The Newport Harbor High boys’ and girls’ swim teams were not overly competitive Thursday in their final Surf League dual meet against visiting Los Alamitos.
The Sailors know that they can still win the league, however, with a first-place performance next week at league finals.
Los Alamitos, which won the Sunset League last year in both genders, has other ideas.
The Griffins finished 3-0 in Surf League dual meets in both genders after sweeping Newport Harbor. Los Alamitos’ girls earned a 116-51 victory, while the boys were victorious by a 116-54 score.
“I thought we swam well,” Newport Harbor coach Ross Sinclair said. “We’re coming off of spring break, so that was kind of tough. Then having two meets this week is different [after swimming at Fountain Valley on Tuesday]. We’re still in a position, if we win league [finals] next week then we win [league]. We’ll see.”
Sinclair said two of his varsity swimmers, juniors Reed Stemler and Tommy Kennedy, missed the meet as they were on recruiting trips for water polo. Additionally, many of the seniors swam off events in their last home meet, he said.
Los Alamitos’ boys dominated Newport Harbor (2-1 in league), winning all three relays and seven of the eight individual events.
Newport Harbor senior Makana Sanita prevented the sweep, as he won the 100-yard freestyle in 48.82 seconds, out-touching Los Alamitos’ Sullivan Moore. Moore won the 50 free in 21.94, with Sanita in second place in 22.54.
“I felt pretty good about how I swam today,” said Sanita, headed to Long Beach State for water polo. “[League finals are] going to be a grind. I don’t know if we’ll get it again this year, but we’re definitely going to try. We just don’t have a lot of stroke swimmers this year. That’s what [the Griffins] had a lot of today.”
Other second-place finishers for the Newport Harbor boys included junior Makoto Kenney in the 200 freestyle (1:50.82), junior Justin Boals in the 500 free (5:06.39), junior Adam Faludi in the backstroke (59.84) and senior Jonny Rimlinger in the breaststroke (1:04.37).
Newport Harbor’s girls were without the services of senior twin standouts Ayla and Zoe Spitz for much of the meet. They had to leave for a club practice after they finished one-two in the 200 freestyle. Ayla touched first in 1:50.02, followed by Zoe in 1:55.02.
The twins, along with freshman Taylor Smith and junior Carly Yasko, also helped Newport Harbor win the meet-opening 200 medley relay in 1:49.30.
Newport Harbor’s girls (1-1-1 in league) tied at Fountain Valley on Tuesday. They are aiming for a big postseason after finishing fourth at the CIF Southern Section Division 1 finals last year, despite only having four swimmers and despite Yasko battling a 103-degree fever at that meet.
“It’s still exciting that even with something like that going on, that we still did so well,” said Yasko, who placed third in the 50 free and 100 free on Thursday. ”I think that just says that this year, we can do even better.”
Smith was another strong individual performer, placing second in the 100 free (55.71) and third in the breaststroke (1:11.77).
Los Alamitos girls’ coach Dave Carlson has his team ready to repeat as league champion, but he knows the competition will be tough. The Surf League has preliminaries Wednesday and finals April 26 at Golden West College, starting at noon on both days.
“I know that we’re going to swim fast,” Carlson said. “The thing is, the league is fast. The first-place points are big, and the Spitz sisters are going to score big-time points. Fountain Valley’s got Hannah Farrow, Corona del Mar’s got [Michelle] Tekawy and Karsyn Cook. Our strength is in our depth. We’ve got a lot of really fast club swimmers, so hopefully that pays off.”