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Mater Dei rises to the top with huge jolt from Hockenbury
Christian Hockenbury fired his hand onto the wall, turned to see the timing board and unleashed a scream as he rose from the pool to flex his arms toward the dark clouds.
The Mater Dei junior, with plenty of help from his teammates and a friendly rivalry with Grant Shoults of Santa Margarita, jolted the Trinity League swimming finals Friday at Santa Margarita.
Santa Margarita’s girls emerged as serious contenders to claim a third consecutive CIF-SS Division 1 title, but the signature moment belonged to Hockenbury.
“That’s the most excited I’ve been in decades,” Mater Dei coach Ken Dory said of Hockenbury’s victory in the 50-yard freestyle in an Orange County-leading and meet-record 20.69 seconds. “It was good for everyone here. He’s a (water) polo player and a swimmer, so it unites everyone I think.”
Second-ranked Mater Dei certainly united to defend its title.
The Monarchs capitalized on the four-swimmer scoring format – one more than dual meets – by qualifying a foursome for the A final of the 200 freestyle, 200 individual medley, 100 freestyle, 500 freestyle and 100 breaststroke.
Mater Dei didn’t win any of those events but racked up the championship-winning points in a scenario it created with a strong performance in prelims. Mater Dei scored 594.5 points to sink No. 1 Santa Margarita (542).
“The whole season was (about) team,” Dory said.
Mater Dei’s 200 free relay also finished first. Jack Seybold, Kirby Slater, Clint Hurdle and Hockenbury combined to win in a meet-record 1:25.61.
The atmosphere turned raucous for the boys 400 free as Santa Margarita’s Shoults again dueled Hockenbury. Shoults split a 44.31 anchor to handle Hockenbury by a second and bring the Eagles to the wall in 3:07.08.
Shoults showed his team spirit, too. The Stanford-bound senior raced the 100 breaststroke, one of his lesser-known events, to compensate for the Eagles’ weakness. He touched second to teammate and double-winner Alexander Qu (57.77) with an automatic Division 1 qualifying time (58.54), but the Monarchs’ four finalists - Declan Ryan, Lucas Saliba, Ian Minsterman and Nick Sarmiento - grabbed third-fourth-sixth-eighth to give the Monarchs the event.
Shoults also brought the pool deck to its feet by sprinting past Hockenbury to claim the 100 free in a meet-record and county-leading 44.80.
Marc Morizono joined Shoults and Qu as a double-winner for the Eagles by sweeping the 200 and 500 freestyles.
Santa Margarita’s girls scored 668 points to outdistance Mater Dei (449) for their 17th consecutive Trinity crown. The Eagles’ trio of Samantha Shelton, Isa Odgers and Mackenzie Degn each won twice in strong times, and Santa Margarita also impressed in the relays.
Shelton (23.25 leadoff), Marriott Hoffmann, Jeni Griffin and Degn combined in the 200 free relay to touch in 1:34.81, smashing a JSerra 2012 meet record (1:35.67) that featured such notable swimmers as Katie McLaughlin, who attended Friday's meet.
“We definitely improved our standing and we have a really good shot at winning CIF,” Shelton said.
In the Pacific Coast League:
Northwood’s boys scored 444.5 points at the Woollett Aquatics Center to outdistance Corona del Mar (414.5) and University (411) for its first title, and Woodbridge’s girls outscored Irvine, 446-412, for the title.
Kate Krolikowski lowered her meet record in the 200 free (county-leading 1:46.89) and won the 500 free in a county-leading 4:48.60.
Northwood capped its title with a meet-record in the 400 free relay. Mack Nesbit, Gabriel Munoz, Cameron Hsieh and Hunter Hitchens combined for a 3:05.72.
In the Sunset League:
Edison’s girls and Los Alamitos won tight meets to claim titles at Golden West College.
Edison’s Nora Deleske won the 200 individual medley (1:59.91) and 100 breaststroke (1:01.88) in county-leading times. The junior moved to No. 4 in county history in the IM. Justin Nguyen of Fountain Valley won the backstroke in 49.55, and Huntington Beach’s 200 free relay of Ethan Wojciechowski, Jacob Cavano, Grant Brehm and Peter Crocker challenged the county record with a first-place time of 1:23.41.
Nguyen also captured the 200 free in a swift 1:37.65.
Marina's improved girls out-dueled Edison to take the 400 free relay. Jacquelyn Harris, Madeline Sandstead and Sage and Terra Matsushima combined for a school-record and county-leading 3:27.38, edging Edison at 3:27.49.
In the Crestview League:
Foothill's boys and girls swept league titles at Yorba Linda. Villa Park sophompre Dash Farr and Foothill's Cal-bound senior Courtney Mykkanen earned swimmers of the year. Farr captured the 50 free in 21.20 seconds and lowered his conference record in the breaststroke with a 57.54.
In the North Hills League:
The Brea Olinda and Canyon girls tied for the league crown while Brea won the boys.
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