Fountain Valley's Josh Bernardin celebrates after his team took first place in the boys 200-yard medley relay with a time of 1:34.63 during the Sunset League championships at Golden West College.

Fountain Valley boys emerge on top at competive Sunset finals


HUNTINGTON BEACH - The four-team boys race surfaced Friday at the Sunset League swimming finals with all of the drama it had promised.

Defending champion Edison, Newport Harbor, Los Alamitos and Fountain Valley each spent time in contention at Golden West College. Edison, Los Alamitos and Fountain Valley each held leads.

Los Alamitos coach Brent Danna chuckled in amazement at the one-point margin separating Los Alamitos and Fountain Valley after nine of the 11 events.

But the biggest moment arrived in the next race. The unranked Barons took the lead for good in the 100-yard breaststroke after Samuel Knott broke a long-standing meet record, helping catapult Fountain Valley to its first league title since 2007.

Fountain Valley scored 399.5 points to edge No. 9 Los Alamitos, 399.5-391.5, while Newport Harbor rallied to finish ahead of No. 10 and dual-meet champion Edison, 378.5-374.5, thanks to a school-record 400 free relay.

“It’s a tough league,” said Danna, whose Griffins tied Fountain Valley in the dual meet. “It’s about competing and going out and taking it.”

Related: Friday's championship leaderboard

Edison’s fifth-ranked girls defended their title by scoring 522 points to outdistance Los Alamitos at 480.

Knott seized the moment in the breaststroke. Before a large cheering section behind his Lane 3 block, he touched in a lifetime-best 57.22 seconds to break Olympian John Moffet’s 1981 meet record of 57.37 for Newport Harbor.

“That was definitely a swing swim,” said Fountain Valley coach Mike Nichols, whose team went 3-1-1 in league duals. “The group of guys that we have … all bought in and understood what it means to be a team.”

Fountain Valley staked its intentions with a sweep in the medley relay. Justin Nguyen, Knott, Kyle Reilly and Josh Bernardin won 1:34.63 while the Barons’ B team grabbed first in the consolation final.

The Barons' B 200 free relay also won the consolation title in 1:29.33 on a narrow touch by anchor David Engelman. The Barons edged Newport Harbor's B by four one-hundredths of a second.

"B relays really were big," Nichols said.

Edison’s Thomas Smith and Nora Deleske earned swimmer of the meet honors. Smith captured his fourth consecutive 200 individual medley crown with a lifetime-best and league-record 1:49.51. Deleske claimed her IM in a league-record 2:02.03

"It's more fun when you have four teams (in contention)," Smith told Danna afterward.

Newport Harbor’s 400 relay of Hayden Hemmens, Jason Trezciecki, Sawyer Farmer and Dominik Folkner clocked a meet- and school-record 3:04.88. The same foursome also won the 200 free relay in a quick 1:24.75, just off the Sailors' 2010 meet record.

Huntington Beach’s Ethan Wojciechowski swept the 50 (20.83) and 100 (45.70) freestyles in a lifetime-best and also split a sizzling 19.99 in the 200 free relay.

Wojciechowski, a sophomore who also plays water polo, shaved and tapered for Friday's meet. "I wanted to win," he said.

Fountain Valley’s Carly Perri broke the meet record in the 200 free with a lifetime-best 1:48.57 while Marina’s Joe Lastelic took the 500 free in a meet-record 4:31.67.

"This is a fast meet," Newport Harbor boys coach Aaron Peirsol said. "I guess with rain there comes life."

And on Friday, it was Fountain Valley's boys who showed the most growth.

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