Anne Lepesant is a California swimming parent and has contributed this report.
The biggest, thickest, and deepest high school championship stretch of the year is underway in California with this week’s Mission League Championships at Los Angeles Valley College. This league is home to the 5-time state champions from Loyola High School; they were 3rd at last year’s CIF Southern Sectional Division I Championship, but were champions the year before, and led by senior Peter Kropp (who is Duke bound and a part of the USA Swimming developmental squad), they should contend for the title again this year.
The Loyola boys kicked off the meet with a new Mission League Record in the 200 Medley Relay with a 1:34.64, breaking the 2011 time swum by this same Loyola team at the CIF SS Championship meet. The foursome of Samuel Jo, Kropp, Oliver Maarse, and Kyle Otazu got the record, including a 26.02 split from Kropp.
He would also go on to break the Meet Record in the individual 100 breaststroke already going a 56.89, despite still being two weeks short of even the high school championship meet.
The team would go on to break Meet (though not overall League) records in the 200 free relay with a 1:27.13 (.01 off of the old record) and in the 400 free relay with a 3:11.53.
In those latter two relays, they’ll have a long way to go to get the overall records set by their counterparts in 2011 who had huge drops between the League finals and the Sectional Championships (equivalent of “state meet”).
Among other notable performances on the men’s side includes Harvard-Westlake’s Matt Chen, who won the 200 IM (1:54.33) and the 500 free (4:39.73). In the 100 free, Loyola’s Kyle Otazu swam a 46.94. He’s just a junior, but that breaks the Meet Record of fellow Cub Fred Abramyan set at the 2011 meet in 47.65.
Harvard-Westlake picked up another victory in the 100 backstroke. Impressive junior Colin Lynch won the title in 52.62. Harvard-Westlake has an impressive swimming history of its own, counting among its alumni the great Dara Torres.
Note that Lynch is mislabeled in results as a freshman; he’s in fact a junior according to the Harvard-Westlake website.
The most inspirational swim of the meet was from Alemany senior Jack Oberto. He won the men’s 100 fly for the second-straight year with a 50.94. That’s a pretty incredible feat considering that he’s only been back in the water for a month after being in a horrific car accident the day before the team’s first practice this season. He had severe injuries to his hip and spine, and had to undergo intense physical therapy just to get back in the pool.
Now, he’s gone a time seven-tenths of a second faster than he was last year.
In the women’s meet, Sacred Heart Prep was almost as dominant as the Loyola men were, taking 6 varsity event titles out of 13 possible.
That includes sweeping the relays, the most impressive of which perhaps was their 200 free relay that touched in 1:36.95. That breaks an 8-year old overall League record set by Harvard-Westlake in 2005.
Among the three individual victories was a repeat title for Kirsten Vose in the 100 breaststroke with a 1:02.82. For the sophomore, that’s a second win in as many attempts at this meet, and knocks about seven-tenths off of her previous best time. It also broke the Meet Record belonging to USC Trojan and USA Swimming National Team member Andrea Kropp.
That time should put her in a great battle with University High School’s Maggie Burton for the Division I title in a few weeks.
Vose also won the women’s 200 IM in 2:03.94. She only swam one individual race and two relays at last year’s CIF meet, but with a time like that already, she becomes a top-5 contender in this event as well.
The other victory for Sacred Heart, who like Loyola are nicknamed the Cubs, was junior Katie Atlmayer in the 100 fly with a 56.38.
This meet, that was loaded with young talent, had a huge debut from Alemany freshman Katherine Wagner. She broke two Meet Records in her initial Mission League event. The first came in the 200 free, where she was a 1:51.34 to clear a 2010 record set by current USC Trojans Meghan Hawthorne. She then came back just two events later with a 23.49 in the 50 free to also break Hawthorne’s Meet Record.
Along with Vose’s 200 IM, three of Hawthorne’s Records were broken on the day.
What’s so exciting about Wagner for college coaches is not just how good she is at such a young age; rather it’s the fact that she was able to swim three of this meet’s four events, range so well from the 50 to the 200 free, and was able to finish the third so well. She also was a 53.41 leading off Alemany’s 4th-place 400 free relay, though that wouldn’t have been good enough to beat Harvard-Westlake’s Kassie Shannon for the individual title (52.52).
And finally, Louisville’s Jade Skertich took her second-straight League title in the 100 backstroke with a 1:01.23.
Full results are available on the Meet Mobile app on your smartphone.