Jumping Through Hoops for Titles

TIMES STAFF WRITER

James Jenkins didn't get a good jump off the starting blocks this season.

But he finished with a flourish to lead the Crescenta Valley High boys' swim team to third place in the Southern Section Division II championships and become The Times' Valley/Ventura County swimmer of the year.

"Especially this year, I had a hard time getting started," Jenkins said. "Early on, there was like a week and a half where I wasn't really looking forward to swimming at all. I was definitely in a funk."

Jenkins, a 6-foot-6 senior, averaged 23.2 points and 11.6 rebounds for the basketball team but was bothered by the Falcons' second-round loss in the Division I-AA playoffs.

"High school basketball was over and I was kind of depressed about that," Jenkins said. "I just wished we could have gone further, and my personal performance could have been better too."

He found satisfaction in swimming.

Jenkins won Division II championships in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events for the second consecutive season in school-record times.

Jenkins' time of 20.47 seconds in the 50 bettered the record set by older brother John Jenkins, and his time of 44.65 in the 100 bettered his own record.

"I think I was pretty much relaxed the whole time," Jenkins said. "I was just trying to take it all in and have a good time."

Besides winning two individual titles to earn 40 points for Crescenta Valley, Jenkins anchored the Falcons' 200 and 400 freestyle relays to third-place finishes in 1:28.51 and 3:15.83.

He had a hand in 104 of Crescenta Valley's 181 points, good for third place.

"He put it all together," Coach Jan Sakonju said. "Toward the end of the season, you could see there was a change in his focus. He was incredible.

"I hope I'll have a chance to coach another swimmer as good as him again in my career."

Jenkins likely has swam his last competitive race. He plans to attend San Jose State and will walk on the basketball team.

Sakonju wonders how good Jenkins could be if swimming had been his main sport.

"I think everybody wonders that," the coach said. "He has an unknown factor and just amazing natural talent."

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ALL-REGION BOYS' SWIM TEAM

Swimmer of the year

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Player School Year James Jenkins Crescenta Valley Senior

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Player School Year William Ban Crescenta Valley Senior

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Ban placed fourth in the 200-yard freestyle in 1:44.69 and was ninth in the butterfly in 53.75 in the Southern Section Division II championships. He led off the Falcons' 400 freestyle relay team that placed third (3:15.83), and he qualified for the division championships in the 500 freestyle and 200 individual medley.

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Player School Year Jeff Barrett Nordhoff Senior

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Barrett won Division IV titles in the 100 freestyle in 46.71 and the 200 freestyle in 1:42.06. He was part of Nordhoff's 400 freestyle relay that won in 3.21.23, helping the Rangers finish third in team competition.

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Player School Year Brett Brown El Camino Real Senior

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Brown won City Section titles in the 200 individual medley in 1:57.59 and 100 breaststroke in 59.45 after second-place finishes last season. He helped El Camino Real to fifth place in team competition.

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Player School Year Joey Castellani Crescenta Valley Junior

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Placed second with 488.15 points in the Division II diving championships. Castellani gave the Falcons 17 of the 35 diving points they earned toward a third-place finish in team swimming competition.

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Player School Year Brendan Everman Notre Dame Junior

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Placed fourth in the 500 freestyle in 4:39.87 and sixth in the 200 freestyle in 1:46.06 to account for all 28 of Notre Dame's points at the Division II finals.

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Player School Year Matthew Jensen Chaminade Sophomore

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Jensen placed second in the 100 butterfly in 51.56, and third in the 500 freestyle in 4:39.50 in the Division II finals. He won the 500 and was second in the butterfly at the Royal Invitational.

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Player School Year Mike Linn Hart Junior

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Linn was the only swimmer to beat Jenkins this year, edging him by .01 of a second with a time of 21.40 in the 50 freestyle in a nonleague dual meet. Linn placed second to Jenkins in the 50 and 100 freestyle in the Division II finals. He helped the Indians win the Foothill League title and place fourth in Division II.

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Player School Year Justin McClure Royal Senior

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A four-year varsity swimmer, McClure placed sixth in the 200 freestyle in 1:44.24 and eighth in the 100 backstroke in 53.42 in the Division I championships. He won Marmonte League titles in the 200 freestyle and 100 backstroke, and anchored the Highlanders' 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays.

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Player School Year Peter McVey Quartz Hill Junior

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McVey placed third in the 200 individual medley in 1:57.51 and 100 breaststroke in 1:00.85 in the Division IV championships. He won the 100 breaststroke in the Royal Invitational.

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Player School Year Steven Park Granada Hills Freshman

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Park won the City Section title in the 50 freestyle in 22.74 and placed second in the 100 breaststroke in 1:00.49 behind Brown to help the Highlanders win their first City team championship.

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Player School Year Keun Rhee Kennedy Junior

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A transfer from New York, Rhee was the only swimmer from the region besides Brown to win two City titles, the 100 in 48.64 and the 200 freestyle in 1:46.15.

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