Crean Lutheran's Elise Garcia, left, and Emily Eastin are trying to lead the team to its fourth consecutive CIF-SS swimming title.

Crean Lutheran girls prepare to battle for D2 title


RIVERSIDE – Crean Lutheran coach Craig Brown knelt at the edge of the pool Friday afternoon as his team’s swimmers raced for a spot in the final of the girls 400-yard freestyle relay.

With every potential point under the microscope at the CIF-SS Division 2 prelims, Crean Lutheran also raced to keep alive its dream of a fourth consecutive title.

“Let’s go second half!” Brown yelled to relay swimmers Emily Eastin and Elise Garcia.

Crean Lutheran kept its composure and raced well at the Riverside Aquatics Complex at Riverside City College while being pushed by Glendora.

Based on a scoring of prelims, Glendora projects to outscore Crean Lutheran, 302-296, at Saturday’s 10 a.m. final.

“It’s hard to do four in a row,” said Brown, whose team outdueled Glendora last season. “It will be close. … (Glendora) swam well.”

Crean Lutheran positioned itself to capture a second consecutive Division 2 title and fourth overall with a well-balanced attack. The Saints qualified all three relays for finals and featured CIF rookie Journey Werner in the 200 free.

They also qualified at least one swimmer for finals in each individual event. Glendora came up empty in the 50 and 100 freestyles but loaded events such as the 200 individual medley.

Crean Lutheran secured top seeds in the backstroke (Eastin, 54.96) and 500 freestyle (Brittany Kampfer, 4:52.02).

Garcia, a sophomore, delivered a lifetime-best in the 100 freestyle, qualifying second to Ayala’s Kenisha Liu with a county-leading 49.84.

“I’ve been trying to break (50 seconds) for so long,” said Garcia, also seeded second in the 50 (23.38).

Eastin said Crean Lutheran is motivated to keep its CIF tradition going.

“We’re staying confident,” the Michigan-bound senior said. “I want to carry on the legacy of my sister (Ella), and we want to win another. It should be fun.”

Freeway League standouts Lavona Harper of Sonora and Courtney Tseng of Sunny Hills extended their strong seasons by qualifying fifth (4:55.82) and sixth (4:55.85), respectively, in the 500.

Orange County will be well-represented in the boys meet. Resurgent Mission Viejo projects as a strong contender for the second-place plaque behind front-runner Damien of La Verne.

The Diablos, who claimed their first Sea View League title since 2007, capped the session by qualifying second to Damien in the 400 relay. The team of Min Zhi Chua, Joey Sabers, Shawn Archbold and Andrew Marilley clocked a time of 3:09.18.

Marilley (1:51.90) and Chua (1:52.44) qualified second-third in the 200 individual medley behind Laguna Beach’s Cameron Karkoska (1:51.40).

Other top seeds were clocked by Laguna Hills’ Matt Hales in the 500 free (4:30.06), Sonora’s Ben Blevins-Boor in the 100 free (45.95) and Calvary Chapel’s Andrew Koustik in the breaststroke (56.65).

“I’ve wanted to swim a great 100-yard breaststroke all year and I finally got it today,” Koustik said. “(The final) should be great.”

Koustik’s lifetime-best tied him with Redlands East Valley’s Jack Moyles for the top seed in a final that includes Chua, Laguna Beach’s Max Morgan and Kenton Quan of Canyon.

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