For the third year in a row, the Newport Hills Killer Whales captured the South Coast Swim Conference Championships, and put the additional asterisk on a season that included the fifth undefeated season in a row in league competition, as well as the third consecutive relays meet crown.
The SCSC held its finals July 30 at Corona del Mar High, with all six teams from the conference participating – the Greenbrook Gators and Green Valley Dolphins from Fountain Valley, the Lake Forest II Dolphins, the Pacific Sands Penguins from Huntington Beach and the Harbor View Dolphins and Newport Hills Killer Whales from Corona del Mar.
Killer Whale Head Coach Michelle Sperling reiterated that it takes great team depth to win a finals meet that includes six teams, and the numbers certainly support her point. Of the 24 relay events, the Killer Whales earned eight first-place wins and seven second-place finishes.
In the individual events, Newport Hills swimmers earned 20 individual first-place wins, 17 second-place finishes, 13 third-place swims and 13 fourth-place efforts.
In age-group division scores, the Killer Whales garnered the most points among the six teams in the under-6 girls, the under-6 boys, the 9-10 girls, the 9-10 boys and the 11-12 boys.
The 161 points earned by the 9-10 girls and the 151 points put up by the 9-10 boys, were both the highest point totals of any of the individual winning age groups.
Newport Hills had two swimmers that grabbed the first-place blue ribbon in three individual events.
In the 15-18 girls, Audrey Light won the 100-yard freestyle, the 50 breaststroke and the 100 individual medley, and in the 13-14 boys, Danny Robertson took first place in the 100 free, the 50 breaststroke and the 100 IM.
Two-time individual event winners for Newport Hills were Chloe Harbilas (50 free and 50 backstroke) in the 9-10 girls, Madeline Musselman (50 free and 50 butterfly) in the 11-12 girls and Speedy Laster (25 back and 50 free) in the 7-8 boys.
Individual event winners for the Killer Whales were Olivia Krotts (25 back) in the under-6 girls, Tommy Bethel (25 fly) in the 7-8 boys, Hana Cloherty (25 fly) in the 9-10 girls, Kaveh Moaddeli (50 free) and Connor McManigal (100 IM) in the 9-10 boys, Lauren Openshaw (50 breaststroke) in the 11-12 girls, Rourke Funke (50 breaststroke) in the 11-12 boys and Brianna Daboub (50 back) in the 13-14 girls.
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HVST takes home age-group trophies
The Harbor View Swim Team finished third at the South Coast Swim Conference Championships. HVST also came home with first-place trophies in the 7-8 girls’ and boys’ divisions, as well as the 13-14 boys’ division.
HVST’s fast first-graders and speedy second-graders got off to a dominant start in the 4x25-yard medley relay, where the girls, boys and mixed teams all took first place.
Abby Nutt , Megan Chelf, Kate Watson and Katherine Snyder won in 1:18.29 for the girls, while the aptly-named Colton Quick, Kyle Jolas, Connor Cohen and Ben Lawson brought home the gold for the boys (1:16.51).
The mixed relay team of Grace Klingler, Ryan Schafer, Tucker Jackson and Abby Snider posted a time of 1:26.16 in their first-place effort.
Nutt followed up with a win in the 25 freestyle (16.45) and 50 free (35.70), while Chelf won the 25 breaststroke (21.03) for the girls and Jolas (21.53), for the boys.
Quick, Luesbrink and Lawson teamed up with Zach Kittelson to win the 4x25 free relay (1:05.79), and teammates Caitlin Cohen, Carter Healy, Tanner Harrington and Nicole Fagella also took blue in the mixed event (1:12.10).
For the 13-14 boys, Connor Mickelsen, Robert Naruse, Garrett Godber and Ford Secrist took first place in the 50 medley relay (1:52.61).
Mickelsen added commanding first-place finishes in the 50 butterfly (26.54) and backstroke (28.78).
Head Coach Ted Bandaruk noted that many of the strong 7-8 and 13-14 swimmers are in the bottom half of their age divisions and will be back next year in those same divisions.
Other first-place winners for HVST were Luke Chelf in the 50 breaststroke (37.15) and Alexander Taxman in the 25 fly (14.87) and 50 back (35.33).
Timmy Hanson, who broke four records for HVST this season, posted decisive wins in the 50 fly (28.14) and 100 yard individual medley event (1:03.98), just six hundredths of a second shy of the IM record posted 20 years ago at the SCSC finals.
HVST Coach Kate Inglis expressed particular gratitude “for all our families who planned their vacations and other activities to allow their swimmers to come to the meet.” She also praised older swimmers Jake Bandaruk, who was given the Team Captain Award at the annual awards ceremony, and Margot Money, who graduated this year and has provided inspirational leadership to HVST since age four.
Inglis noted that “Margot grew up with the team and this year ran our pollywogs program of about 44 [toddlers].”
Jake Bandaruk and Money both posted strong swims at finals.
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