Falcons rule Pacific League relays

BURBANK — Jan Sakonju didn't want to upset opponents with his answer.

Instead, one of his top swimmers was the one to provide the bulletin board material.

"We have to let them know who we are," Crescenta Valley High boys' swimmer Young Tae Seo said after the first Pacific League relays of the season. "We're CV. We're going to win by a lot."

Although Friday's relays at Burbank High had no impact in the race for the league title, Seo and his teammates sent a message to the rest of the league that they're well on their way to a 20th consecutive league championship.

Crescenta Valley's boys' varsity team won six relays and was disqualified in one other, as it accumulated 48 points en route to defeating Arcadia, 94-75. Glendale had 26 points and Hoover had eight. The relays took into account points scored on the junior varsity level, as well.

"We tried to send a message to league about how far we are," Seo said.

Added Sakonju: "It was a message to us. We wanted to perform well here. We want to prove to ourselves that we're going to compete to be the best."

The Falcons were the best team on the girls' side, as well.

Despite winning two relays to Arcadia's four, the Falcons took second place in the five other varsity races they didn't win in totaling 46 points. With the wins on varsity, Arcadia had 47 points, but Crescenta Valley defeated Arcadia, 84-75, in the total competition. Glendale was sixth with 25 points and Hoover was seventh with nine points.

"I think [Arcadia] was trying to prove that they could have an opportunity to win [league]," Falcon girls' swimmer Cameron Campbell said. "They do have competitors who can bring competition to us. We do have to watch out for them, but at the same time, I'm confident in our team."

Even though Arcadia won twice the number of events as the Falcons on the varsity level, Crescenta Valley Coach Pete Loporchio knows dual meets in league provide a different dynamic.

"It's different in a dual meet," he said. "I would compare it to playing Arena Football and football in Canada and football in the NFL.

"The relays give us an evaluation and where we're at. In a dual meet, we're more confident."

Campbell and Gabby Granados played a pivotal role for Loporchio. They were each part of the 400-yard individual medley and 200 backstroke relay teams that won their races in times of 4 minutes 44.40 seconds and 2:05.55, respectively. Sabrina Hatzer, an All-CIF Southern Section Division V first-team selection in water polo, and Any Aghakhanian joined their teammates on the individual medley team and Iva Icheva and Isabelle Seeto were a part of the backstroke team.

The Falcons' boys' team had a number of winning combinations.

Antonio Camarillo, Jacob Ksendzov, Jason Suh, Louis Wojciehowski, and Seo were each part of three winning relay teams. The Falcons won the 400 individual medley (4:05.73), 300 freestyle (2:22.16), 200 butterfly (1:42.95), 200 backstroke (1:47.88), 200 breaststroke (2:01.90), and the 400 freestyle (3:19.67) after being disqualified in the first event of the afternoon, the 200 medley.

"The setback in the beginning was a blessing in disguise," said Sakonju, who also received help from Parker Griffin, Gabe Park, Harrison Thai, Stephen Woo, and Edward Yi, who were each a part of two winning teams. "They had to get points."

Hoover Coach Kevin Witt and Glendale's Forest Holbrook each sought improvements from their teams.

"I'm looking for us to improve on our strokes and we're using this as a building block," said Witt, whose boys' team had a pair of fifth-place finishes in the 200 medley and 400 individual medley. "We're strengthening our transitions and our strokes. Once we get more experience, everything else will take care of itself.

"I've seen improvement in our conditioning. It's not where it needs to be, but it's getting better."

For Holbrook, Friday's relays were also about getting his team more experience.

He was pleased with his team's performances, especially his girls' 200 butterfly team of Melissa Gonzalez, Jacqueline Jones, Maddie Corpuz, and Biyouregh Boghozian, which finished in third in 2:11.15.

"We're trying to get all of our swimmers experience," Holbrook said. "We have a team of 100 swimmers and we're trying to get as many as possible.

"If we can compete and work on our turns and dives and not DQ, we're pretty happy."

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