Last year’s North Coast Section (NCS) featured perhaps the greatest overall senior class of swimmers in NCS history, leaving in their wake NCS records in 16 of 22 total events. That meet will forever be remembered as the year in which 3 boys (Stumph, Wiser, Silverthorn) raced wire to wire in the 100 breaststroke, with all three breaking the national record. And then, not to be outdone, in the very next race, the women of Carondelet broke a national record of their own in the 400 Free Relay.
While it probably won’t feature as many broken records as last year, this year’s meet will more than make up for it with tightly contested finals, featuring multiple potential champions. While last year’s winners were pretty easy to pick, this year’s races are more wide open and there are few “sure things.” There are some new underclassmen in Northern California that are primed to usher in a new era. And there are some seasoned veterans who wish to tell them “not just yet.”
The Men’s Meet
The Men’s Team Race
Campolindo has won the Men’s NCS championship for the past nine years, but 2013 marked the graduation of a superlative class of athletes. Will this be the year the streak comes to an end? The battle for the men’s team championship will come down to a classic struggle of depth vs. stars vs. tradition:
Depth: Last year, Nothgate high school finished 8th. This year Northgate, competing for its first ever team championship, tops the psyche sheet point total. Northgate features half a dozen swimmers likely to score in two events each: Max Bottene (So.), Calvin Kirkpatrick (Jr.), Mason Tittle (Jr.), Eric VanBrocklin(Jr.), Stanley Wu (Jr.), Michal Zyla (Sr., Columbia). With six very fast swimmers, all three of their relays will be loaded.
Stars: Granada, also competing for it’s first ever team championship, features two of the meet’s brightest overall lights in Maxime Rooney (So.) and Nick Silverthorn (Sr., Cal), along with two more stars in Trent Trump (Sr., Grand Canyon University) and Bryce McLaggen (Sr.). But, four super fast swimmers only makes for two great relays, and Granada may have to compromise one.
Tradition: While Campolindo may not have the team this year to win the meet, the Big Red Machine won’t go away without a fight. They feature a nice mix of experienced seniors such as Alex Sheiman and Grant Sivesind as well rising stars such as freshman Jolen Griffen (who everybody will soon know about–He’s seeded second in the wide open 100 fly with a 49.55 and has beautiful underwaters) and sophomore Cole Stephens.
Ultimately, the meet could be decided by diving. Granada has 4 divers seeded in the top ten, while Northgate has none and Campolindo has only one (seeded 13th).
Scoring off the psyche sheet going into NCS is a dubious exercise because it’s always unclear who tapered for their league championships, who will taper for NCS, and who will save something for the upcoming long course season. But, throwing caution to the wind, here’s the top five men’s team scores according to the seed times:
|San Ramon Valley||168|
Some of the men’s races and stories to keep an eye on include:
Men’s 200 Free
This year, the men’s 200 free is the Wild West with just about every gunslinger entering the corral. In a surprise development from a team point perspective, Granada has three very fast swimmers in this race — Each capable of winning.
Four years ago, Nick Silverthorn set the NAG record in the 13-14 200 free. Two years ago, Maxime Rooney, both a club and high school teammate of Silverthorn’s, broke Silverthorn’s NAG 200 record. This year, the two former NAG record holders will face off in the high school championships. Meanwhile their teammate, Trent Trump has been 1:38.09 in the event and will also contend, raising the possibility of a 1-2-3 finish for Granada.
But the odds of such a finish are long. There are at least half a dozen other guys that will contend for this particular title. This race is so loaded that there’s a very good chance that someone will swim a sub 1:40 and still not make the championship final. This event will also include a race within the race that will extend four more years into the Ivy League between Talbot Jacobs (Sr., College Prep, Brown) Michal Zyla (Sr., Northgate, Columbia), and Tony Shen (Sr., Foothill, Dartmouth). But Nick Bigot (Sr., Terra Linda, Duke), Eric VanBrocklin (Jr., Northgate), and Jon Knox (Sr., Analy) will all challenge for the win too.
Other Questions, Stories and Observations
Gabe Ostler (Sr., Miramonte, Notre Dame) heads into the 50 as the only man under 21 (20.95). But the field is tightly packed, with the 40th entry seeded just over 22.2. Expect several guys to join Oster in the sub 21 club.
College Prep will undoubtedly earn the men’s small school shout out again this year (~365 students). They are led by Sr. Talbot Jacobs (Brown), as well as the first and third seeds in the 100 butterfly, Arjun Sharma (Jr.) and Grant Watson (So.) respectively. Can a small school finish in the top 5 teams overall?
Last year Nick Silverthorn (Sr., Granada, Cal) broke the national record in the 100 breaststroke…and finished third. Assuming he’s tapered, how low can Nick go?
Silverthorn also held the NCS record in the 200 free until it was broken last year when he finished as runner up. Can Silverthorn regain the record? Or, can Maxime Rooney challenge Jackson Miller’s NCS records from last year in both the 200 free (1:35.86) and 500 free (4:23.85)?
Last year Granada’s 400 Free Relay was just out-touched by .03 finishing second in a 3:01.73. This year they are the favorites, return all four guys from last year. Three of them are seniors. Can they finish their high school careers by breaking 3:00? The boys public high school record is 2:59.36. The boys overall high school record in the 400 FR is…insane.
The Women’s Meet
The Women’s Team Race
While the men’s team race will come down to a battle of depth vs. stars vs. tradition, this year’s women’s team championship should be controlled by a team possessing depth, stars and tradition: San Ramon Valley (SRV).
In terms of depth, SRV is bringing 20 swimmers to the championship. The most of any team. In terms of stars, SRV brings in the following five top seeds: The Medley Relay, Christina Chong (So.) in the 200 IM, Gianna Garcia (So.) in the 100 Fly, Claire Therien (So.) in the 500 Free, and Heidi Poppe (Sr., Stanford) in the 100 breaststroke. In terms of tradition, last year the two time defending champion SRV was upset by a star studded Carondolet team. SRV wants their trophy back.
But, champions never give up the hardware easily. Despite the graduation of a few very bright stars, the Carondelet cupboard is far from bare. Carondelet will bring in the following four top seeds: Maddie Murphy (So.) in the 100 Free, the 200 Free Relay, Samantha Coloma (So.) in the 100 back, and the 400 free relay.
In nearly every race, each high seed for SRV is closely followed by a swimmer from Carondelet, and vice versa. But in the end, the depth of SRV should overcome. The psyche sheet team scoring is as follows:
|San Ramon Valley||359|
Women’s 100 Breaststroke
Last year SwimSwam predicted the men’s 100 breaststroke final would be the race of the championships. And the boys did not disappoint. This year SwimSwam (ok, just me) predicts that a 100 breast final will once again be the marquee race of the meet. But this time it will be the women’s side that will generate the excitement.
Last December, at Winter Jr.s in North Carolina, Heidi Poppe (Sr., SRV, Stanford) posted a 1:00.64, just off her best of 1:00.38. One assumes she was a little disappointed she didn’t go under. But quietly, and nearly unnoticed, at the same meet Poppe also split a very quick 59.46 in the Medley Relay. In the league championships last week, Poppe started to dial in with a 1:00.51.
But great accomplishment never comes without challenges. Buried a little further down the psyche sheet, in the sixth seed with a relatively (but only relatively) pedestrian 1:04.4 sits Riley Scott (Jr. Petaluma). It could easily be forgotten that t in March of this year at NCSA Jrs. , Scott both won the 200 breast, and finished as the runner up in the 100 breast with a 1:00.84.
So now, two one-double-oh breaststrokers will be competing head-to-head in the biggest high school meet of their season. Can they push each other to go under? This should be a classic matchup of a sprinters front end speed (Poppe) vs a middle distancer’s back half charge (Scott). Go get em ladies!
Other Questions, Stories and Observations
Just as with the men, the women’s 200 free should be exciting. Sophomore Cali Raukar of Marin Catholic who goes in as the top seed. She will be chased by the veteran Junior from Acalanes, Brittany Usinger. Both women are seeded in 1:48 and 1:49 respectively, but three more women are seeded right behind them in 1:50’s. How many will go under? Who will prevail?
In the 200 free relay, Carondelet (1:35.08) and San Ramon Valley (1:35.45) are the top two seeds. Both are close to the NCS record of 1:34.82. Will they push each other to a new standard?
San Ramon Valley and Carondelet enter the meet with 9 top seeds of 11 events. But both teams have swimmers like Natalie Amberg (Sr., Carondelet, UCLA) seeded near the top in two events that will also be competing for titles. With that much talent concentrated into two teams, it will be difficult for other teams to move up.
The remaining top seed not from SRV, not from Carondelet, and not mentioned above, is Jr. Taylor Thorson of Clayton Valley Charter (School Mascot: The Ugly Eagles – A nickname that only the football team could love) in the 50 Free. But like just about every other race in this meet, this title will not come easily. Thorson will be chased by five other women seeded in under 24.
The North Coast Section is home to such swimming legends as Matt Biondi and Natalie Coughlin – Who still holds the oldest NCS swimming record on the books. This year’s championships will be held at the Concord Community Pool in Concord, California. Prelims start at 10:30 AM this Friday May 16, and Finals will be held on Saturday May 17th, also starting at 10:30 AM.
Psyche Sheets and Results may be found on SwimPhone: Here
Some Additional Background
The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) divides the state into 10 sections. Each section holds its own swimming championship. The North Coast Section (NCS) covers the San Francisco East Bay and North Bay geographic areas. The meet format within each CIF section varies, but inside the NCS approximately 120 high school swim teams, large and small, compete directly. The top 40 seeds in each event qualify (times must have been swum in a HS meet). 2014 is the last year in which the California High School swimming season will culminate at the Section level. Next year, California will hold a first ever high school state swimming championship in Clovis after the completion of the section championships.