RIVERSIDE – Crowning an overall team champion was the principle item on the agenda at the CIF Southern Section Division 1 Swimming and Diving Championships Saturday night at Riverside Community College.
But Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy started the meet with its attention focused on the defense of a different team title – the 200-yard medley relay -- and didn’t have to wait long to get to it.
“Ever since last year, we had the confidence going in because we were able to win it last year,” sophomore freestyler Kate Herrill said. “We knew we would race it similarly to last year and each leg would get a little faster.”
The Tologs opened the evening with a bang, winning the medley relay for the second straight year in 1 minute 44.38 seconds behind the efforts of freshman Christina Campbell (27.89 split) in backstroke, Kristen Vose (28.54), a junior, in breaststroke, senior Katie Altmayer (22.98) in butterfly and Herrill (22.98) in freestyle.
“It was amazing; we got off to a great start with that,” Vose said. “Christina did amazing [in leadoff]. After the race was over it was just really exciting that we won a second year in a row and it got us all pumped for the next races to come.”
Added Herrill: “It was great to win it again and keep that title.”
The win paced an overall sixth-place team showing, up one spot from last season, as the Tologs finished with 149 points and came within a few more of edging Corona del Mar (151.5) for fifth.
Santa Margarita won the team title.
“As far as moving up to sixth this year, it was great,” Tologs Coach Steve Bergen said. “The kids did everything we asked and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Sacred Heart came .14 seconds from winning a second relay title when Santa Margarita’s Kathryn McLaughlin out-touched Vose on the anchor leg to win the 200 freestyle relay in 1:34.64.
“The girls were disappointed at first, but three of the four did lifetime bests,” Bergen said in reference to personal-best splits from Altmayer (24.00), Campbell (24.34) and Vose (22.76), with the latter being a school record by a second and a half.
While not a personal-best, Herrill’s 23.68 split to lead off the race was the second-fastest of the team.
“We all did amazing times and had great starts and everything, we just couldn’t hold [McLaughlin] off at the end,’ Vose said. “You win some, you lose some. Just have the best race that you can.”
Vose was the No. 1 seed in the 200-individual medley, where she finished in second place .95 seconds behind Nikol Popov of Valencia Valencia.
Vose’s runner-up finish in the 200 IM, along with Herrill’s fifth-place finish in the 50 freestyle in 23.65 and a ninth-place consolation-heat swim from Altmayer in the 200 freestyle in 1:55.45 had Sacred Heart sitting in third with 80 points – 14 behind front-runner JSerra – after the first eight events.
Sacred Heart was in fifth following the 200-freestyle relay, but had just one more event on its slate to try and make a push further up the standings. Vose and Herrill finished fifth (1:03.51) and ninth (1:05.83), respectively, in the 100 breaststroke to close the meet for the Tologs. It was an event in which Vose came in as the defending champion.
Altmayer also turned in a seventh-place finish in the consolation finals of the 100 butterfly in 57.46.
La Cañada saw a pair of seniors close out their CIF careers in Samantha Campbell and Garrett Chin, who were both double finalists.
Campbell placed ninth in the 200 freestyle in 1:54.90 and 18th in the 500 freestyle in 5:08.97.
“She was doing really good at prelims; she broke school records and had her best personal times,” La Canada girls’ Coach Renata Martinez said. “I think maybe a little of the pressure caught up to her today. She was really disappointed about it, so there’s something to work on.”
Chin finished seventh in the 200 IM in 1:50.40 and ninth in the 100 backstroke in 50.54, while junior teammate Dane Bell scored a fifth-place finish in the 500 freestyle in 4:30.75.
Peter Loakes placed seventh in the consolation heat of the 50 freestyle in 21.65 for La Cañada.
Dane Bell, Shane Bell, Chin and Loakes took fifth in the consolation championship of the 200-medley relay in 1:36.27 and closed the show by finishing sixth in the consolation championship of the 400-freestyle relay in 3:09.76.
“They did a great job; there’s great competition here from the Orange County schools,” said Spartans boys’ Coach Art Lopez, whose team finished 17th with 62.5 points. “I’m very proud of our boys. We’re a small school, but we fought hard.”