Leading the field by a slight margin heading into the final event of the Southern Section 2-A Division swimming and diving championships Saturday, Agoura High was in the worst possible position--and one it could do nothing about.
Agoura failed to qualify a team for the 400-freestyle relay, and the Chargers watched in dismay as three teams passed them in the standings in the meet at Belmont Plaza in Long Beach.
Agoura placed fourth with 79 points, behind co-champions San Luis Obispo and Woodbridge, which each finished with 82 points, and Laguna Hills, which scored 81 points.
Agoura Coach Mike Mulligan, whose team was undefeated in five Frontier League dual meets and 9-3 overall, was rather calm for the last race, the unfortunate circumstances notwithstanding.
“It didn’t bother me really,” he said. “I just sat down and enjoyed the race.”
The Chargers came as close as they did behind a first-place finish in the 200-yard medley relay and banner days for sophomores Jason Stelle and Tyler Cadham.
Stelle won the 100-yard backstroke in a 2-A record time of 51.93, placed seventh in the 200-yard individual medley (1:56.58) and was a member of the 200-medley relay. Cadham, also a medley-relay participant, was fourth in the 200-yard individual medley (1:56.99) and second in the 100-yard breaststroke.
The breaststroke came down to Cadham and Calabasas’ Mike Litter, who have swum together for Class Aquatics swim club for nearly three years.
Litter beat Cadham in four previous meetings this season and proved the better again by touching out Cadham by 11 one-hundredths of a second. Litter’s victory cost Agoura three points in the team standings--the eventual margin of victory for San Luis Obispo and Woodbridge.
“The way he swims, he doesn’t come back at the end,” Cadham said. “This time he did it and he nailed me.
“All I was trying to do was win it for the team.”
Calabasas, paced by Litter’s win in the breaststroke and his fifth-place showing in the 100-yard butterfly (53.27), placed sixth with 72 points.
Litter was especially pleased with his breaststroke performance.
“I knew it was going to be me and Tyler,” he said. “I just wanted to beat him. I didn’t care what my time was.
“Underwater, I could see he was there. We looked even.”
Harvard’s Mike Chang, a junior and the favorite entering the 100-yard butterfly, won the event with a personal-best time of 51.60.
“I did exactly what my coach, Rich Corso, said,” Chang said. “He told me to go out hard and come back with everything you got left.”
After posting a 23.6, or one-tenth of a second slower than his target time after 50 yards, Chang pulled away in the final 50.
“I was surprised,” he said, “because I thought I would die in the fourth lap.”
Chang was Harvard’s only victorious swimmer. The Saracens, San Fernando Valley League champions, scored 49 points, good for 10th place.
In the 2-A girls’ championships, Agoura placed highest among Valley-area teams with 34 points. Trabuco Hills totaled 173 points to run away with the team title. Mater Dei finished second with 79.
Olympic gold medalist Janet Evans of El Dorado highlighted the 3-A meet when she swam a national high school record 1:59.96 in the 200-yard individual medley. She later won the 500-yard freestyle in 4:38.34, which was 1.4 seconds slower than her own national high school record.
In other girls’ events, Hart placed fourth in the 200-yard medley relay (Tiffany Leigh, Carey Lepler, Shelly Blowers, Evy Wild) at 1:57.92, Burbank’s Denise Lamoureaux was fifth in the 200-yard freestyle (1:57.61) and Mary Ellen Jenkins of Crescenta Valley was fourth in the 200-yard individual medley (2:10.53) and sixth in the 100-yard butterfly (1:01.13).
In the 100-yard freestyle, Hart’s Wild was second (53.85) and Lamoureaux was sixth (55.03).
Hart was eighth in the team standings, 151 points behind 3-A champion Los Altos.
Among the boys’ competitors, Burbank’s Casey Grigg led the 200-yard individual medley for most of the race but was touched out by Daizo Mitsouka of Damien. Grigg was timed in 1:55.25, just ahead of Hart’s Blair Cannon (1:55.69). Grigg was sixth in the 500-yard freestyle (4:47.80).
Cannon added a second in the 100 breaststroke (59.43), and Johann Perora of Crespi was sixth (1:01.43) in the same race.
Hart, whose 400-yard freestyle relay team placed second (3:11.70), finished with 68 points for seventh place.