Mackenzie Degn and the Santa Margarita girls positioned themselves at the CIF-SS Division 1 prelims Thursday to capture another title.

Shelton, Degn help Santa Margarita girls have big day at prelims


RIVERSIDE – Don’t tell the Santa Margarita girls that some consider swimming to be an individual sport.

The two-time defending CIF-SS Division 1 champions believe it’s a team sport, and raced like it Thursday to highlight an up-and-down prelims for Orange County at Riverside City College.

Santa Margarita’s girls combined their top-end speed and depth to strengthen their chances for another title at Saturday’s finals.

The Eagles claimed top seeds in the 200-yard freestyle and 100 butterfly courtesy of Samantha Shelton, qualified first in two freestyle relays, and watched freshman Mackenzie Degn cover the 100 free with a lifetime-best 49.92 seconds.

There also were less-noticeable – but still significant – efforts, including 21st-seeded Allison Plamondon taking the final spot in the consolation finals in the backstroke (59.43), and Marriott Hoffmann grabbing the No. 8 seed in the 50 free with a 24.00.

“There are so many good swimmers on this team who are really just under-represented because there are so many (fast) people,” said Santa Margarita senior Emily Boggess, who qualified for two finals after missing CIF last season because of a hip injury.

“There’s that second tier who just swim their hearts out. They’re really the base of this team.”

Woodbridge’s girls also turned in several standout efforts: Kate Krolikowski earned the top seed in the 500 free (4:48.77), and placed its three relay teams in finals. JSerra’s Katie Glavinovich qualified second in the 500 free with a lifetime-best 4:49.82.

The boys team race could be a battle for second behind Loyola of Los Angeles.

Dana Hills suffered a blow with the disqualification of South Coast League breaststroke champion Trent Pellini. The junior won his heat in 56.34 and would have qualified for finals, but he was disqualified for an extra dolphin kick, Dana Hills coach Matt Rosa said.

Mater Dei’s No. 2-seeded 200 free relay, along with No. 9 Newport Harbor, were disqualified for moving at the start.

The county boys did have two swimmers who earned two top seeds: Santa Margarita’s Grant Shoults and breakout performer Justin Nguyen of Fountain Valley.

Shoults qualified first in the 200 (1:35.01) and 500 (4:24.76) freestyles, his record-setting events from last May. The Stanford-bound senior seemed to cruise in the 500 with a smooth, long stroke before moving into high-gear for his final lap, which was his fastest (23.44).

“I’m happy with that,” he said. “I wasn’t pushing too much on that (500).”

Nguyen posted a county-leading and lifetime-best in the 100 free (44.86) and 100 backstroke (49.13). San Clemente’s Brad Prolo took the county lead in the 100 breaststroke by qualifying second with a 55.58.

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