Spring notes: Peirsol makes his debut
The large straw hat and sunglasses offered protection from the sun but briefly hid his identity Saturday afternoon before the boys Millikan Southern Section Relays. But as he approached, the embroidered name on his shirt - Coach Aaron - gave him away.
In his typical low-key and humble style, five-time Olympic gold medalist and world-record holder Aaron Peirsol made his debut as the coach-of-record for his alma mater, Newport Harbor.
Peirsol strolled the pool deck at the Joint Forces Training Base with a clipboard. He talked to his swimmers and coaches with a smile and ease that characterized a hall-of-fame career. And when the sun was gone, so were his hat and sunglasses.
“He’s easy to talk to,” Newport Harbor swimmer Dominik Folkner said of Peirsol. “He really knows how to (relate) with a swimmer at a personal level.”
For Peirsol, 31, that’s easy.
“It’s the same group of guys that I went through school with, just a different (age),” he said Saturday.
“(They all have) various interests. The whole gamut. (Water) polo guys, swimmers, guys who love the ocean, junior guards, lifeguards. … I’m actually kind of jealous right now. These guys are going to have a good day.”
Arguably the greatest backstroker in history, Peirsol has jumped into the pool during practices, but his racing days over. However, the spirit of his Olympic triumphs lives on. Folkner said before Saturday’s meet, Peirsol shared a story of racing the medley relay on the final day of the 2004 Olympics.
“He basically knows everything about swimming,” Folkner said.
Peirsol wants to share his knowledge. Newport Harbor is his first coaching job.
“I really feel blessed to do it,” he said. “It’s at my alma mater. I had some time to be able to help and they kind of were in need of some help. …For me, it couldn’t be more appropriate right now.”
Peirsol resides in Newport Beach and has a few other interests, too. He hopes to work as a lifeguard this summer and is an investor/supporter for a new swim school, Evolution Swim Academy, in Mission Viejo.
He has partnered for the school with former swimmers Felipe Delgado, Gabe Woodward, Larsen Jensen (Mission Viejo) and Derya Buyukuncu (Woodbridge). Delgado, the founder of the school, Woodward, Peirsol and Buyukuncu each swam for the Irvine Novaquatics club.
- DAN ALBANO
TRACK AND FIELD
Connor Meech of San Juan Hills posted the fastest time in the state this year in the 300-meter hurdles at the Asics Triton Invitational on Saturday at San Clemente High.
The senior finished in 38.37 seconds, moving ahead of the 38.79 posted by Templeton’s Clayton Mackay.
Mission Viejo’s boys sprinters collected several victories in the same meet. Chris Brown took the top spot in the 100, and Abrae Booker-Currin won the 200 and the Diablos’ relay team finished first in the 400 (43.28).
Esperanza sophomore Bronson Osborn delivered winning tosses of 55-05.5 in the shot put and 165-04 in the discus. ...
Los Alamitos’ boys and girls relay teams broke school records Saturday in the California Relays at Cerritos College.
Anijah Green, Sara Limp, Katherine Izzo and Ashley Willingham set a school record in the 1,600 medley relay with a time of 4:04.69.
The Griffins’ broke also broke the school for the event. Manny Gomez, Andrew Carty, Brandon Douglas and Thomas Heib clocked in at 3:28.34 to win the race.
The previous records for the Griffins’ relay teams were both established at the 2013 Arcadia Invitational. ...
Edison senior AJ Beynon, one of the county’s top jumpers, is expected to miss three weeks after sustaining a knee sprain at the Redondo Invitational. Beynon is third in the county in the high jump with a mark of 6 feet, six inches.
- ANDREW TURNER
Beckman, the defending CIF-SS South Coast Regional team champion, was off to a dismal start this season after losing three consecutive matches.
The Patriots’ future seemed much brighter after it teed off against Pacific Coast League rival Corona del Mar last week.
All five scoring players finished under par at Tustin Ranch Golf Club and the Patriots set a school record with a 171, meaning they were 9-under-par as a team.
Daniel Eber medaled with a 3-under-par 33. Everton Hawkins and Brett Robinson each carded a 34, and Jin Jen and Connor O’Hern both posted a 35 to help lead Beckman to a 23-stroke victory.
“We just started out season playing really poorly against some good teams, maybe not as mentally focused as we should be, forgetting how much hard work it takes to play well,” Beckman coach Penn Bushong said. “Guys kind of had a wakeup call. We seem to be getting better every match and starting to reach our potential.”
- DAMIAN DOTTORE
Capistrano Valley’s boys volleyball team captured the title at La Jolla Beach City Invitational. The Cougars went 7-0, defeating Desert Vista of Arizona in the final, 25-22, 20-25, 15-11.
Juniors Bobby Gaines and Colby Elder and senior Grant Friedman earned all-tournament honors.
- DAMIAN CALHOUN
The Orange County Chapter of U.S. Lacrosse selected the team that will represent O.C. at the U.S. Lacrosse Women’s National Tournament on May 23-24 in Bethelem, Pa.
The following players were selected after a one-day tryout Saturday: Taylor Austin (San Juan Hills), Jensen Coop (Corona del Mar), Shelley Cummings (Mission Viejo), Erin Di Bernardo (Santa Margarita), Journey Fischbeck (San Juan Hills), Marissa Gerchick (Beckman), Emily Grimes (Aliso Niguel), Daisy Haas (Los Alamitos), Katie Hendrix (Newport Harbor), Katrina Lopez (Los Alamitos), Michele Macha (Mission Viejo), Cameron Manor (St. Margaret’s), Quinnlyn Mason (Aliso Niguel), Kennedy Mulvaney (Corona del Mar), Noelani Murayama (St. Margaret’s), Sofia Naumovski (El Dorado), Sydney Payne (Mater Dei), Campbell Poe (Los Alamitos), Rylie Siegfried (Newport Harbor), Sophia Silane (Woodbridge), Claire Welter (San Juan Hills) and Cailin Young (St. Margaret’s).
- DAMIAN CALHOUN