Dana Hills' duo of Shane Forker, left, and freshman Owen Kao helped the Dolphins defeat visiting San Clemente in the South Coast League on Tuesday. Forker won the 500-yard freestyle while Kao set the school-record in the 200 free.

Fast start carries Dana Hills' boys past San Clemente


Dana Hills’ No. 5 boys swim team braced for a tempest pool Tuesday with the arrival of preseason-ranked San Clemente.

The Dolphins experienced the visitor’s speed but not until after their own power calmed the waters of the South Coast League opener.

Dana Hills rode a sizzling start, impressive victories by freshman Owen Kao and junior Shane Forker and depth to defeat the Tritons, 94-76, and improve to 5-0.

“We took care of business,” Dana Hills coach Matt Rosa said. “We got an early lead and maintained and kept winning races, which was awesome and I didn’t expect.”

San Clemente’s girls and first-year coach Lindsay Warkentin beat Dana Hills, 92-78.

Dana Hills’ boys led the entire way by capturing the meet-opening 200-yard medley relay. Michael Smith, Trent Pellini, Jack McLaughlin and Bennett Williams combined for a winning time of 1 minute, 39.18 seconds, seventh-tenths of a second ahead of San Clemente.

Kao followed by capturing a loaded 200 freestyle in a school-record 1:41.25, slicing about a tenth of a second off Peter Baer’s 2005 standard. Kao used a strong second-half of the race to outdistance a field that included All-County freestyler Aidan Pastel of San Clemente (1:43.15), Forker (1:43.63) and the Tritons’ Josh Swart (1:44.27). All four were at least two seconds under the Division 1 consideration time.

“Fast heat,” said Kao, who trains with the Irvine Novaquatics at Soka University. “I’m a distance swimmer so I try to rely on my back-half.”

Pellini added the 200 individual medley (1:58.21) to Dana Hills’ victory collection before the Dolphins flexed their depth. In the 50 free, 100 butterfly and 100 freestyle, Dana Hills touched second-third-fourth to capture each event, 9-7.

Forker then added to the hot-stretch by taking the 500 free in Division 1 automatic-qualifying 4:35.18 that outdistanced Kao at 4:45.99. Dana Hills won the 200 free relay (1:28.64) to open a 77-47 lead.

“I think everyone swam a lot better than they expected,” said Forker, who sparked the 200 free relay. “I was really fired up.”

San Clemente’s finishing kick included a victory by Swart in the backstroke (season-best 51.79) and Pastel leading off the winning 400 free relay (3:15.15) in a swift 46.94. “Our focus is on league (finals) and CIF,” Pastel said.

Rosa said the Dolphins are aiming for their first South Coast League title. “That’s the goal,” he said. “(But) we are not done. I’m going to make sure the guys don’t sit back and think we’re done.”

In the girls meet, Emily Gough (5:19.90) and Lauren Amigleo (5:29.38) finished first-second in the 500 free to help lead the Tritons. Cassidy Humphrey of Dana Hills won the 200 IM and 100 butterfly.

Also in the South Coast League:

Tesoro 94, Trabuco Hills 76: Kyle Beeler of the host Mustangs and Kyle Cude of the Titans tied for first in the 50 free with times of 22.93 seconds to help highlight the meet. Quinn Gates of Tesoro almost made it a three-way for first, touching third in 22.95.

In the Sea View League:

Mission Viejo 102, San Juan Hills 68: Min Zhi Chua outdueled Brian Nguyen to capture the 100 breast (59.30) and lead the host Diablos’ boys (1-0 in league).

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