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Roundup: Depth pushes Irvine girls to PCL title
Irvine’s girls swimming team showed Friday how much it can accomplish with powerful roster depth.
The Vaqueros didn’t crown an individual or relay champion at the Pacific Coast League Finals at the Woollett Aquatics Center, but won the meet to recapture the league crown outright for the first time since 2005.
Ninth-ranked Irvine scored 428 points to finish ahead of No. 8 Woodbridge (390) and No. 7 Corona del Mar (370). The Vaqueros lost tight dual meets to both teams in league. Their depth surfaced Friday with victories each of its B relays.
“We learned that everyone matters as we had great depth without any (event) wins,” Irvine coach Scott Hinman said in a text.
Corona del Mar freshman Eva Merrell and senior Meagan Popp helped highlight the meet. Merrell claimed the 100 butterfly in a county-leading 53.35 seconds while Popp touched first in the 200 individual medley in a swift 2:01.31. Merrell’s time ranks second in county history.
Daniela Georges of Woodbridge won the 500 free in 4:54.09, outdistancing Irvine’s Julia Wright (5:05.00). The Arizona-bound Georges earlier clocked a season-best 1:48.31 for a first-place touch in the 200 free.
University’s top-ranked boys racked up 511 points to handle No. 2 Corona del Mar (400) and No. 3 Northwood (352). Fourth-place Beckman rose up to capture the 200 free relay. Justin Le, Alex Holder, Fernando Ferreira Velazquez and Matt Lee clocked a school-record 1:25.58.
University’s Will Hofstadter continued to dominant the sprint-freestyle with a 45.52 to take the 100 free. Corona del Mar’s Tyler Lin topped a strong field in the breaststroke to touch in a county-leading 55.65.
In the Trinity League:
Mater Dei’s seventh-ranked boys scored 580 points to knock off No. 4 and defending champion Santa Margarita (523) for the league crown, while Santa Margarita’s top-ranked girls cruised to a title defense at JSerra.
In the girls 200 free, Santa Margarita freshman Samantha Shelton out-touched senior teammate Katie McLaughlin by seven one-hundredths of a second for the victory in 1:47.78. Shelton earned swimmer of the year honors while Santa Margarita’s Alex Qu and Grant Shoults shared the boys award. Shoults captured the 200 IM in 1:48.98.
In another dual of teammates, JSerra's Sonia Wang edged Karli Thuen by less than a second to take the 200 IM in a meet-record 2:00.16. Thuen touched in a high school-best 2:00.84, moving her to ninth in county history.
In the South Coast League:
Nick Norman of host Capistrano Valley won the 500 free in a county-leading and meet-record 4:19.97 – placing him fourth in county history – while Dana Hills’ boys and Tesoro’s girls won team titles.
Freshman Owen Kao captured the 200 free in a meet-record and county-leading 1:38.59 to help the Dolphins claim a third straight league crown. Dana Hills’ 400 relay of Kao, Shane Forker, Michael Smith and Trent Pellini blazed a first-place 3:04.60. Pellini also set a meet-record in the breaststroke with a 56.23.
San Clemente’s Josh Swart won the backstroke in a meet-record of 48.91.
Tesoro freshman Jessica Epps claimed the 100 free in a meet-record 50.82.
In the Empire League:
Cypress’ boys and girls swept league titles at Kennedy while the Fighting Irish claimed the most valuable swimmers awards. Roselyn Empremsilapa and Clara Kim shared the girls honors while Rodrigo Baca and Akili Allen took the boys.
In the Crestview League:
Foothill’s boys and girls swept league titles at Villa Park. Foothill’s Emily Konishi was selected girls swimmer of the meet, and Esperanza’s Mark Wyse and Foothill’s Spencer Kendall shared the boys award.
In the North Hills League:
Brea Olinda's host boys cruised to the league title while Canyon's girls edged Brea Olinda, 334-328, to take the other championship. Brea Olinda freshman Lindo Cho and Brea Olinda's Diego Pabalan earned swimmer of the meet honors.
In the Garden Grove League:
La Quinta girls scored 513 points to outdistance five-time defending champion and host Garden Grove (450) for its first league championship since 1994. Garden Grove boys secured a sixth straight league crown.
In the Sea View League:
Aliso Niguel's boys and girls swept at El Toro to claim their first championships in swimming. Mission Viejo's boys and girls finished as runner-ups.
In the Orange Coast League:
Laguna Beach's boys and girls defended their titles in dominant efforts. The Breakers girls won 10 of the 11 events while Laguna Beach's boys claimed eight of 11. Erik Juliusson helped pace the champions by capturing the 100 butterfly in 49.72.
Estancia's Brandi White won the backstroke in 1:03.15 to prevent the sweep on the girls side. Calvary Chapel broke up the sweep on the boys side with three victories, including a sweep of the sprint-freestyles by Donny Hadden (21.46, 47.17).
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