0 league run last year.
“San Marino’s the main one this year,” Lopez said of this year’s top contender. “It’s always San Marino and us.”
As seemingly is always the case, the Spartans should be strong in their relays, returning at least three members of each team.
Juniors and members of the CIF 200-medley and 400 relay teams, Garrett Chin (100 backstroke, 100 butterfly, 200 individual medley) and Peter Loakes (50 free) both return. Loakes was also a member of the 200-freestyle relay group in CIF, along with returning senior Symeon Stefan (100 butterfly) and junior Shane Bell.
Other returners poised to have a big impact this season are sophomores Dane Bell (200 and 500 freestyle) and Stephen Kim.
Lopez is hoping for a total team effort this season at CIF with several swimmers pushing into the CIF finals who didn’t last year and others improving on last year’s finishes to make up for the points they’ll miss from Mattix’s two top-eight places at CIF last year.
“We need some guys to place in the top 16 to at least get some of those points back,” Lopez said. “We’ll hopefully stay in the top six or top 10 at least, without Bo being there. Hopefully, we’ll even place a little bit higher this year.”
Flintridge Prep is gearing up for another run at a Prep League title after it slipped from second to third late in the 2012 league championship meet.
Rebels Coach Ryan Goto is very optimistic about this year, as he returns most of his lineup with some improving and a new impact swimmer in the mix.
“We are definitely a lot stronger than we were last year,” Goto said. “The confidence from last year carried over and now I think we have a pretty solid team.”
Leading the pack is senior Bruce Park, who swam the 100 free, 100 butterfly and relays last year. Marco Flores, the league champion in the 500 free and 200 individual medley in 2012, highlights a group of returning juniors with Kevin Chang, Kevin Park, William Newman and Carlo Sivilotti also standing to have a big impact this year.
Goto is also welcoming a new face in sophomore David Shin, who specializes in the breaststroke, to the team.
“The boys have a lot of depth and we have the numbers this year, as well,” Goto said. “I think our numbers are going to swell as the weeks go on.”