Young Tae Seo's late dash leads Crescenta Valley High boys' swimming team to tie with Hart

PASADENA — There’s something that brings out the best in Young Tae Seo when anchoring the 4x400-yard relay team for the Crescenta Valley High boys’ swimming program.

Seo knows what the prevailing factors are that have helped him gather impeccable credentials and a championship pedigree — quality preparation and calmness. Seo was up to the task again Friday during a nonleague home meet against rival Hart at Pasadena City College.

Knowing Crescenta Valley needed a first- and third-place finish in the 4x400 relay, Seo did his part by turning in another masterful performance as he swam the winning final lap to help Crescenta Valley pick up an 85-85 tie.

“You know what you have to do and that’s staying calm and ready and all times,” said Seo, the reigning All-Area Boys’ Swimmer of the Year and Glendale News-Press Male Athlete of the Year. “You know you are going to be out of breath at the end of it, so you try your best and see what you can do.”

Hart held an 81-75 entering the final event.

Seo worked with Edward Yi, Eddie Gallebugh and Harrison Thai to finish in 3 minutes 11.93 second. Hart (4-0-1) took second in 3:12.50. Crescenta Valley’s second relay team of Stephen Woo, Jacob Ksendzov, Antonio Camarillo and Brian Dertli placed third (3:21.54).

A first- and second-place effort would have given the Falcons (6-1-1) the victory.

Crescenta Valley suffered a 105-65 defeat in the girls’ portion of the meet.

In the CIF Southern Section Division II championship in Riverside last season, Seo anchored the winning leg of the event to give the Falcons the title against Damien. On Friday, the Falcons were trailing in the relay leading up to Seo’s turn. The University of Florida-bound Seo worked diligently before using a burst of energy to catch and pass Hart’s Griffin Scott with about 15 yards to go.

“I told Harrison going into his turn to catch up as much as he could, but not fall behind too far,” Seo said. “I could see [Scott] starting to get tired at the midway point of our leg.

“On the last turn, I just felt like I had it.”

Seo’s effort drew praise from Crescenta Valley Coach Jan Sakonju.

“He’s writing his own story and leaving his legacy,” Sakonju said. “He proved again today what a phenomenal athlete he is.

“He’s had that competitive drive since the first day we had him and is an elite athlete. He’s got that confidence and determination that he can win. He was outstanding toward the end.”

Earlier, Seo won the 200 freestyle (1:41.53) and the 100 breaststroke (58.98). He began the meet working with Thai, Yi and Ksedzov to capture the 200 medley relay (1:36.94).

The Falcons also received a pair of individual wins from Thai in the 200 individual medley (1:59.99) and 100 backstroke (54.0). Yi won the 100 butterfly (52.02).

Tiare Coker won the lone event for Crescenta Valley (6-1-1) in the girls’ competition. Coker clocked 1:55.30 to take the 200 freestyle.

Hart won the remaining 10 events to improve to 5-0. Tamara Santoyo led the way with two individual victories, capturing the 50 freestyle (24.95) and 100 freestyle (53.13).

Crescenta Valley girls’ Coach Brent Danna said he’s not discouraged with the defeat.

“It’s only our first loss, so we just try to build off of it,” Danna said. “The effort level was there and we got some nice performances. We saw the best of what the best do in Hart. Now, we try to emulate that.”

Crescenta Valley will next participate in a Pacific League match at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday at Arcadia.

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