A season ago, Crescenta Valley High and Flintridge Prep saw their boys’ and girls’ swimming teams win league championships.
The campaign also featured a group of swimmers bringing home individual league titles, thus advancing to the CIF Southern Section finals in Riverside and faring well while rubbing elbows with many elite athletes across Southern California.
Each team has outlined their goals for this season, which include setting personal- and school-best records and more.
Here is a closer look at the teams.
There were some quality story lines for the Falcons last season, which included a handful of individual Pacific League titles and winning team league crowns.
On the girls’ side, Crescenta Valley, which finished fifth at the CIF Southern Section Division II finals in Riverside last season, should be primed for another steady season.
The Falcons, who have won 11 league championships in a row, will be paced by sophomore Amanda Petersen, who won the 200-yard individual medley league title in 2 minutes, 8.45 seconds and the 100 breaststroke with a league-record time of 1:05.16. At the Division II finals, Petersen took third in the breaststroke in 1:04.63.
Petersen will be flanked by senior Mia Haguchi (butterfly/freestyle), juniors Gabby Icheva (individual medley/breaststroke/freestyle) and Kimmy Park (freestyle Senior diver Katelynn Shaheen returns following a second-place performance at CIF after winning the event in 2017.
“We’re looking pretty good,” Crescenta Valley coach Peter Kim said. “We have a lot of experienced people and we have a good mix of club swimmers, so we’re pretty deep again.”
For the boys team, coached by Jan Sakonju, it won league for the 25th time in the last 26 seasons. The Falcons also won several individual league titles.
Crescenta Valley brings back senior freestyle William Blake, who won a league title in the 200-yard freestyle in 1:43.38 last season. He will be joined by senior Andre Yarcan (breaststroke/butterfly) and sophomore Karl Puttler.
Yarca won individual titles in the 100 butterfly (52.48) and 100 breaststroke (58.55). Puttler took first in league in the 100 backstroke in 55.98.
“With every year, it’s about getting the league championship,” said Sakonju, whose team finished 14th in the Division II finals last season. “We want to get each individual into shape and have them drop their times.”,
For the first time in the school’s history a year ago, both swim teams won Prep League championships in the same season.
The pieces might be in place for Flintridge Prep coach Ingrid Herskind, who would like to see it occur for a second straight campaign.
“It would be great for both teams to win league again,” Herskind said. “We are also looking to make some noise at CIF.
“We have a big senior class for the boys and it’s talented. We have almost the entire girls’ team back after graduating just one athlete.”
For the girls’ team, the Rebels, who took seventh in the CIF Southern Section Division III finals last season, will boast a lineup that includes seniors Emily Alameddine (freestyle) and Emily Jacobs (individual medley/breaststroke), and junior Makena Walklett (butterfly/backstroke), who will be joined by her sophomore sister, Devyn (breaststroke/individual medley).
Flintridge Prep’s boys’ team will have a contingent of seniors looking to pave the way, including Winston Chen (backstroke/freestyle), Matt Ng (individual medley/breaststroke), Oliver Brookbanks (freestyle/relays) and Ben Brookbanks (freestyle/relays).
The Rebels placed 10th at the CIF finals in 2018.
With construction for a new pool deck set to soon begin, Glendale will spend the season on the road. The Nitros will try to feel at home while on the road.
“It’s going to be a challenge for our teams not having a home meet, but we’ll try to make the best of the situation,” Glendale coach Carol Driffill said. “Both of our teams lost some key people to graduation and some other people just decided not to return.
“For the boys’ team, we’d definitely like to get some people shooting for [Pacific League] titles. For the girls’ team, we have some club swimmers on board and we’d like to put together a relay team that can get to CIF.”
The boys’ team will rely on senior Leo Grossman (backstroke/freestyle) and juniors Kierrin Ferris (butterfly) and Aidan Gonzalez (freestyle/backstroke).
Expected to anchor the girls’ team will be seniors Clara Cho (breaststroke/freestyle) and Kaylin Lo (freestyle/butterfly) and freshman Liana Pooladi (breaststroke/backstroke.
St. Francis coach Brady Lowdermilk is expecting more improvement from the Golden Knights, who compete in the Mission League.
The Golden Knights have nearly 30 athletes, the most Lowdermilk has had since taking over the program.
Lowdermilk said St. Francis is capable of contending against dominant league opponents such as Loyola, Harvard-Westlake and Sherman Oaks Notre Dame.
“[We are] hoping to improve our rank at the Mission League Championships in the middle of April.,” Lowdermilk said. “We are returning four of the five members from last year's record setting CIF team, who, along with a couple of other guys, have their eyes set on making a big splash at that meet this season.
“I anticipate that several swimmers will qualify for and swim in the [CIF finals] in individual events and that we'll score points in all three relays as well. If it all goes as planned, we'll rewrite nearly the entire school record board.”
The core for St. Francis will be seniors John Balog,(freestyle/relays) and Jackson Dudas (freestyle/relays) and juniors Chris Bruce, (relays), Ethan Gray (relays/individual medley/butterfly) and Michael Smith (breaststoke/individual medley/freestyle).
FLINTRIDGE SACRED HEART ACADEMY
The Tologs turn to first-year coach Carlos Ponce in their quest to get back on track after being a dominant program earlier in the decade.
For Ponce, it’s mainly about building continuity and trying to move Flintridge Sacred Heart back to or near the top in the Mission League.
“There’s a lot of tradition with the program,” Ponce said. “The atmosphere and culture within the program is great and the girls are all looking to get better and make their marks on the program.”
Flintridge Sacred Heart’s core will likely be senior Kathryn Gerhardt (freestyle/backstroke), junior Emily Giesler (individual medley/breaststroke/relays) and sophomore Sophia Cotman (freestyle/butterfly).
Both teams will consist mainly of sophomores and juniors, as the Tornadoes look to make their way up in the Pacific League.
Paving the way for Hoover’s boys’ team are senior Jordan Corpuz in the butterfly and breaststroke, sophomores Hakop Anduryan (individual medley/freestyle) and Ejmin Elyasi (backstroke/individual medley/freestyle) and freshman Massimino Reyna (freestyle).
“I think we’ll be able to surprise some people,” Hoover coach Kevin Witt said. “We’ve been growing in numbers pretty consistently the last couple of years and it gives us flexibility in the way we go about the meets.”
For the girls’ side, Hoover will have junior Lusin Yengibaryan (freestyle) and sophomores Nane Akopyan (freestyle/backstroke/individual medley) and Kaylen Rostomlou (breaststroke/freestyle).
“A lot of our swimmers can handle different roles and they are getting better at their events,” Witt said. “I think we’ll have some strong top-end swimmers in our league.”“
ST. MONICA ACADEMY
In continuing to build their program, the Crusaders will field a small contingent under the direction of first-year coach Kristina Evans.
St. Monica, a member of the Heritage League, will have just one boys’ swimmer and a handful of girls’ participants.
Peter Boldt, a sophomore, will be the lone representative for the boys’ team.
“He’s got all of his strokes down and he’s very strong in the freestyle events,” Evans said.
The girls’ team will count on sophomore Anna Grumbine in the butterfly and freshmen Jocelyn Matranga (freestyle) and Tatum O’Brien (freestyle/relays).