Young Taeo Seo leads Falcons to banner day in CIF

Young Tae Seo headlined a banner day for the Crescenta Valley High swimming program at the CIF Southern Section Division II Finals this season.
Young Tae Seo headlined a banner day for the Crescenta Valley High swimming program at the CIF Southern Section Division II Finals this season.
(Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)

The top-10 individual performances by an athlete in an individual setting from the 2011-12 season were voted on by the Glendale News-Press sports department.

1 Young Tae Seo highlights banner day for himself, Falcons, May 12, 2012 — Seo and the Crescenta Valley High boys’ swimming team finally captured first prize at the elusive CIF Southern Section Division II Swimming and Diving Championships at Riverside Aquatics Center for the program’s first CIF crown since 2000.

Individually, Seo won the 500-yard freestyle in 4 minutes 28.95 seconds and the 100 breaststroke in a mark of 55.91 that was just .10 of a second off his own meet record set in 2011.

It came down to the final event — the 400-freestyle relay. The Falcons needed a victory in the race to capture the title.

Seo, who teamed with Harrison Thai, Louis Wojciechowski and Edward Yi, anchored the final leg of the event and out-touched Damien’s Jason Haney by .42 seconds to give the Falcons a meet-record time of 3:05.50 and give Crescenta Valley a 301-293 win against Damien.

“I was kind of scared the first 50 [yards], so I tried to have more energy, I was training for distance swimming, not sprinting,” Seo said. “I tried to go as fast as I could the last 25 [yards], no matter what. I don’t care if I die or not. I [wanted to] do whatever I had to do and finish before Damien.”

Seo also worked with Thai, Jacob Ksendov and Antonio Camarillo to open the meet with a win in the 200-medley relay (1:35.51).

2 Harrison Thai has big day for champion Falcons, May 12, 2012 — Thai enjoyed a stellar day for the Crescenta Valley boys’ swimming team. He won two individual events and helped win two relays, including swimming a leg on the 400-freestyle relay that netted Crescenta Valley the CIF Division II crown.

In the 400-freestyle relay, Thai grouped with Seo, Wojciechowski and Yi to win in 3:05.50 and help Crescenta Valley outlast Damien. Earlier, Thai worked with the same trio to win the 200-medley relay in 1:35.51.

Thai also took a pair of individual races. He won the 200-individual medley (1:48.86) and the 100 backstroke (50.31 seconds).

“It’s a pretty sweet win for me because I’ve been in it for the last two years and I’ve been out-touched every time,” Thai said of the backstroke. “It’s nice to finally win this one, especially.”

3 Mike Davis makes speedy case for Masters, May 19, 2012 — Davis, a member of the Glendale High boys’ track and field team, came into the CIF Southern Section Division I final red hot. The Brigham Young University-bound Davis had earlier won Pacific League championships in the 100- and 200-meter dashes.

In front of a large crowd at the Division I final at Mount San Antonio College in Walnut, Davis turned in a mark of 21.40 in the 200. Davis’ mark was second in the division and sent him on to the CIF Southern Section Masters Meet. He was the lone area athlete to advance to the Masters Meet.

Davis’ mark eclipsed his seeded time of 21.58 and was fifth-best overall.

“I wasn’t thinking about qualifying as much as doing my best,” said Davis, who would become the first Glendale male athlete to reach the state meet since 1986. “I wasn’t happy with my time in the 100 and had to do better.”

4 Karen Ataiain upsets unbeaten league champion, Nov. 2, 2011 — As the season moved along, Karen Ataian got stronger.

Ataian, a member of the Crescenta Valley High girls’ tennis team, had worked with Sarah Ali to win the Pacific League doubles championship in 2010. This time, Ataian found herself on her own against top-seeded and two-time defending singles champion Francis Dean of Arcadia in the final round at the league finals at Pasadena High.

Ataian, the third seed, more than held her own. Ataian rallied late to post a 1-6, 6-4, 10-6 upset victory against Dean. Ataian began the day with a 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 11-9 semifinal victory against second-seeded teammate Emily Borkowski.

Dean entered the match against Ataian undefeated, though it didn’t seem to faze Ataian.

After losing the first set, Ataian bounced back strong and broke Dean’s serve late in the second set to turn the tide.

In the tiebreaker, Dean then took a 4-3 lead, but Ataian gained the needed momentum to win league.

“I didn’t think about winning, I just played my game,” Ataian said.

5 Harrison Thai enjoys another big effort in league title bid, May 3, 2012 — Thai made yet another splash during the Pacific League championship meet at Burbank High. Thai managed to equal his own league record of 51.16 in the 100 backstroke, which he originally set in 2011.

Thai teamed with Seo, Wojciechowski and Yi to eclipse the league record in the 400-freestyle relay by two seconds with a final mark of 3:10.06.

In the 200-medley relay, the Crescenta Valley quartet of Thai, Seo, Josh Yi and Antonio Camarillo combined to finish first (1:37.89).

Thai also notched a first-place finish in the 200-individual medley, recording a mark of 1:52.13, or .21 seconds off his own record set in 2011.

“It was definitely nice,” Thai said. “We had a really good relay last year. I think we went a 3:07 at [the 2011 CIF finals] and 3:10 for league finals is a great start.”

6 Young Tae Seo shines again at Pacific League finals, May 3, 2012 — While helping Crescenta Valley win its 20th league championship in a row, Seo, the reigning All-Area Boys’ Swimmer of the Year, was once again a force during the league final meet.

Seo worked with Thai, Wojciechowski and Edward Yi to shatter the league record in the 400-freestyle relay in 3:10.06.

In the 200-medley relay, Seo, Thai, Josh Yi and Camarillo grouped to finish first in 1:37.89.

Seo again dominated in the 500 freestyle, clocking 4:31.02. Earlier, Seo took first in the 100 breaststroke in 58.30.

7 Kirsten Vose enjoys breakthrough day in the water, May 1, 2012 — The Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy swimming team finished with five Mission League championships on the day at league final meet at L.A. Valley College. Vose had a big hand in the success, winning a pair of individual championships and helping the Tologs rack up two relay titles.

The freshman won the 200-individual medley in 2:08.30, 2.71 seconds ahead of event favorite Harvard-Westlake’s Sydney Wong. Vose then registered a first-place performance in the 100 breaststroke, clocking a time of 1:04.71.

Vose worked with teammates Katie Altmayer, Emily Balog and Meg Ryan to win the 400-freestyle relay in a league-record 3:39.51. The quartet began the meet by capturing the 200-medley relay in a finals-record 1:50.08.

“It’s my best time overall from club and [high school], so that’s exciting,” Vose said following the 200-individual medley. "[Tologs Coach Steve Bergen] told me before [the race] to go warm up backstroke because he said [Wong] would probably catch me up on that and I would have to get it back on the breaststroke. It motivated me, I really wanted to speed up ahead.”

8 Jocelyn Chia reels in first league’s top prize, Oct. 20, 2012 — Chia, a two-time All-Area Girls’ Golfer of the Year, carded a two-under par 73 in the second round of the Pacific League individual final, but the Crescenta Valley sophomore had no clue if it would warrant winning the league’s individual crown for the first time in her decorated career.

Chia was forced to wait while the league coaches tallied up the final scores from the field. Thanks to a superb effort on the back nine, Chia’s wait ended in celebration.

Chia finished two strokes ahead of Arcadia’s Katherine Guo, forcing a tie for the title, but won the crown in a card-off by virtue of a lower score on the back nine at Jurupa Hills Country Club in Riverside.

Chia became the first Falcons golfer since Katie Park in 2007 to win a league championship.

“I didn’t even know about a card-off or what the card off-was going to be,” said Chia, who overcame a two-stroke deficit gauged by season scoring against Guo. “Katherine and I gave it a real good run.

“I felt like I’ve accomplished something and I have had a lot of fun doing it. Now, I just want to keep it going.”

9 James Knowles hurdles way to league domination, May 3, 2012 — Knowles came into the season with several goals. One of them included repeating as Mission League champion in the 110- and 300-meter hurdles at L.A. Valley College.

For that to happen, the St. Francis High athlete knew he needed to improve on his technique and avoid stutter-stepping during the first four hurdles while lining up against a talented field.

Knowles, a senior, stepped up and achieved his goal by capturing both events. He took the 110 in 14.74 seconds before winning the 300 in 38.48.

“In the 300, that’s the best time I’ve run on the year,” Knowles said. “I’m still working on getting through the first four hurdles better. I didn’t stutter too much.

“It’s great to be able to repeat. It’s more motivation for me the rest of the way and I want to get to state.”

10 Mickey Mowry pulls off upset in the butterfly, May 3, 2012 — The Glendale High boys’ swimmer once again proved to be among the best in the Pacific League. Mowry, a senior, found himself in a white-knuckle battle with Crescenta Valley’s Wojciechowski in the 100 butterfly at the league final at Burbank High.

Wojciechowski entered the event as the defending league champion and the league record holder, but Mowry had other ideas in mind.

Mowry proceeded to clocked 50.44 and topped Wojciechowski, who finished in 50.71.

“Not being rested, I feel pretty good, it was a really good race,” Mowry said. “I came here to race and knowing Louis Wojciechowski would be my competition, I just wanted to have a good race and have fun.

“On the last turn I saw that we were neck and neck, so I just tried to keep my pull strong and my elbows up.”

Mowry also finished second in the 200 freestyle in 1:42.76.