2015 California Interscholastic Federation North Coast Section Swimming & Diving Championships
- Diving: Thursday, May 14, 2015
- Swimming: Trials – Friday, May 15, 2015; Finals – Saturday, May 16, 2015
- Location: Concord Community Pool
- Defending Champions: Girls – San Ramon Valley; Boys – Northgate (2014 results)
- Live Results: Available
- Championship Central
- Psych Sheet
For the first time, the California Section Championships will no longer mark the end of the high school swimming season. This year, there will be an even bigger end of season celebration– The California High School State Swimming Championships. But so far, by design, nobody is yet qualified to swim in those championships. Swimmers must first qualify for a second swim at NCS on Saturday before they can earn a trip to State. The top 3 finishers from the NCS championship finals on Saturday will automatically qualify for the CIF swimming championship. Sections can enter additional swimming competitors provided they have met or bettered the “at‐large” standard for their event during the finals (championship or consolation) of the section meet (see a listing of the “at-large” times here, see NCS wording for how to get to state here).
The format is such that only a rarified few swimmers could even contemplate the idea of looking past the section championships and pointing toward only the state championship, thus ensuring that this year’s NCS meet will match all the energy and excitement of years past.
The Team Races
On the women’s side, San Ramon Valley (SRV) will look to repeat as NCS champions by bringing the deepest team, men’s or women’s, to NCS. The Wolves will be represented by 16 individual meet qualifiers (14 swimmers and 2 divers). They are led by Junior Gianna Garcia who will contend for individual titles in both the 100 fly (seed 54.09) and the 100 back (seed 55.16) where she goes in as the first and second seed respectively.
Without a state championship history to go by, it’s hard to be familiar with all the women’s high school teams around the state. It’s likely that whichever team emerges as the first CA State Champion, it will have been built around three strong relays. This SRV team fits that bill. NCS will show us how much individual star power SRV can bring to State, which they will likely also need to call themselves CA State Champions. The potential is here.
Last year, in the overall team race for second, only four points separated the women of Campolindo led by Columbia bound Sr. Mary Ashby (top seed 50 free 23.49) and the women of Carondelet led by Jr. Madelyn Murphy (see below) and Samantha Coloma (top seed & defending 100 Bk champion). The team race for second could be very close again this year.
Last year, the men of Northgate earned their second ever NCS team championship. This year, behind a very strong senior quartet (Calvin Kirkpatrick – UCSB, Mason Tittle – UCSB, Eric Van Brocklin – UCSB, and Stanley Wu – Florida), Northgate will look to be the favorite to defend their team title.
At least three teams look to be in the chase. San Ramon Valley led by Juniors Hank Poppe and Jake Rollo, De La Salle led Forrest White (Jr.) and Dom Dalpiaz (Sr., Cal Poly), and Campolindo led by Cole Stevens (Jr.) and Jolen Griffen (So.) will also make a lot of noise, probably winding up in a close race for second.
In a section championship that has produced several national records of the past couple of years, a few races stand out as “must see” this year:
The Men’s 400 Yard Freestyle Relay
Last year, the men of Granada set the national public high school record in the 400 FR, with a 2:59.00. It was a treat to watch. But, at the time, it felt like it would be quite awhile before we would see another public school that had the potential to go under 3:00, much less have a chance to set another national public school record. Yet here it is only a year later, and should Northgate decide to go for it, this team will have a shot at breaking 3:00 and possibly set a new national public school record in the process.
If Northgate does load the 400 FR, the three Northgate swimmers set to remain teammates at UCSB next year (Calvin Kirkpatrick, Mason Tittle, and Eric VanBrocklin – pictured above) will be joined by junior Max Bottene to take their shot at history. A week and a half ago, Bottene won the DVAL League Championship 100 Free in 44.90 and he will enter the individual event as the top seed. Tittle (see below) has split under 45 on a relay, and both VanBrocklin (top seed 500 Fr, 2nd seed 200 Fr) and Kirkpatrick (2nd seed 100 BK, 5th seed 50 Fr) have been close. With the adrenaline of NCS, this foursome could go under. What’s neat about this story is these four came up through the swimming ranks together, starting in summer rec during the mid 2000’s. They’ve been both teammates and rivals ever since. Can four kids who grew up in same neighborhood set a new national public school record?
Assuming that Northgate does load the 400 free relay, from there, they could choose to load either the 200 MR or the 200 FR, and challenge the NCS record in either. Stanley Wu (3rd seed with a 55.74) is an outstanding breaststroker making the 200 MR record a possibility.
The Men’s 100 Yard Butterfly
The depth of the field and the top end talent make this a must watch race. 6 of the top 7 finishers return from last year. .01 of a second is all that separates the lifetime bests of last year’s top three. Grant Watson (Jr., College Prep) returns as the defending champion. He looked very strong and focused in the BAC Championships last weekend, posting an unshaved 48.88. Watson’s teammate, Northwestern bound Arjun Sharma (Sr., College Prep) was last year’s runner up. Sharma enters this race with the fastest lifetime best (48.59). Last year, UCSB bound Mason Tittle (Sr. Northgate), had a breakout meet, finishing third. He has not looked back, posting spectacular times ever since. Tittle enters the race as the top seed in 48.69.
All three swimmers will be looking to break 48, possibly challenging the NCS record of 47.88. But keep an eye on everybody else in this one too. This race is so loaded that there’s a very good chance that a swimmer or two will go a sub 50 and still not make the championship final. From there, with that kind of speed, anybody can finish in the top 3. Who is going to emerge from this really fast field, and will it take a new NCS record to win it?
The Women’s 50 Free
Three time defending NCS champion Iris Brand (Sr., Amador Valley, Wisconsin) will look to make it a four year sweep for her great high school swimming career. But championships never come easy especially when everyone is gunning to unseat the champion. Brand is currently listed as the 12th seed on the psyche sheet going in. This year, 7 of last year’s top 8 are returning. Athenian sophomore Emma Cottrill leads the field of last year’s returning finalists, while Mary Ashby (Sr. Campolindo, Columbia) comes in as the highest seed. In year’s past, Brand has always managed to find her way to the wall first. Can she do it one final time?
Some Swimmers to Watch
Every year there are a handful of swimmers that go into NCS with a chance to win two individual events. And every year there are swimmers who rise up and surprise us. The following is a partial list of swimmers to keep an eye on as these championships unfold. We look forward to the surprises.
Maxime Rooney (Jr., Granada, Verbal to Florida) – It’s always a bit of a cottage industry guessing in advance which events Rooney will enter. For good reason. With perhaps just one exception, Rooney is capable of winning and setting a new NCS record in just about any individual event. But each year, he is limited to just two. This year Rooney will go in as the defending champion in the 200 and 500 freestyles, both events in which he already holds the NCS record (1:35.69 and 4:20.60). However, in the 500 this year, Rooney will not go in as the top seed. Eric VanBrocklin (Sr., Northgate, UCSB) will have that honor (in the 200 they switch places with VanBrocklin going in as second seed behind Rooney). In both a dual meet and his league championship 500’s, VanBrocklin has been laying down a trail of 4:28 bread crumb swims leading up to this meet. Rooney could have a race on his hands in the finals.
Riley Scott (Sr., Petaluma, USC) –Scott earned a ton of respect and admiration from this writer for both her competitive spirit and her competitive grace during one of last year’s marquee races – The women’s 100 breast (see photo’s and article here). In that race, NCS fans enjoyed watching the second swimmer in NCS history break a minute. This year, it’s Scott’s turn to see if she can become the third swimmer to do so (The NCS record, Kasey Carlson’s 58.75, is the current national record). Scott will be chased by the other 7 finalists from last year, led by this year’s top seeds MC Schillinger (Sr. Miramonte, Rice) and Kate Didion (Sr. Las Lomas, Princeton), along with a host of rising young stars all looking to get into their first NCS final. Scott will also go into the 200 IM as the defending champion. Last year, Scott went under 2:00 for the first time, posting a 1:59.98. In the IM. Scott will be chased by a pair of San Ramon Valley Juniors: Last year’s runner up Christina Chong, and this year’s top seed going in Abigail Miller.
Carson Sand (Sr., Castro Valley, Cal) – Sand finished last year as the runner up in both the 200 IM and the 100 Breast, but in both of those races he finished behind a graduating senior. So this year, Sand will be entering as the highest returning finisher. But Sand will find himself facing some stiff competition as relatively late blooming Daniel Comforti (Sr., Heritage, ASU) enters the 200 IM with both the top seed and the fastest lifetime best (1:49.94 to Sand’s 1:50.02). The 200 IM also features a very deep field (it may take a sub 1:53 to make this final), with last year’s 3rd Place finisher Jake Rollo (Jr., SRV) also swimming very fast and looking strong coming in. In the 100 breast, Sand will go in as the top seed and the favorite, but just as last year when only .3 separated them, Sand will be chased very hard by the ever growing and ever faster Hank Poppe (Jr. SRV). Stanly Wu (Sr. Northgate, Florida) will also look to make some noise in this race.
Brittany Usinger (Sr., Acalanes, Harvard) & Maddie Murphy (Jr., Carondelet) – Both swimmers enter this meet on a tear. And both swimmers are entered in the same events – The 200 Free and the 100 Fly. In both events, the top three from last year return, and Murphy throws her hat into the ring to make it four in the 200. Usinger returns as the defending champion in the 100 fly (53.46 last year) where she will be chasing the NCS record held by the great Celina Li (53.13) and where she will be chased by Murphy and Gianna Garcia (Jr., SRV). Murphy enters the 200 free as the top seed, but Cali Raukar (Jr. Marin Catholic) returns to defend her title, followed by last year runner up Usinger, and bronze medalist Moriah Simonds (Jr. Granada). Last year’s women’s 200 free was one of the most exciting finals of the meet with lead changes and a close finish. With Murphy, it could be even more exciting this year.
Mason Tittle (Sr., Northgate, UCSB) – Tittle had to be the break out swimmer of the meet last year, and he’s continued to roll. This year he will go into both the 50 Free (20.8) and the 100 fly (48.69) as the top seed. He’ll also play a very big role on two Northgate relays that will challenge for records.
Please note that this writer welcomes comments about story lines and swimmers to watch for during the meet.
The North Coast Section is home to such swimming legends as Matt Biondi and Natalie Coughlin – Who still holds the oldest NCS 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 15, and Finals will be held on Saturday May 16th, also starting at 10:30 AM.