Falcons split one with nonleague foe

LA CRESCENTA — While the two schools are no longer in the same division, nor in the same league or even city, the Crescenta Valley High boys' swimming team has maintained a healthy rivalry with Hart over the years.

The Falcons welcomed the CIF Southern Section Division I stalwart Indians onto their pool deck Thursday afternoon for the latest installment of their nonleague saga and Crescenta Valley showed that despite its residence in Division II, it is more than up to competing with Hart, pulling out a 99-71 victory.

"The athletes definitely bring their best efforts and they focus on this meet, both Hart and Crescenta Valley," said Falcons Coach Jan Sakonju, whose team improved to 5-0 in dual meets. "We have this great rivalry where it's just fun competing and both teams step up and push each other to become better. Even though we're in different divisions, I think that rivalry still exists. I think both programs push each other to be better, regardless of which division we're in."

Led by double wins from Young Tae Seo and Josh Chi, the Falcons won nine of 11 events for a comfortable win, highlighted by a school record-breaking performance by Seo, which Seo effectively called, according to Sakonju.

The sophomore and reigning All-Area Boys' Swimmer of the Year won the 500-yard freestyle in 4 minutes 36.26 seconds before winning the 100 breaststroke in 57.59 to eclipse teammate Harrison Thai's 2010 mark.

"Young Tae's just been swimming phenomenally this year," said Sakonju, whose team is looking to contend for the Division II title after placing runner-up last year. "He said he was going to break [the record] today, he said he was going to hit 57. That was fun and to have one of the leaders of the team say, not only am I going to win, but I'm going to try do something special today, that feeds into the other guys' enthusiasm, as well."

Chi won the 50 freestyle in 22.42 and the 100 freestyle in 49.26, while the Falcons also got wins from Thai in the 200 freestyle (1:46.85) and Louis Wojciechowski in the 200-individual medley (1:58.31).

Crescenta Valley won all three relay events, as Thai, Andrew De Jong, Seo and Jake Ksendov took the 200-medley relay in 1:40.37 and Chi, Jason Suh, Ksendov and Wojciechowski won the 200-freestyle relay in 1:31.09 before Seo, Chi, Wojciechowski and De Jong closed the show with a win in the 400-freestyle relay in 3:17.04.

"Hart's in DI and that's a huge deal because we're a DII team," Chi said. "Coach [Sakonju] told us previously they were our big DII rivals, so I feel like we're still trying to continue this rivalry.

"It's really good competition, especially because these are the type of swimmers we're probably going to be seeing at [the CIF Southern Section] DII [finals]."

On the girls' side, the Falcons suffered a 117-55 loss with Iva Icheva's win in the 50 freestyle in 25.57 and Adrienne Ingalla's season-best time of 1:12.90 in the 100 breaststroke, good for second place, standing as highlights.

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