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McLaughlin leads Santa Margarita girls to Millikan Relays title
Santa Margarita’s girls swim team utilized its depth and a pair of speedy anchors to defend its title at the Millikan Southern Section Relays on Saturday night in Los Alamitos.
Anchor Katie McLaughlin’s dash of nostalgia provided another boost.
The U.S. national team member and freshman Samantha Shelton rallied the Eagles for two early victories and then helped the county’s top-ranked team close with two more first-place finishes at the Joint Forces Training Base.
The reigning Division 1 champion finished with 258 points to outdistance Millikan stalwart Edison (226) and Foothill (176) for a third straight title.
“They’re No. 1 for a reason,” Edison coach Diggy Riley said of Santa Margarita, which also claimed the Capistrano Valley Relays and defeated No. 2 Tesoro.
Santa Margarita was seeded first in six of the seven events but finished with four titles, including three in comeback fashion. The Eagles placed no lower than third in the other three races.
In her final Millikan meet, McLaughlin sizzled in all three of her races but her meet-opening anchor in the 400-yard individual medley provided a lasting signature. She rallied the Eagles from tied for second entering the final leg by splitting an eye-popping 55.49.
“That would have been on our boys 4x100 IM (at Millikan last week),” Santa Margarita co-coach Ron Blanc said. “Maybe we would have caught Uni.”
The Cal-bound McLaughlin said afterward that it was likely her “last 100 IM.” She teamed with Bela Patino, Kristi Fecarotta and Isabelle Odgers to clock a school-record time of 4 minutes, 0.9 seconds.
Shelton then anchored the Eagles’ 300 free relay by splitting a swift 23.28 to rally the team of Camryn Barry, Allison Plamondon, Audrey Johnstone, Jeni Griffin and Fecarotta to a first-place touch in 2:28.99.
Santa Margarita closed by rallying to claim the 400 free relay in 3:30.73. Shelton (51.74) and McLaughlin (49.44) took care of the back-half but the Eagles also got strong efforts from Barry (53.74) and Abigail McShane (55.54).
The Eagles’ 200 medley won by almost three seconds as Andrea Laliena and Amy Qin took the backstroke and breaststroke before McLaughlin and Shelton raced the butterfly and free to bring the Eagles to the wall in a school-record 1:45.67.
“I think we’re getting better, especially as the season goes along,” McLaughlin said. “We’re getting used to swimming with each other and just bonding more as a team. … We’re set up for a good (second) half of the year.”
Edison’s 200 breaststroke relay of Nora Deleske, Meghan Kluck, Delaney Cleveland and Sierra Page claimed the county’s other title with a clocking a 2:05.89. Riley switched the relay order from prelims, moving anchor and No. 3 Deleske (30.21 leadoff) and Kluck to the top-two spots.
“We wanted a body-length lead going into that last leg because we knew we could hold the lead,” he said. "Our girls like swimming big."
Long Beach Poly used the combination of Fion Quach, Bella Magalong, Clare Leonard, Anja Oca and Saranna Quach to capture the butter and backstroke.
At the Mission Viejo Invitational:
Crean Lutheran’s girls finished fifth and San Clemente’s boys placed third to help highlight county performances at the Marguerite Recreation Center. Ella Eastin of Crean won the 200 free (1:50.32) and 100 fly (meet-record 53.74) on her 18th birthday. Capistrano Valley diver Camryn Hidalgo won the girls meet (582.30) while Dana Hills’ Jake Greenberg (494.70) took the boys.
Laguna Beach's Erik Juliusson also impressed, capturing the 200 IM (1:49.68) and 100 free (45.91).
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