University's Alejandro Ortiz, center, who swam the first leg, celebrates after a close Trojans' victory in the Boys' Varsity 400 Free Relay at Corona Del Mar High Wednesday.

University's boys don't let up against CdM


NEWPORT BEACH University’s meet victory was already secure Wednesday when another challenge surfaced in the 400-yard freestyle relay. The Trojans’ top-ranked boys swim team responded the only way it knew.

The reigning CIF-SS Division 1 champion rallied past No. 2 and host Corona del Mar to win by a narrow touch at the wall and cap their victory, 107-63, with a display of its competitive side.

In his first A relay anchor in the 400 this spring, University’s Judd Howard out-touched Corona del Mar’s Tim Hanson by six one-hundredths of a second for the victory, quickly drawing raised arms from the Trojans behind the blocks.

“You have to go for it. You can’t hold back anything … in any race,” said Howard, who teamed with Alejandro Ortiz, Daniel Tran and Andrew Knoell for the victory in 3 minutes, 12.19 seconds. "The more racing we do, the better."

University’s racing mentality emerged last season and was evident Wednesday as the Trojans improved to 3-0 in the Pacific Coast League. University sealed the meet victory after Tran led a sweep in the 100 backstroke by clocking a 50.69.

The Trojans also swept all three relays and the top three spots in the 100 freestyle.

“(Beating) CdM is very important,” said Howard, who split a 48.23 anchor to help the Trojans overcome a 47.53 leadoff by Tyler Lin. “It’s like (another) benchmark (for the season).”

University’s sweep in the 100 freestyle was especially revealing because it hasn’t always been known for sprint-freestyle strength. Corona del Mar traditionally has. Will Hofstadter touched first in 46.99 to pace teammates Ortiz (48.92) and Matt Wong (48.92).

“That was huge,” University coach Kevin Potter said. “Our weaknesses in the past were the freestyle. We’re stepping up.”

“You’re not going to find gaps in that lineup,” said Corona del Mar boys coach Barry O’Dea, whose team dropped to 2-1 in league. “We have some guys who need to step up.”

Both teams stepped up in the 200 individual medley. Tran, whose second leg helped rally the 400 relay, won in 1:51.55. Corona del Mar’s Justin Hanson (1:52.39) and Lin (1:52.84) also raced under the All-America consideration standard.

Tran split a 47.31 second-leg in the 400 free relay.

Corona del Mar’s sixth-ranked girls improved to 3-0 in league with a 95-75 victory. Freshman Eva Merrell won the butterfly (54.95) and backstroke (56.56) but also led off a season-best 200 free relay (1:38.88) with a 23.70, third fastest in the county. She combined with Nicole Lin, Sami Pratt and Meagan Popp in the relay.

After narrow victories against Irvine and Woodbridge, CdM girls coach Doug Volding scratched his top 400 free relay to give his girls a little break. "I know these girls (are) working hard and their faces lit up," he said.

In the Crestview League:

No. 8 Foothill boys 118, Villa Park 52: The host Knights finished first-second in both freestyle relays en route to the victory. "We're pretty deep," Foothill coach Jim Brumm said.

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