It will be hard to top last year’s dramatic conclusion, as the Crescenta Valley High boys’ swimming team just edged Damien, 301-293, for the CIF Southern Section Division II title in the last race of the meet.
The Falcons will look to match it and maybe even save some of the drama, though that’s easier said than done.
“Well, it's not a surprise to anyone the talent that we have on this roster,” Falcons Coach Jan Sakonju said of how last season will impact 2013. “We were the CIF champions last year, obviously, there are teams focused on beating us because they want to win CIF this year.”
Before CV has another shot at CIF it will have to take care of business in the Pacific League. The Falcons, who were 6-0 in league last year, are in line to win their 21st consecutive league title and 30th in program history with standouts Young Tae Seo and Harrison Thai returning for their final high school campaigns.
“I don't think there's any program here, not only in Crescenta Valley, but any school that matches that,” Sakonju said of his team’s dominance in league. “We always talk about legacy, passing the torch, maintaining tradition and that league championship and that streak is something that we look to continue every year. …There’s an amount of pride in maintaining that.”
Seo, the reining Division II champion in the 500-yard freestyle and 100 breaststroke, and Thai, last year’s 200 individual medley and 100 backstroke champion, won’t be able to deliver a second CIF championship on their own.
The Falcons will rely on sophomore Edward Yi (100 butterfly, 500 free, relays) and seniors Jake Ksendov (100 breaststroke, 50 free) and Parker Griffin (100 butterfly, 500 free) to hopefully score some big points in CIF and throughout the season. Seniors Antonio Camarillo, Andrew Lockwood and Stephen Woo will also be members of CV’s relay teams.
“To win CIF it has to be a team effort,” Sakonju said. “We have to get guys that aren’t going to win their event, but if they can just place and get a point here and point there.”
Flintridge Prep is gearing up for another run at a Prep League title after it slipped from second to third late in the 2012 league championship meet.
Rebels Coach Ryan Goto is very optimistic about this year, as he returns most of his lineup with some improving and a new impact swimmer in the mix.
“We are definitely a lot stronger than we were last year,” Goto said. “The confidence from last year carried over and now I think we have a pretty solid team.”
Leading the pack is senior Bruce Park, who swam the 100 free, 100 butterfly and relays last year. Marco Flores, the league champion in the 500 free and 200 individual medley in 2012, highlights a group of returning juniors with Kevin Chang, Kevin Park, William Newman and Carlo Sivilotti also standing to have a big impact this year.
Goto is also welcoming a new face in sophomore David Shin, who specializes in the breaststroke, to the team.
“The boys have a lot of depth and we have the numbers this year, as well,” Goto said. “I think our numbers are going to swell as the weeks go on.”
With Crescenta Valley favored to win league, Glendale High Coach Forest Holbrook is focused on individual improvement for his swimmers after a 1-5 finish in league for sixth place last year.
“Our team goal is just for every swimmer to improve their times,” Holbrook said. “It’s really tough for us to try and compete for a league championship. We really measure our success on our athlete’s [personal records].”
The Nitros will be led by captains Jayson Wilia and Bijan Rezvani, a freshman and junior, respectively.
Rezvani has swam in distance races over the past two years, but he’s going to transition to a freestyle sprinting role this year.
“Jayson should help our group a lot, he is a fantastic swimmer with great experience swimming at the club level,” Holbrook said. “He can swim every stroke very well, we're really fortunate to have a swimmer like Jayson with us.”
Hoover is looking bounce back from an 0-6 campaign last year under second-year coach Kevin Witt.