Solo standouts shined bright

GLENDALE — The top-10 individual performances by an athlete in an individual setting from the 2009-10 season were selected by the sportswriters of the Glendale News-Press.

1Young Tae Seo closes out first year in style at CIF Masters Meet, May 18, 2010 — Seo, the All-Area Boys' Swimmer of the Year, instantly made a name for himself in the pool.

Winning Pacific League and CIF championships were one thing, but Seo had something else in mind — cap his superb season by grabbing the spotlight at the Masters Meet at Belmont Plaza pool in Long Beach.

All eyes were on Seo, who won the 200 individual medley in 1 minute 50.71 seconds and then captured the 500 in 4:32.91.

"I feel pretty good winning both events," Seo said following the Masters Meet, which features the top two finishers per event from each divisional championship meet, plus the top 24 fastest times overall from the divisional meets, in head-to-head competition. "Today, I feel really tired, though. I had Sunday off and then two days later I had to do a meet, so I was off a little.

"I did really good without tapering, but next year I'm going to try and get a CIF record, that's all I want."

2Young Tae Seo dominates at CIF Southern Section Division I finals, May 15, 2010 — Having already proven to be one of the elite swimmers in the Pacific League, Seo made his inaugural appearance at Belmont Plaza pool in Long Beach for the Division I finals in front of a packed house.

Blocking out all distractions, Seo clocked 1 minute 50.14 seconds to win the 200-yard individual medley.

The All-Area Boys' Swimmer of the Year then turned in a mark of 4:27.38 to take second in the 500 freestyle, in addition to helping Crescenta Valley's 200 medley and 400 freestyle relay teams take second and fifth, respectively. Crescenta Valley finished second behind Oaks Christian.

"It feels good, but I thought I could go a little faster," Seo said. "I tried to go 1:48 and break the [division] record, but I still have three more years [to do that].

"I felt really good in the freestyle, I bumped it up. I had a lot of energy kicking and I tried to use more kicks."

3Andrea Kropp concludes high school swimming career on winning note, May 14, 2010 — Kropp, a senior and a two-time All-Area Girls' Swimmer of the Year, couldn't have asked for a better way to end her stellar high school career.

At Belmont Plaza pool in Long Beach, Kropp captured the 100-yard breaststroke at the CIF Southern Section Division I swimming and diving championships in 1 minute 1.23 seconds.

"This is just the best feeling ever," Kropp, who improved her career total of CIF individual titles to four, despite having participated in only three finals meets, said. "That last 75 turn, I did my pullout and I said, 'I've got to win something.'

"To do it here, this has been my home away from home. ...I've had some great swims here and to be able to do this here just seals the deal."

Kropp's experience participating in high-profile meets paid off in the end. She edged out Mater Dei's Melissa Bates, who led through the first three quarters. She raised her level another notch in the last 25 yards, as she hit the pad .43 seconds ahead of Bates.

4Harrison Thai not intimidated on CIF's grand stage, May 15, 2010 — Thai, another one of the stellar underclassmen on the Crescenta Valley High boys' swimming team, didn't appear bothered going up against veteran swimmers who had plenty of big-meet experience. In fact, Thai might have given some of them something to think about following the CIF Southern Section Division I finals at Long Beach's Belmont Plaza pool.

Thai helped the Falcons finish second in the division with 191 points behind powerful Oaks Christian (278). It was Crescenta Valley's highest finish since it won a CIF crown in 2000.

Thai finished second in the 100-yard breaststroke, just missing his first CIF title by .19 seconds when he took runner-up in the 100 breaststroke to Murrieta Valley's Eric Van de Mortel in a season-best 58.29 seconds.

"That one was hard," Thai said. "We decided I would do back-to-back events and it was close. I thought I could do it, and that little bit at the end, I couldn't. But I'll be back next year."

Later in the meet, Thai took third in the 100 backstroke in 51.73.

5Record mark suits Melanie Samvalian just fine, May 22, 2010 — After helping the school's girls' basketball team reach the quarterfinals for the first time since 2001, Samvalian rose to the occasion once again at the CIF Southern Section Division I final at Cerritos College in Norwalk.

Pitted against some of the top shot putters in the state, Samvalian, the reigning All-Area Girls' Track and Field Athlete of the Year, placed fourth with a personal-best and school-record mark of 38 feet 6 inches.

It capped a fine season for Samvalian, who earlier won the Pacific League championship for the second season in a row.

"With winning league, it was kind of a piece of cake," Samvalian said. "Once I got to CIF, I knew that I would be competing against a bunch of great throwers.

"I pulled through [the prelims] and I noticed that the girls at the finals were so much bigger than me. I felt like I was underestimated a bit. I had to keep my confidence and get into a rhythm because you have to make your best throw every time. It's all mental."

6Young Tae Seo shines at Pacific League finals, May 6, 2010 — Seo showed no signs of nervousness at the league finals at Burbank High. Instead, he performed like a seasoned veteran.

Seo, a freshman on the Crescenta Valley High boys' swimming squad, won the 200-yard freestyle in 1 minute 41.94 seconds and broke his own league record in the 500 freestyle by 1.57 seconds in 4:32.17.

"I was trying to go 4:30 and break the school record, but I didn't," said Seo, who played a large role in helping the Falcons win their 18th straight league crown. "I didn't taper at all. I'm just waiting for CIF."

Seo would also group with Harrison Thai, Josh Chi and Andrew De Jong to capture the 400-freestyle relay win with a mark of 3:14.89.

7Andrea Kropp excels at Mission League swimming finals, May 3, 2010 — The senior showed why she was one of the top swimmers in one of the toughest leagues in the region. After leading Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy team to a share of the Mission League championship with Harvard-Westlake, Kropp came through during the league final at the San Fernando Regional Pool with a pair of season-best efforts.

Kropp took first in the 200-yard individual medley and 100-yard breaststroke. She finished her three-year career with eight league titles.

Kroop kicked things off by winning her first crown in the 200 IM title in 2 minutes 05.30 seconds. Then, in the breaststroke, her signature event, Kroop broke her own meet record with a mark of 1:04.39. Her previous best time in the event came in 2008, when she clocked 1:05.98.

8Katalina Sher doubles her pleasure at Pacific League swimming finals, May 6, 2010 — Sher, a four-year varsity member on the Glendale High swimming team, proved to be the top girls' swimmer at the league final at Burbank High.

The MIT-bound Sher won the 200-yard freestyle in 1 minute 55.42 and took the 100 freestyle in 53.57 seconds.

Sher finished her excellent career at Glendale with eight league championships.

9Michael Timpson delivers in the clutch at Pacific League Individual final, May 5, 2010 — One of Timpson's biggest goals entering the season was to win an elusive Pacific League championship. He couldn't have picked a better time to accomplish that feat.

After recovering from a slow start, Timpson, a senior, got his long and short games working toward the end of his 18-hole round. Timpson, who will play next at Glendale Community College, carded a one-over-par 72 and finished with a two-round score of 144 at De Bell Golf Club in Burbank.

Timpson, who helped the Falcons place second in the team competition, edged out Richard Jeong of Arcadia by one stroke to become the latest Falcons player to win a league crown since Justin Yu won it 2008.

10tieHarrison Thai delivers a pair of victories, one in record-breaking fashion at Pacific League finals, May 6, 2010 — After earlier helping the Crescenta Valley High boys' swimming team win its 18th Pacific League championship in a row, Thai turned in a marvelous performance at the league finals at Burbank High.

The freshman won a pair of league championships, which included the 100 backstroke in 52.92 seconds and the 100 breaststroke in 1:00.78. Thai shattered the league record in the breaststroke event by .84 seconds.

Thai worked with Young Tae Seo, Josh Chi and Andrew De Jong to give Crescenta Valley a victory in the 400-freestyle relay in 3:14.89.

10tieJessica Beerman sprints way to a pair of titles at Pacific League Track and Field finals, May 7, 2010 — Beerman, a senior, came to Glendale High's Moyse Field set to chase down one and possibly two league championships.

The competitive Beerman struck gold twice.

Beerman had little difficulty winning the 100 in 12.30 seconds and the 200 in 25.96. Winning the 200 proved to be her defining moment after placing second in the event in 2009.

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