Thorsness making a name for herself

Kellie Thorsness lives with expectations at Costa Mesa High.

There are the expectations Thorsness has for herself, the things she wants to accomplish in her prep water polo and swimming careers.

But, when your two older siblings are two of the more recognizable aquatics stars to come through Costa Mesa, other people have expectations too. Katie Thorsness was a swimming and polo standout at Mesa, leading the girls' water polo team in goals during her senior year of 2003. Kyle Thorsness led Orange County in goals scored as a senior for the Mustangs, before graduating in 2006.

Kellie, a junior at Costa Mesa, feels the expectations. She said she has talked about them with Coach Tim Postiff, who started at Mesa when Katie was a senior.

"People will sometimes compare me to them, but it's like, 'Whatever,'" Kellie Thorsness said. "I mean, I'm my own person. Postiff is always like, 'You're your own person, so don't really care about what people say.'

"Sometimes I'm like, 'I'm not living up to my brother and sister.' He's like, 'No, you're your own person. You're doing fine.'"

Kellie Thorsness is doing more than fine. In the recently completed water polo season she was a first-team All-Orange Coast League and Newport-Mesa Dream Team selection. She scored 88 goals, third in program history. In doing so she bumped her older sister, who scored 70 goals her senior year, down to fourth on that list.

"[Katie] was pretty mad," Kellie said. "She was like, 'You didn't have to rub it in my face.' But she was really happy for me."

Now the youngest Thorsness also is in the record books for swimming.

Kellie Thorsness, the Daily Pilot Athlete of the Week, set the Mesa girls' 50-yard freestyle record March 31 at the Costa Mesa Invitational. She touched in 24.96 seconds, which broke Erin Bayes' school record of 25.01 seconds from 2001.

"When I saw my time, I got really excited," Thorsness said. "I almost cried ... We know their family. My sister knows Erin, and she told her. Erin was really excited that [the record] finally got broken. I definitely felt accomplished."

Thorsness has another of Bayes' records in her sights. Thorsness' season-best of 54.60 in the 100 free, which she swam Wednesday at Laguna Beach, is just 0.32 seconds off Bayes' school record.

The times are fast for Thorsness, who is not a club swimmer. But they are not surprising to Mesa girls' coach Patty Smith.

"Her work ethic has improved tremendously," Smith said. "She's pushing girls during water polo and swim practices. They all look up to her. When it's time to do so, she gets silly and makes people laugh. Then we get back to swimming again and it's all business."

At about 6 feet tall, Thorsness' height also helps. In league she has stood tall, as she has not lost in either of her individual races. She has helped Costa Mesa go 4-1 in league dual meets. Thorsness has two big meets left, the league finals at Costa Mesa on Thursday and the CIF Southern Section Division 3 finals at Riverside Community College on May 10.

Thorsness has automatically qualified for CIF in both sprint freestyles. She'd like to get her relays there too. She swims anchor on the 200 medley relay (also featuring Claudine Le, Ashley Tfaye and Aubry Hill), as well as the 200 free relay (also featuring Aubry Hill, Kaitlyn Hill and Lauren Smith).

As far as her individual events, Thorsness said she wants to make top eight — the championship finals race. She should do it if she gets anywhere near her goals for the season, which are a low 54-second time in the 50 free and a low 24 or a 23 in the 50 free. Last year Thorsness battled sickness two different times during the swim season, but still finished 14th in the 50 free at CIF finals.

This year she wants more than just the consolation finals.

"I feel good," Thorsness said. "I keep dropping time, and I'm not tapered. I feel like if I just keep my focus, I'll have a really good taper and do really good at CIF."

Not bad for a former soccer player who didn't start competitive swimming or water polo until her freshman year at Mesa. Now she shines in the pool for the Mustangs. This past fall, Kellie also watched Kyle shine during his senior year playing water polo at the University of La Verne. Kyle Thorsness led the Leopards with 62 goals and was a first-team All-Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference selection.

"He was really fun to watch," Kellie Thorsness said. "It's so different going from high school to college."

Kellie still has a lot of room for growth in her high school career. Maybe her older siblings, who gave her some goading while growing up, knew what they were talking about.

"They always bugged me," she said. "It was like, 'Kellie, you have to go play water polo and swim, keep up the Thorsness tradition.' I love them, but they were really pushy with me. But I'm glad that they convinced me to play, because I love it."

matthew.szabo@latimes.com

Twitter: @mjszabo

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Kellie Thorsness

Born: Feb. 8, 1995

Hometown: Costa Mesa

Height: 6-0

Sport: Swimming

Year: Junior

Coach: Patty Smith

Favorite food: Pasta

Favorite movie: "Tangled"

Favorite athletic moment: Breaking the school record in the 50-yard freestyle earlier this year.

Week in review: Thorsness won the 50 and 100 freestyle events, helping Costa Mesa beat rival Estancia, 100-67, in an Orange Coast League meet April 18.

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