Laguna Beach swimming sweeps Costa Mesa

The Laguna Beach High boys’ swimming team is not used to losing to Costa Mesa, but the Breakers almost did twice last year.

The Mustangs beat the Breakers in the teams’ Orange Coast League dual meet in 2017. At league finals, it took a win in the meet-ending 400-yard freestyle relay for Laguna Beach’s boys to secure their ninth straight league title.

These memories are fresh in the minds of many of the Breakers’ returners. On Wednesday, they showed that they should be considered the favorite to extend to their reign in the Orange Coast League before joining the Sunset League next season.

Host Laguna Beach pulled away late to beat Costa Mesa 96.5-73.5 and improve to 2-0 in league dual meets. The Breakers girls did the same after earning an easy 140-27 victory.

Costa Mesa’s boys (1-1 in league) touched first in five of eight individual events and two of three relays, but the depth shined through for coach Kari Damato’s Breakers. They placed first and second in the meet-opening 200 medley relay, giving Laguna Beach a 12-2 advantage that it wouldn’t relinquish.

Riley Bumgardner, Caden Capobianco, Zachary Cord and Will Clark touched first in 1 minute, 56.13 seconds, followed by teammates Toby Bumgardner, Charlie Besso, Luke Teeple and John Ford in 2:01.91.

“I think we did well,” said Capobianco, a sophomore who won the 100 breaststroke in a season-best 1:09.41 and finished second in the 200 IM in 2:14.99. “This is our last year in this league, so we kind of want to go out strong.”

Colton Gregory, a junior water polo player who didn’t swim for Laguna Beach last year, won the 100 free (51.62 seconds) and took second in the 200 free (1:56.74). Sophomore James Nolan, who was third in both the 200 IM and 50 free, is another polo player who didn’t swim a year ago.

Laguna Beach led by just five points after Costa Mesa’s Augie Cunningham, Will Harrington, Anthony Shin and Aidan Blair won the 200 free relay in 1:34.95. But the Breakers’ Cord (1:03.38) Teeple and Ford swept the top three spots in the next event, the backstroke. Capobianco, Keller Kramer and Toby Bumgardner then did the same in the breaststroke, opening a big lead before Costa Mesa’s Cunningham, Grant Dittemore, Shin and Blair won the 400 free relay in 3:32.68.

Cunningham won the 200 free (1:51.44) and 500 free (5:07.45) for Costa Mesa. Blair was the other double-winner, in the 200 IM (2:03.19) and the butterfly (55.04).

“We don’t have the depth of senior leadership that we had last year,” said Costa Mesa coach Tim Postiff, who added that many of his boys’ swimmers nevertheless posted their best times Wednesday. “I like swimming against Laguna because it forces our kids to do better.”

Laguna Beach’s girls swept the top three spots in every individual event and the top two spots in every relay to beat Costa Mesa (1-1 in league). Double individual winners included senior Kasey Karkoska in the 50 free (24.83) and the 100 free (53.88), while freshman Molly Renner won the 200 free in 1:58.84 and the 500 free in 5:16.90. Another freshman, Jessie Rose, won the 200 IM (2:17.30) and the 100 backstroke (1:05.00).

Claire Kelly and Gabrielle Denny also earned a pair of top-two finishes. Denny won the butterfly and was second in the 200 free, while Kelly won the 200 IM and was second in the 500 free. Kyla Whitelock was second in the 50 and 100 free.

Damato said that Renner has been a versatile weapon for the Breakers. Last week in a win over Calvary Chapel, she won the butterfly.

Costa Mesa hosts Katella in a nonleague meet on Thursday, while Laguna Beach returns to action on March 28 with a league meet at Saddleback.

Twitter: @mjszabo