Kari Johnson said she couldn't have been more proud of her Laguna Beach High boys' and girls' swim teams after their performances last week at the CIF Southern Section Swimming and Diving Championships.
The Laguna girls' team made another strong push for the Division 3 title but came up just short of winning the crown.
The boys' team also was in the title hunt, and finished third in Division 3.
The Southern Section finals were held May 9 at Riverside City College.
The Laguna girls scored 191.5 team points, and finished only behind Crean Lutheran (250), which won its first Southern Section title. The Breakers didn't win any individual or relay event, but Lila Vera placed second in both the 100-yard butterfly (56.01) and 100 backstroke (58.58).
Vera's time in the 100 butterfly broke a school record that she had held, Johnson said.
The Breakers also finished second in the 200 freestyle relay (Makenzie Fischer, Lexi Del Toro, Sydney Saxe, Vera) at 1:41.02, and in the 400 free relay (3:40.88).
The Laguna girls have been a runner-up to a Southern Section title three times in the last five years.
"We were trying to win it this year, but I could not have asked for anything more from this group of girls," Johnson said. "They gave it their all and worked together as a team.
"I still believe a CIF title is within reach, it's just a matter of time."
The Laguna boys, second at CIF finals last year, scored 164 to take third place this year. The Breakers placed behind division winner Riverside North (272) and second-place Viewpoint (207).
The Breakers' Erik Juliusson won two individual events at finals. He took the 200 free in 1:40.68), and the 100 backstroke in 52.79. Both times lowered his school record in both events.
Johnson said Juliusson is the first male to win two individual events at a CIF final.
The 400 free relay team of Cameron Karkosa, Max Morgan, Cade Baldridge and Juliusson, finished second and hit a new school record time at 3:13.76.
"Erik is a phenomenal swimmer, athlete, and person," Johnson said of Juliusson. "He does whatever it takes to win his races. I can't wait to see him develop even further as a person and role model on our team.
"The boys did an excellent job at CIF. I could not be more proud of their performance as a team. We had a very young team this year, composed of mostly freshmen and sophomores, and I'm excited to see if we can pull out a victory next year."
During the spring season, the Breakers set several school records: Vera in the girls' 50 free (24.54) and 100 butterfly (56.01); Juliusson in the boys' 200 free, 100 backstroke, 200 individual medley (1:54.96) and 500 free (4:37.22); Karkosa in the 100 breaststroke (1:00.73), and the boys' 400 relay team.
The Breakers had their postseason run ended Monday by Redlands, which scored an 11-7 in the quarterfinal round of the CIF Southern Section Division 4 playoffs.
Laguna's Teague Hamilton, at No. 1 singles, swept all three matches without giving up a game (6-0, 6-0, 6-0). Morgan Lebby, at No. 2 singles, recorded two wins (2-6, 6-0, 6-1).
Orange Coast League champion Laguna, the No. 4 seed in the tournament, finished the year 11-11.
Hamilton and Lebby will compete later this month at the CIF Individuals tournament.
"We were definitely stronger at the top of our singles lineup, but unfortunately, they had more depth," Laguna Coach Don Davis said. "Our doubles lost three close matches and we needed to win all three, in order to have won. The boys played hard and finished strong, but in the end, it was Redlands' day."
The Breakers opened the playoffs with a 16-2 first-round win against Santa Maria. They then took care of Westminster La Quinta, 10-8, in a second-round match Friday.
La Quinta had ended Laguna's season last year with a 10-8 win in the playoffs.
"We had two important goals for the season," Davis said. "One, to win league. We overcame numerous injuries to key players, but still managed to win league. Two, to improve our doubles play. We accomplished both goals.
"Unfortunately our CIF draw was much tougher this season than last year, but the only reason we beat La Quinta second round was due to our improvement in doubles."
Track & Field
Laguna turned in qualifying times at the CIF Southern Section Track and Field Division 4 preliminaries to advance to the Southern Section finals.
Breakers who hit qualifying times at the Division 4 prelims Saturday at Carpinteria High were:
Janie Crawford (girls' 1,600-meter run); Spencer Anderson (boys' 110 hurdles); Coco Putnam (girls' 300 hurdles); Drake Martinez (boys' 200); girls' 4x400 relay (Crawford, Putnam, Natalie Kimball, Johana Abarca, Brielle Budroe).
The CIF Southern Section division finals are Saturday at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut. Events featuring Laguna athletes are scheduled for the following starting times: girls' 110 hurdles (1:35 p.m.); boys' 110 hurdles (2:40 p.m.); girls' 300 hurdles (4:15 p.m.); boys' 200 (4:50 p.m.); girls' 4x400 relay (6:05 p.m.).