Local teams expect success

Jeff Tully

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

this season.

“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

beat Hart.”