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Spring notes: CIF sees 'bigger' future for new state meet

STAFF REPORTS

California’s inaugural CIF State Swimming and Diving Championships didn’t attract the majority of the top Orange County swimmers, but the state organization remains excited about the future of the meet even with a new obstacle on the horizon.

“This is only going to grow and become bigger and bigger,” Roger Blake, executive director of the CIF state, said over the weekend at the meet in Fresno.

“I’m elated. I think (the meet) is fantastic. It’s almost shocking that it has taken us 100 years to have it. We have the best swimmers in the nation growing up in California.”

The state has two years left on a three-year agreement with Clovis West High to host the meet. Next spring, the championships could face competition from the U.S. Olympic Trials, which begin June 30, 2016.

But Blake’s optimism stems from the state’s experience with its boys and girls golf championships.

“When we started boys and girls golf championships,” he said, “we had the same thing come up. There would be some great U.S. golf events going on, and the first two, three years, some students would choose to go do that instead. That really hasn’t happened since year three.”

Blake also said holding the meet earlier in May would help. He is generally in favor of moving up all competition calenders.

The state meet featured about 700 students from over 200 schools across the state.

The championships received positive reviews from swimmers who experienced a few of the touches of a top USA Swimming meet. The finalists for each event were paraded to the starting blocks with music blaring and the top-six finishers received medals during an awards ceremony.

“The parading out got me so excited,” said JSerra’s Kaitlyn Albertoli, who helped the Lions capture the girls team title.

“I’ve been on the podium once before in my life, so I’m going to be honest, this was kind of cool,” JSerra senior Karli Theun said.

- DAN ALBANO

TRACK AND FIELD

The county produced 28 individual event champions Saturday at the CIF Track and Field Finals. Eight of those championships came from two events – pole vault and discus.

Jett Gordon’s clearance of 15 feet, 6 inches allowed the Marina standout to take the boys Division 2 crown and advance to this week’s Masters Meet. The junior’s victory came after he missed several weeks with a shoulder injury.

“It feels great to be back, he said. “That month out was killing me, and I was really having withdrawals for a while.”

It will be Gordon’s first time at the Master’s Meet, which will be held Friday at Cerritos College.

Kaitlyn Merritt of Santa Margarita headlined a trio of county girls who won pole vault titles Saturday. The Stanford-bound senior took home the Division 3 crown - her fourth consecutive year as a CIF-SS champion.

“It’s awesome to come out here and win this four times,” Merritt said. “It’s a great community out here. I love the crowd and all the girls.

“It’s a super fun meet. I’m honored to have been able to come out here all these years and jump at it and take home the title.”

Also topping their divisions were Dana Hills’ Claire Kao (Division 1) and Canyon’s Rachel Baxter (Division 2).

In the discus, Mater Dei’s Malik McMorris won his second consecutive Division 2 title.

The Master’s Meet discus competition takes place in a throwing ring on the southwest side of the stadium. It was in the Master’s Meet that the two-time champion unleashed a then career-best of 192-11 in his junior year.

“That’s my golden ring,” McMorris said of the Master’s Meet discus location. “I broke the school record there sophomore year. I threw 192-11 last year in that ring. We’ll see what I can produce this year.”

The senior also repeated as the Division 2 shot put champion Saturday.

Esperanza’s Bronson Osborn gave the county boys a second discus title (Division 3), while Orange Lutheran’s Brianna Uipi (Division 3) and Oxford Academy’s Xochitl Bryson (Division 4) accomplished the feat on the girls side.

- ANDREW TURNER, Contributing writer

BOYS VOLLEYBALL

Last year, the Corona del Mar boys volleyball lost in the CIF-SS Division 1 semifinals but was able to refocus quickly and eventually won the Division II title in the CIF Southern California Regional.

When this year’s tournament begins tonight, the Sea Kings will try again to bounce back from a dissapointing loss in the CIF-SS playoffs.

“The long-term goal, which isn’t that far away, is to hopefully get back here (Cerritos College) next Saturday,” CdM coach Steve Conti said following the Sea Kings’ loss to Huntington Beach in the Division 1 final this past Saturday night.

The regionals bracket is loaded with possibilities for revenge.

In Division III, Laguna Beach is the second seed and Saddleback Valley Christian is the top seed. Laguna Beach defeated SVC in last year’s regional final.

In Division I, if the Oilers are to make it three consecutive regional titles, they will likely have to go through a familiar foe, either Mira Costa of Manhattan Beach or Loyola of Los Angeles.

“I would like to end it (the season) right now,” Oilers coach Craig Pazanti joked Saturday. “But we have to go play a couple more matches next week.”

Saturday’s regional finals will be played at Cerritos College. The Division III match is at 3 p.m., Division II at 5 p.m. and Division I at 7:30 p.m.

- DAMIAN CALHOUN

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

Aliso Niguel’s Kathryn Plummer was selected to the 20-player U.S. National training team roster. The final 12-player roster will be determined in July. The team will represent the U.S. at the FIVB Youth World Championships, Aug. 7-16 in Peru.

- DAMIAN CALHOUN

GIRLS GOLF

Fountain Valley senior Lilia Vu and Troy sophomore Beth Lillie qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open, which will be played July 9-12 at Lancaster Country Club in Lancaster, Pa.

Vu earned her spot in the major championship after tying for first with LPGA rookie Allison Lee at the Goose Creek Country Club sectional last week in Mira Loma.

Lillie qualified through the Serrano Country Club sectional, finishing second at El Dorado Hills.

To be eligible to compete in these qualifiers, both Lille and Vu had to have a handicap index of 2.4 or lower.

- DAMIAN DOTTORE

FOOTBALL

San Juan Hills quarterback Patrick O'Brien committed to Nebraska.

“He's honored to have the opportunity to play there and he's glad his focus can soley be on his teammates his during senior season,” San Juan Hills coach Aaron Flowers said.

Nebraska was the first school to offer O'Brien earlier this spring.

- DAN ALBANO

HOCKEY

Mater Dei hired TJ Miller as coach for its new hockey program, which will begin playing next school year, the school announced.

Miller was most recently the assistant coach for the Bantam AAA Anaheim Jr. Ducks and head coach of the 16AA OC Hockey Club.


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