Spartans still standing without standouts

LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — Two pillars of the La Cañada High swimming program have been missing most of the season.

The Spartans still haven't had a problem standing up to Rio Hondo League competition, as the boys' and girls' squads posted wins at home against Temple City Thursday.

La Cañada's boys won 10 of 11 events in a 119-51 victory and the girls took home seven races for a 99-71 win. Both victories set up a showdown between La Cañada and South Pasadena on Thursday for both league titles.

What makes the victories more impressive is the boys are without Bo Mattix and the girls Katy Campbell, who have both been busy with Olympic trial competition most of the year.

"It's been a little bit of a struggle so far this season," La Cañada boys' Coach Art Lopez said. "The hard thing is we haven't swam together as a team this season. I am hoping next week we get everyone healthy and swimming together as a team because we have league prelims and finals the week after that. The season is almost over and we haven't swam together as a team yet."

Brandon Nguyen made sure the Spartans, who improved to 4-0 in league, didn't slip without Mattix, as he racked up a pair of individual and relay victories.

Nguyen was most pleased with his victory in the 100-yard breaststroke in 59.24 seconds, which bested the CIF Southern Section Division I qualifying time of 1:00.

"I feel pretty good about my races today, especially the 100 breaststroke," Nguyen said. "I finally broke that barrier of 1:00 and the whole season I wanted to go 59 or faster. It makes me relax a little more, but I know CIF is going to be big competition."

Nguyen also won the 200 individual medley in 1:57.97 before pacing the victorious 200-medley and 400-freestyle relay teams of Peter Loakes, Symeon Stefan and Garrett Chin, which finished in 1:42.39 and 3:25.69, respectively.

Dane Bell and Chin also posted multiple individual victories for the Spartans.

Bell took the and 200 (1:53.06) and 500 freestyles (4:55.96) and Chin won the 100 backstroke (57.38) and 100 butterfly (55.02). Stefan nipped at Chin's heels in the fly before taking second in 55.68.

Loakes won the 50 freestyle in 22.96 before joining Stefan, David Belcher and Shane Bell for a victory in the 200-freestyle relay (1:32.61).

On the girls side, La Cañada (3-1) leaned on Sarah Olson.

The sprinter won the 50 and 100 freestyle races in 25.5 and 56.6, respectively, before anchoring the 200- (1:49.93) and 400-freestyle relays (4:01.91).

In each relay, Olson was able to bring her team from behind for the win.

"I knew I had to finish strong [in the 200] if we wanted to win the relay and win the meet overall, so there was a lot of pressure, but that's always exciting in relays," Olson said.

La Cañada Coach Kristen Dronberger was never worried with Olson in the final 50 or 100 yards.

"It's just nice to be able to relax," Dronberger said. "I don't have any worries with Sarah closing a relay or Katy closing a relay. Those are my two go-tos in the last leg."

Samantha Campbell and Justine Lee joined Olson in the 200- and 400-freestyle relays. Morgan Herrek also swam the 200 with Rachel Wong taking part in the 400.

Samantha Campbell also won the 100 backstroke (1:07.4) and 500 freestyle (5:47.6) for the Spartans, who got their final win in the 200 medley relay (2:09.5) from Wong, Herrek, Caitlyn Seto and Savannah Scilley.

"All the swimmers swam really well today, but our varsity team really shined so I was excited," Dronberger said. "I think that we've started swimming a lot harder in recent meets. It's showing the girls really want to win and if you have swimmers that will swim until they're about to die that's something any coach would love to have."

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