High School Swimming: Griffins top Sailors

LOS ALAMITOS — The Newport Harbor High girls' swim team came into Tuesday's Sunset League meet at Los Alamitos High with a plan.

But as the meet progressed, the Sailors saw a Griffins team that was a little bit deeper. Newport Harbor Coach Brian Melstrom said the Griffins have 57 girls in their program, while Newport Harbor has 35.

The Los Al girls were maybe even a little bit more physically imposing.

"They're tall," Melstrom said during the meet. "They're all two, three inches taller than our girls."

Los Alamitos did indeed stand tall during the last league dual meet of the regular season. The Griffins girls won the matchup of league unbeatens, 106-64.

The first-place Los Al boys also beat Newport Harbor, 110-60.

Newport Harbor's girls can still win the outright league title by winning the league finals, which conclude at Newport Harbor on May 3. That was a reason why Los Al Coach Dave Carlson told his girls that Tuesday's meet "doesn't mean anything," but his squad still swam with pride.

Carlson said it is the first time since 2006 that the Los Al girls have gone undefeated in dual meets. He said he believes it is the first time in his tenure that the boys have been undefeated as well.

"We do have a really deep team," Carlson said. "A lot of it is competitive spirit. This girls' team has a really tight synergy. All of them lift weights together three days a week, club girls and everyone, and they became a really tight-knit group. In sports, when you have a bunch of people that have a good synergy and that will fight for each other, it has a huge impact on performance."

Senior Carly Christian, bound for UC Santa Barbara for water polo, had a standout day for Newport Harbor (4-1 in league). She won the 100-yard freestyle in 53.30 seconds, and finished second in the 200 free in 1:56.38. Christian also anchored two winning relays for the Sailors.

Marissa Robertson, Carlee Kapana, Ellie Reid and Christian won the 200 medley relay in 1:54.09. Robertson, Casey Duckworth, Allyson Hall and Christian also won the meet-ending 400 free relay in 3:44.68.

The quartet was in third place when Christian entered the water, but she swam a swift 52.67 split to overcome both Los Al teams.

"I knew I had to go my fastest, and that's what I did," Christian said. "It's pretty fast. We'll see if I can go a 52 off my flat start. That's what I'm working on."

Christian said she is excited for the rest of the season, and happy to be a part of one of the top Sailors girls' squads in years.

"I think we're doing really, really well," she said. "We'll see what happens at league [finals] next week and then at CIF. Hopefully a lot of our girls qualify for CIF, because that would be really cool."

Duckworth, bound for the University of Wyoming, was the other individual event winner for Newport. She won the 200 individual medley after she was ruled to have out-touched Miranda Rouse of Los Al by one-hundredth of a second. There was a timing malfunction during the race, but Duckworth's backup time was 2:11.68.

Robertson finished a strong second in both the 50 free (25.34) and the backstroke (1:05.39).

"I think we're capable of better ... [but] I'm pretty proud of the girls this year," Melstrom said. "They train hard and they don't complain."

Los Al's boys won every event against Newport Harbor (3-2 in league). Sophomore Hayden Hemmens was a standout for the Sailors, as he finished second in the individual medley (2:04.21) and the backstroke (59.43).

Senior Preston Lee was the other individual second-place finisher for the Sailors. He secured second in the 100 free, in 49.94, after being out-touched by Christian Searing of Los Al.

Newport Harbor plays host to Corona del Mar in the Battle of the Bay on Thursday.

matthew.szabo@latimes.com

Twitter: @mjszabo

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