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FRANK BELLINO, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
JSerra's Catherine Lowengrub, shown swimming the 200-yard medley relay at the CIF-SS Division 1 championships, could help the Lions contend for a title at the inaugural CIF State championshp meet in Clovis.

Small but excited O.C. group headed to state meet

STAFF WRITER

Most Orange County swimmers who automatically qualified for this week’s inaugural state championship meet declined the invite, but enough accepted to form a small and intriguing armada bound for Fresno.

The psych sheet released Monday was highlighted by several swimmers from Crean Lutheran’s CIF-SS Division 2 championship girls team, including newly crowned national private high school record-holder Ella Eastin.

JSerra’s Sonia Wang and her teammates on the Division 1 runner-up girls squad also are expected to race, as are two-time CIF Division 1 breaststroke champion Tyler Lin of Corona del Mar, rising breaststroker Brad Prolo of San Clemente, Hayden Hemmens and Newport Harbor’s freestyle relays, Mater Dei’s Aislinn Light, Fairmont Prep’s CIF Division 4 champion breaststroker Edgar Chin and Foothill freestyler Spencer Kendall.

Sunset League 500-yard free champion Joseph Lastelic of Marina showed on the psych sheet as one of Orange County’s seven No. 1 seeds, but the Vikings have said he might scratch the meet.

“We’re really excited,” said Crean Lutheran coach Craig Brown, whose girls team could contend for a team title. “It’s a state championship – the first one. Every other state in the union has a state championship.”

The state meet begins Friday with girls diving and swimming prelims at Clovis West High. The boys diving and swim finals are Saturday.

Swimmers and divers at the CIF-Southern Section finals in Riverside shared various reasons for not attending the state meet.

Katie McLaughlin of Santa Margarita, who set a national high school record in the butterfly, cited a conflict with her school’s prom. Santa Margarita’s girls and University’s boys, both Division 1 team champions, won’t be represented at state.

Sonora’s Taylor Ault, who captured the 200 and 500 freestyles in Division 2, was among those who mentioned the club season. And some of girls in diving referred to final exams.

Club coaches Bill Rose of the Mission Viejo Nadadores and Mark Schubert of Golden West said they would advise their swimmers not to attend the state meet.

“We got two months of long course (Olympic distance) season left, two months,” Schubert said. “It’s Memorial Day weekend, that’s late.”

The state meet conflicts with the Irvine Novaquatics-hosted Speedo Grand Challenge in Irvine, which runs Friday through Sunday.

“I think most (of our swimmers) will attend our meet,” Novaquatics coach Ken LaMont said in late April.

County swimmers also gave a lukewarm response to the Southern Section’s Masters meet, which ended in 2011 after six years.

“Who knows how this (state meet) is going to work, if it’s going to be any better,” Aquazot coach Brian Pajer said during the season.

Brown called attending the state meet a personal choice, but he believes his club swimmers won’t compromise their competitive futures by racing in Fresno.

“They’ll do double (workouts) and they’ll catch up,” he said. “You only swim high school (once).”

Contact the writer: dalbano@ocregister.com


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