La Cañada, Flintridge Prep, Sacred Heart swim eye more progress at CIF

Both the La Cañada High and Flintridge Prep boys’ swimming teams are looking to improve in their respective CIF Southern Section divisions.

There isn’t much room for the Spartans, who finished sixth last year, to move up the Division I leader board, as they eye a top-five finish among some of the top teams in the state. The meet kicks off prelims Thursday at 9 a.m. and begins finals Saturday at 5 p.m.

On the other hand, the Rebels have hopes of moving from a team that didn’t have a swimmer in a championship or consolation final race in Division II to a championship contender in Division III, which begins Wednesday at 4 p.m. and concludes with a finals meet Thursday with a 5 p.m. start time.

“We’re really excited and it’s kind of a big step for us from making alternates last year and being maybe a real competitor this year in this division,” said Flintridge Prep Coach Ryan Goto, who credited new coaches like Ingrid Herskind for being “instrumental” in the program’s turnaround.

While La Cañada looks to move up from last year, it’ll be a tough task to even keep pace after graduating Bo Mattix, who led the Spartans to four top finishes in CIF in 2012 — third in the 100-yard backstroke, fourth in the 200-medley relay, eighth in the 100 butterfly and ninth in the 400-freestlye relay.

“We’re hoping we can,” La Cañada Coach Art Lopez said of following through and taking a top five spot in CIF. “We still got the younger kids, growing up and getting bigger, stronger and faster. It will be difficult because we are a small school, but it’s OK; we’ll take on the challenge and do it the La Cañada way.”

Brandon Nguyen will be relied on to lead La Cañada this campaign. The senior is seeded at the top of the 100-yard breaststroke with a seed time of 56.69 seconds that’s identical to Mater Dei’s Dylan Payne. He’s also seeded second in the 200 individual medley (1:48.02).

Garrett Chin is also poised to grab some big points for the Spartans. The junior is seeded in the top 10 of the individual medley (seventh, 1:52.92) and 100 backstroke (ninth, 51.55).

Nguyen and Chin will also likely swim the respective breast and backstroke legs in the 200-medley relay, which is seeded eighth with a time of 1:35.70, and be key legs in the 400-freestyle relay (20th, 3:13.83).

Peter Loakes, the Spartans’ top sprinter, will also likely take part in both relays and swim the 50 (ninth, 21.44) and 100 freestyles (16th, 47.20) for La Cañada, which also has Dane Bell (19th, 4:37.59) and Matt Varraveto (28th, 4:41.27) in the 500 freestyle.

Varraveto and Bell are also alternates for the 200 individual medley (37th, 1:58.69) and 200 free (38th, 1:45.17), respectively.

Like he did at the Prep League Finals, Marco Flores will hope to have a dominant day at CIF for Flintridge Prep.

“We want to go in, do our best and try to win,” said Flores, who’s ranked third in the 200 individual medley (2:01.02) and 100 breaststroke (1:01.12) and figures to play a big role in the respective second- and third-seeded 200-medley (1:40.71) and 400-freestyle relay (3:19.93) teams.

Bruce Park (18th, 1:52.21) and Gabriel Fernandez (36th, 1:55.15) will both swim the 200 freestyle. Park is also seeded seventh in the 100 butterfly (54.76) and Fernandez is 15th in the 500 freestyle (5:10.07).

Kevin Park will also compete in two events — the 200 individual medley (17th, 2:08.14) and 100 backstroke (12th, 57.57) — for Prep, which also has Carlo Sivilotti in the 50 freestyle (eighth, 22.42), William Newman in the back (22nd, 59.35) and as an alternate in the individual medley (2:13.35) and Gary Lee in the 100 freestyle (36th, 51.66).

“We knew coming down from Division II we were going to have a bit faster times, but we weren’t sure quite where we would be,” Goto said. “We knew we’d do rather well and have guys that can compete pretty well.”

After jumping 20 spots to a 14th-place finish in Division I last year, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy is looking to move up again into the top 10.

“We’re going to have seven to eight individual swims, at least two relays and a diver,” Sacred Heart Coach Steve Bergen said. “If we progress like we’ve been progressing and carry this into next week, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be top 10. We’re going to be a force next week.”

Kirsten Vose will lead the Tologs, who repeated as Mission League champions, again in her sophomore campaign. She is favored in the breaststroke (1:02.82) — an event she took runner-up in last year — and seeded third in the individual medley (2:03.94).

Sacred Heart is loading up in the breaststroke with freshman Kate Herrill (fourth, 1:03.76) and senior Emily Balog (22nd, 1:07.79) both swimming the event with Vose. Herrill is also ranked fifth in the 50 free (23.52) and Balog 29th in the individual medley (2:12.01).

Katie Altmayer will swim the 100 butterfly (eighth, 56.83) and 200 free (23rd, 1:54.57) for the Tologs, who have teams in the 200-freestlye (third, 1:36.95), 400-freestlye (21st, 3:40.40) and 200-medley (23rd, 1:52.67) relays.

The Flintridge Prep girls’ squad won’t likely contend for a CIF title, but Jennifer Langen will have a championship or two on her mind. The junior is seeded second in the 200 free (1:56.82) and ninth in the 100 free (54.95).

“I know there’s a lot of expectations, but they’re not really worried about it,” Goto said of his top-seeded swimmers Flores and Langen. “They’re there to have fun and show what they can do.”

Lauren Au will also swim the 100 breast (25th, 1:15.60) for Prep and team with Langen in the 200-medley relay (30th, 2:04.91).

The La Cañada girls’ team will be represented by Samantha Campbell in the backstroke (34th, 1:01.06) and Rachel Wong as the final alternate in the individual medley (37th, 2:14.05). Both will be key members of the 200-freestyle relay team (36th, 1:44.16).

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