The local swimming coaches realize because Hart High has such
dominating boys’ and girls’ programs, Burbank and Burroughs will
always play second fiddle to the Santa Clarita school.
“Every year, Hart seems to have good teams,” said Burroughs Coach
David Cohen, whose boys’ squad finished second to Hart in 2002. “They
always have good swimmers and they are tough to beat.”
The Foothill League teams are also put into a tough position this
season, making the move up to CIF Southern Section Division I.
“Division I is real tough,” Cohen said. “But I think we have some
swimmers who will be able to qualify for CIF.”
Here is a look at how the season is shaping up:
The boys’ team isn’t likely to be as powerful as last season, but
the Indians should have their share of talent.
Burroughs’ top performer is senior Matt Alberti, a three-time
postseason qualifier. Alberti will swim the 200-yard individual
medley and the 100 backstroke.
“Matt just needs to shave a couple of seconds off his times and he
will qualify for the Division I standard,” Cohen said.
Another strong contender is senior Chris Garcia, who was a CIF
qualifier last season in two relay events.
Cohen said he also has a crop of six freshmen who could all
On the girls’ side, three juniors lead the way. Caitlin Howison
will swim the 200 and 500 freestyle races, Valeria Dutra is a
sprinter and butterflyer and Jessica Nichols will compete in the
breaststroke. Nichols is also the team’s captain.
Sophomore Sandy Rolph, a sprinter and breaststroker, should give
some depth to a team that finished fourth in league last season.
Cohen said his best female athlete hasn’t even tried out for the
“We have a great freshman who is a Junior National swimmer and she
works out with Rose Bowl [Aquatics],” he said.
“But she hasn’t come out for the team, so I don’t want to mention
her. But she is a great athlete who could really help us.”
Under the direction of Coach Melissa Simmons, the Bulldogs should
have their share of talented athletes.
The team will get a boost from a crop of successful girls’ and
boys’ water polo players, as both teams finished third in league.
“On the boys’ side, we have a real good group of swimmers this
year,” Simmons said. “Not only do we have talent, but for the first
time, we actually have some numbers.”
Leading the way is boys’ water polo standout Eric Davis -- a
junior -- who will compete in the 50 and 100 freestyle events.
Two other athletes who should make an impact are seniors Igi
Pagliaro and Mike Nelson -- both sprinters -- who along with Davis,
were on the team’s relay teams last season.
Simmons said she has also been impressed with a pair of freshmen,
Soo Ho Park and Armen Assadourian, who can both swim a variety of
For the girls, senior Brisa Sandoval should see a lot of time in
the pool in the mid-distance events and the 100 butterfly.
While sophomore Stacy Hishinuma will swim the 200 freestyle and
the 100 backstroke, sophomore Catalina Casas will compete in the
sprints and the 100 butterfly.
“Last season, Stacy was I think one-tenth of a second off of
setting a 15-year-old school record in the 100 backstroke,” Simmons
said. “We are looking for her to get faster this year.”
Newcomers Vanessa Ortiz in the sprint and freestyle events and
junior Jennifer Austin in the freestyle and backstroke races could
give the Bulldogs some depth.
In the girls’ league race, Simmons said there might be a surprise
“I really think Saugus will give Hart a run for their money,” she
“Saugus has been improving, and this may be the year they can