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University sweeps up titles at PCL finals
One of University's swim teams bolstered its resume as a CIF Division 1 favorite.
The other University squad upset a CIF Division 1 contender.
Yes, the Trojans' girls and boys rose above the crowded pool deck at Corona del Mar on Friday to stand out, no small feat considering the stiff competition at the Pacific Coast League finals.
University's two-time defending CIF champion girls blazed to meet-records in all three relays en route to a dominating league crown.
The Trojans' boys used a first-second finish in the breaststroke and improved freestyle speed to dethrone five-time defending league champion Corona del Mar.
In a sign of the league's strength, only University's Cheyenne Low and Irvine's Fletcher Norseen doubled with titles. The pair were voted the female and male swimmers of the meet, respectively.
"(The) PCL is really good competition," said Corona del Mar's Jared Namba, who broke 50-seconds in the 100-yard backstroke (league-record, county-leading 49.40) and 100 butterfly (runner-up 49.68).
University's girls highlighted their voyage by winning the 200 medley relay in a swift 1:43.99. The Trojans used the lineup of Low, Maggie Burton, Annie Tran and Maggie Hofstadter for the first time this spring and produced the fourth-fastest time in county history.
"We're just trying to get fired up for CIF," said Low, who captured the 100 free (51.34) and 100 back (56.73)."
In one of the best races of the meet, University senior Megan Rankin held off Woodbridge freshman Daniela Georges by 14 one-hundredths of a second to claim the 500 free in a county-leading and meet-record 4:47.01. Georges touched second in 4:47.15.
"The last 50, I wasn't going to let her beat me," said Rankin, who wore a training suit.
Rankin didn't rest for Friday and doesn't anticipate resting for CIF. Her focus is on June's Olympic Trials.
"I'm hoping to make top-eight in the 800 (meter freestyle)," Rankin said.
In another example of the league's strength, Georges, a rising freshman out of the Aquazot club, raced under the meet records entering the day but took a pair of silvers. She touched a narrow-second to Irvine's Emily Jiang in the 200 free (meet-record 1:49.37) with a 1:49.41.
Corona del Mar's Brynne Wong grabbed her third consecutive 100 fly title with a quick 55.20. The junior said she was motivated after a narrow loss to Hofstadter in the 50 free.
University's Zach Yong (58.68) and Michael Schiffer (58.88) finished first-second in the 100 breast to help seal the Trojans' title.
"That was huge," University coach Tom Norton said of the breaststroke finish.
In the 50 free, University hung tough by placing three swimmers in top-seven. The Trojans outscored Corona del Mar, 493-457.
Norseen also donned a training suit but scorched meet-records in the 50 (lifetime-best 20.84) and 100 free (46.30).
"Saving it (a technical suit) for CIF," Norseen said.
Norseen also didn't shave, taper or wear a swim cap.
"We'll see what happens at CIF. I'm excited," Norseen said.
Northwood's Michael Chang (49.46 in fly) and University's Corey Okubo (1:51.29 in individual medley) also impressed.
Chang just missed his lifetime-best time in the 100 fly in capturing his anticipated showdown with Namba and Okubo (50.54). Chang split the first 50 in a quick 22.83.
"They're just really great guys to race," Chang said of Namba and Okubo. "I know we push each other. They just help me get in the mood (to race). ... I went out the fastest (at the start) than I ever have before."
Namba said he also was motivated by the competition he faced Friday. But he also wants to swim faster.
He was anticipating entering the fly and 200 IM at CIF, but after moving the No. 4 all-time in the county in the backstroke, his schedule has another possibility.
"I feel like I'm catching more water (in the backstroke) than I used to," Namba said.
In the South Coast finals: Capistrano Valley's host boys and girls defended titles. The boys capped their win with a meet-record 400 free relay (3:06.45).
In the Trinity finals: Mater Dei boys edged Santa Margarita's host boys in the 400 free relay to clinch the legue title by 10 points. Mater Dei's Dylan Payne claimed the male swimmer of the year award.
JSerra's Katie McLaughlin sizzled in the 200 free (1:48.89) and 100 fly (54.45) and shared the female swimmer of the year award with fellow freshman teammate Kaitlyn Albertoli.
Santa Margarita's girls program won its 13th consecutive league title.
In the Sunset finals: Los Alamitos' Lynea Baudino won the 50 free in a school-record 23.40 to help the Griffins' girls take the title at Newport Harbor. Edison and league swimmer of the year Josh Smth won the boys title.
In the Sea View finals: Tesoro's boys and girls claimed their first league titles at El Toro. Laguna Hills' Morgan Nassif won the 500 free in a 4:53.49.
In the Century finals: Brea Olinda's boys won the league title while host Foothill won the league meet. Foothill girls won the meet to share the title with Esperanza.
In the Academy finals: Lindsey Engel of Crean blasted county-leading times in the 50 free (high-school best 23.30) and 100 back (54.97) while teammate Ella Eastin posted a county-leading 200 IM (2:01.65) at Woollett. Engel, a sophomore, ranks sixth in county history in the 50 free.
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