GLENDALE — For the most part, the first phase of the Crescenta Valley High boys' swimming team's mission to capture the CIF Southern Section Division II championship went according to plan, as the Falcons dominated their major events in the division preliminaries at Belmont Plaza pool in Long Beach on Friday.
Needing top-eight finishes to advance to championship heats at today's finals at Belmont Plaza pool, all but one of Crescenta Valley's top seeded individuals and relays held true to form, coming out with wins, and in two cases, Division II records.
Sophomore Young Tae Seo established a new mark in the 100-yard breaststroke in 55.88 seconds and the Falcons' 200-medley relay team — Harrison Thai, Andrew De Jong, Seo and Louis Wojciechowski — set a record of 1:34.23 while beating runner-up Murietta Valley by more than two full seconds.
"We're very happy about [the wins and broken records on Friday]," Crescenta Valley boys' Coach Jan Sakonju said. "We just want to make sure we can execute tomorrow and bring home a championship. It's going to be close, it's going to be crazy. The guys are going to have to put together their best performances."
Aside from their top guns, the Falcons' depth didn't provide as much support as hoped for in some other events and the failure of the Falcons' top-seeded 200-freestyle relay team to qualify for the championship heat may come back to bite them, as its 10th-place finish and corresponding consolation-heat berth will limit the amount of points the Falcons can expect to score in competing with top competitors El Segundo and Murietta Valley for the overall championship.
"We dropped some points in our relay, so that's going to make it very interesting," Sakonju said. "Murietta Valley had a very good day and so did El Segundo, El Segundo had a phenomenal day, actually.
"We've got these other teams right on our heels that are just as hungry as us, so it will be a fun meet."
Still, the Falcons are considered a slim favorite with seven total top seeds in the finals, including another win by Seo in the 200-individual medley in 1:50.65.
Seo finished just in front of teammate Harrison Thai, who will be the second seed with a time of 1:51.61. Thai was also the top qualifier in the 100 backstroke in 50.59. Glendale's Mickey Mowry also turned in an impressive swim in the 100 backstroke, taking third in 51.05.
Wojciechowski turned in two first-place swims, finishing in 1:39.05 in the 200 freestyle and 49.71 in the 100 butterfly, in which Mowry also took third yet again with a time of 50.32.
In the 400-freestyle relay, the team of Wojciechowski, Josh Chi, Thai and Seo took first in 3:08.94.
Chi also qualified for the championship race in the 100 freestyle in 47.51.
In girls' action, Crescenta Valley freshman Iva Icheva finished sixth in the backstroke in 59.61 and 10th in the 50 freestyle in 24.90. She was the only local girls' athlete to move on to the finals.
It wasn't all smooth sailing for the Falcons' boys, however, as Chi finished just 18th in the 50 freestyle in 21.94.
"In hindsight, I think I should have put [Chi] in a different event than the 50," Sakonju said. "The difference between first and last place was so close and I should have probably put him into a different event."
Another shaky turnabout for the CV boys was the 200 freestyle relay's 10th-place mark of 1:29.80.
"We did change the personnel who swam [the 200-freestyle relay] and they've gone faster," Sakonju said. "They added time today and because of that they dropped out of the top eight."
Elsewhere, Josh Lo (1:59.52) and De Jong (2:01.28) were 18th and 26th, respectively in the 200 IM. De Jong (54.04) was 26th in the 100 butterfly and Bassel Takidin was 23rd in the 100 backstroke in 56.44.
Crescenta Valley's girls took 18th in the 200-medley relay in 1:57.35, Mackenzie Hobby was 29th in the 200 IM in 2:21.65 and Adrienne Ingalla was 27th in the 100 breaststroke in 1:13.68 for the Falcons.
Flintridge Prep's Jennifer Langen was 18th in the 100 freestyle in 54.75.
The Division II championship meet will begin today at 4 p.m.