CV clinches shares of league

ARCADIA — Their methods differed distinctly, but the end result was the same for the boys' and girls' swimming teams from Crescenta Valley High on Wednesday — a second straight dual-meet sweep of previously league-unbeaten archrival Arcadia in the Pacific League dual-meet finale.

In clinching at least a share of the league crown for the fourth year in a row, the Falcons girls took first place in just two individual events and a relay, but squeezed enough points out of the remaining events via second- and third-place finishes to claim a 94-76 win.

"We have a really deep team and people were racing for more than just first place," Crescenta Valley's Adrienne Ingalla said. "I think after the break we were really motivated to keep pushing through and get as many points as we could."

And, while depth is certainly a trait the Falcons boys boast, as well, it was utter dominance that characterized the clinching of at least a share of their 19th straight title. Crescenta Valley placed first in every event to demolish Arcadia, 116-54.

The core of Young Tae Seo, Harrison Thai, Louis Wojciechowski and Josh Chi paced the Falcons (9-0, 6-0 in league), both in individual events — all were double winners — and relays as Crescenta Valley looked to use the end of its league season as a stepping stone toward bigger goals.

"It's been a great season so far. League meets are really great, but we have our eyes set on [the] CIF [Southern Section Division II title]," said Thai, who won the 200-yard individual medley in 1 minute 58.81 seconds and the 100 breaststroke in 1:00.18 and helped the Falcons finish runner-up in Division II last season. "That's the main focus, but Arcadia's our main rival and to beat them by so much, it feels good."

The Falcons' versatility was on display, as Wojciechowski won the 200 freestyle in 1:44.62 and the 100 butterfly in 53.38 and Seo provided wins in the 500 freestyle in 4:41.60 and the 100 backstroke in 54.66.

Chi handled sprint freestyle duties with wins in the 50 freestyle (22.28) and the 100 freestyle (50.09).

"This year we're so lucky to have so many talented guys that we can spread them out to make sure we won every single individual event," Crescenta Valley boys' Coach Jan Sakonju said. "We have that front line getting first place, but then what was great to see too was guys getting out there racing to get that second- or third-place finish to try to help us get those points."

Thai, Seo, Wojciechowski and Andrew De Jong won the 200-medley relay in 1:41.50, Rusty Blakey, Jake Ksendov, De Jong and Chi won the 200-freestyle relay in 1:32.50 and Wojciechowski, Chi, Thai and Seo closed the day with a win in the 400-freestyle relay in 3:16.83.

While already holding a slim lead, the Falcons girls (7-2, 6-0) began to pull away with some first-place finishes in the second half of the meet, beginning with the 200-freestyle relay, which Iva Icheva, Ingalla, Sabrina Hatzer and Heather Abrams won in 1:45.94.

Stacy Lee then won the 100 backstroke in 1:07.25 and Ingalla took the 100 breaststroke in 1:13.09 to give the Falcons an insurmountable lead going into the final relay.

"Coach [Peter] Kim and I really planned out the meet exactly as it panned out," said Falcons girls' co-Coach Pete Loporchio, who got second-place finishes from Ingalla in the 200 freestyle (2:06.28), Mackenzie Hobby in the 200-individual medley (2:54.41), Icheva in the 50 freestyle (25.72) and 100 freestyle (55.69) and Katie Lamar Bruno in the 100 butterfly. "We started out a little bit slow in the front end and picked it up in the back end. I think we had them believing in the team concept of high school swimming. They did a great job as a team."

Half of the league title will still be up for grabs at the league championship meet at Burbank High, which will begin with prelims on Tuesday and continue with the finals on May 5.

"We feel really confident," Ingalla said. "We know we're going to return a lot of swimmers for league finals after league prelims and we're really confident that we have the deeper team, so it should be fun."

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