Northgate and San Ramon Win California NCS Titles; Poppe Breaks a Minute in 100 Breaststroke

by Dean Ottati 8

May 17th, 2014 High School, News

The Exclamation Points:

The men of Granada closed out a fast North Coast Section Championship final by posting a new national public high school record in the 400 free relay.  Led by three seniors, Nick Silverthorn (44.96), Bryce McLaggan (45.43), Trent Trump (44.48), and anchored by super sophomore Maxime Rooney (44.13), the team posted a 2:59.00, breaking the old public high school record of 2:59.36 set earlier this year by Chesterson HS, IN.  After the meet, when asked if they had been thinking about this record, Rooney first spoke about his teammates “Nick and I swim for Pleasanton and Trent and Bryce swim for Livermore, and it’s really nice to come together and swim for Granada.  We started talking about this record last year.”

The boys from Granada High School didn't get the team title, but they managed to walk away with a National High School Record instead. (Photo Courtesy: Robert Ashby)

The boys from Granada High School didn’t get the team title, but they managed to walk away with a National High School Record instead. (Photo Courtesy: Robert Ashby)

In the women’s 100 breast, Heidi Poppe broke a minute for the first time, finishing in a 59.85, ahead of Riley Scott who also finished in a very fast personal best 1:00.52.  Afterward, we joked about the number of times Poppe had gone a minute point, and I asked her what was different this time.  “I wanted to finish my high school career in under a minute.  I knew what swimming a one double oh felt like, so I knew this time it had to be a little different.  I really worked my pull downs, and I knew Riley was right there.  I really pushed that last lap.  It hurt,” she said with a huge smile.  Poppe was out in a quick 28.17, and continued to pull away, bringing it home in 31.68.  From the start, this swim had the feel of destiny about it.

In the prelims, the women of Carondelet set the new NCS record in the 200 Free Relay.  The women of San Ramon Valley also broke the old NCS record, but finished just behind Carondelet.  In the finals, swimming stroke for stroke right next to each other, both teams would break the NCS 200 FR record again.  This time, however it was San Ramon Valley (Heidi Poppe – 23.39, Marina Smith – 23.85, Alexa Fusari – 23.39, and Cailey Steffens – 22.88) who emerged victorious in a 1:33.51.  Just behind was Carondelet finishing in 1:33.62.

The Women’s Meet

The women of San Ramon Valley began their inevitable march to the title by winning the Medley Relay in 1:42.69 (Gianna Garcia-26.03, Heidi Poppe-27.44, Abigail Miller-25.83, Cailey Steffens-23.39), well ahead of Miramonte (1:46.47), and Campolindo (1:46.65).

While it was clear from the start that SRV was going to win the women’s team title, it was never clear who was going to win the women’s 200 freestyle.  At the 100, Jenna Bauer (Sr., Montgomery), Brittany Usinger (Jr., Acalanes), and top qualifier Moriah Simonds (So., Granada), turned at essentially the same time.  But in the end it was Cali Raukar (So., Marin Catholic) with the back half charge to finish with a narrow win in 1:48.27.  She was followed by Usinger in a 1:48.39, and Simonds in a 1:48.47.

Riley Scott had a great day.  She not only swam one of the fastest second place finishes anyone has ever seen in a HS women’s 100 breast, she opened her day by breaking 2:00 for the first time in the 200 IM, finishing in a 1:59.98.

Iris Brand (Jr. Amador Valley) also had a great day.  She won the 50 free in 23.28, ahead of Heidi Poppe (Sr., SRV) – 23.48, Emma Cottril (Fr., Athenian) and an entire final heat that all went under 24.  Later in the day, Brand finished second in the 100 free (50.29).

Maddie Murphy is tough.  She finished second in the women’s 100 fly, only to turn around 10 minutes later to win the 100 free in 50.19, just ahead of Brand, and Mary Ashby (Jr., Campolindo, 50.96)

Brittany Usinger can never be overlooked.  It’s a NCS tradition for all individual championship finalists to have an opportunity to fill out a personal information card.  The swimmers can fill in  a statement that they would like to have read to the audience.  It might contain a humorous line like “cooks minute rice in 58 seconds,” or something for the scouts in the crowd like “wants to swim for a D1 school.”  During the very first final of the day, the women’s 200 freestyle, the normally superlative NCS announcer got a little lost during the reading of the cards, and he skipped over announcing Brittany Usinger’s (Jr., Acalanes) name.  It was the last time anyone would look past Usinger.  After her exciting second place finish in the 200 free, Usinger pulled away in the 100 fly, winning in a quick 53.46.  The iron woman of swimming, Maddie Murphy, less than 10 minutes after winning the 100 free, finished in second in 54.06.  Gianna Garcia (SRV)  finished third in 54.33.

Moriah Simonds (Jr., Granada) went into the 500 free finals as the top seed, and she emerged from the finals as NCS champion, posting a 4:47.21.  Behind her was Jenna Bauer of Montgomery finishing in a 4:50.23.

Samantha Coloma (So., Carondelet) rode a textbook stroke to victory in the 100 back, finishing in 53.85.  She was followed by 200 free champion Cali Rauker (55.22) and Gianna Garcia (55.44).

While on the women’s side it was never in doubt that San Ramon Valley would win, it was also never clear which team would finish second.  Going into the 400 Free relay, Amador Valley, Campolindo, and Carondolet were all in the hunt.

Carondelet did everything they could do by winning the race in 3:25.37 (Maddie Murphy – 50.02, Kelsey Witkay – 52.56, Samantha Coloma 52.49, and Natalie Amberg 50.30), but they were going to need some teams to beat Campolindo to hang on to second in the overall team race.  SRV did their part to help by doing what they do best, swimming fast, and finishing second in 3:28.25.  But right behind was Campolindo in a 3:28.59 just ahead of Amador Valley in 3:28.68.  It was just enough for Campo to edge out Carondelet overall:

Team Score
San Ramon Valley 342
Campolindo 197
Carondelet 193
Amador Valley 189
Mission San Jose 123

The Men’s Meet

Northgate and Granada kicked off the men’s team battle right away in the 200 Medley Relay.  Granada drew first blood winning in a very quick 1:30.67 (Trent Trump – 22.97, Nick Silverthorn 25.29, Maxime Rooney – 21.89, Bryce McLaggan 20.52), just missing the NCS record by .15.  But Northgate did not make it easy, finishing in 1:31.47.

Granada further added to the lead with a 1 – 2 finish in the 200 free.  Rooney held off a late charge by Silverthorn, finishing in 1:36.21 and 1:36.8 respectively.  USC bound Jon Knox of Analy finished third in 1:37.07.

Kevin McLaughlin (Sr., Amador Valley, UOP) led the 200 IM field with a balanced and beautiful 1:49.39, but it didn’t come easily.  Carson Sand (Jr., Castro Valley) enjoyed the first of his two breakout swims today, splitting a very fast 30.45 on the breaststroke leg to close the gap, finishing second in 1:50.11. Jake Rollo (So., SRV) finished third in 1:53.18.

Top Qualifier RJ Williams (Jr., Terra Linda) emerged the winner from the wall of water known as the men’s 50 free, finishing in a 20.78.  He was closely followed by Utah bound Sean Bloore of Monte Vista (20.84), and Notre Dame bound Gabe Ostler of Miramonte (20.93).

Small school College Prep is the big winner in the 100 fly, finishing 1-2.  Grant Watson (48.98) finished a fingernail ahead of his teammate Arjun Sharma (49.00).  Mason Tittle (Jr., Northgate) enjoyed a breakout meet, finishing third in 49.52.

Duke bound Nick Bigot of Terra Linda took the 100 Free in 44.74.  Just as they did in the 50, Sean Bloore (Sr., Monte Vista, Utah) and Gabe Ostler (Sr., Miramonte, Notre Dame), finished 2nd and 3rd in 45.05 and 45.18 respectively.

Just as he did in the prelims, Maxime Rooney started to pull away from the 500 free field, leaving the next four guys about tied in the race for second through about 300 yards.  Then the race dynamics changed.  Talbot Jacobs, the Brown bound senior from small school College Prep went to his legs, closing the gap on Rooney, and pulling away from everybody else.  Rooney prevailed, finishing in 4:26.36, well off his NCS record from the day before, followed by Jacobs’ very gutsy second (4:28.84).  Eric VanBrocklin (Jr., Northgate) who just two summers ago was swimming summer rec and barely making the consolation finals of the 50 freestyle in the County Meet, finished 3rd in 4:32.20.

As speculated in the write-up about the prelims, a slower first leg in the 200 Free Relay would prove to be tougher for top seed Castro Valley to overcome in the choppy waters of the finals.  Instead Northgate prevailed finishing in 1:24.60 (Calvin Kirkpatrick – 21.14, Stanley Wu – 21.77, Eric VanBrocklin – 21.11, Mason Tittle 20.58) just ahead of Heritage in 1:24.71.  Castro Valley finished third.

Jon Knox added a 100 back title to his 3rd place finish in the 200 free with a winning time of 48.82.  He finished just ahead of Heritage HS teammates Brandon James (49.10) and Walker Thanning (49.26).  In a nice sidebar story, Columbia bound Michal Zyla (Northgate) has been flirting with the 50 second barrier for perhaps a year.  On a very cold day (27 degrees) last December he finished just over in a 50.1.  Then in the prelims yesterday, he had it well in hand until he hit the lane line, hard, and came to nearly a dead stop, finishing yet again in 50.1.  But today, Zyla finishes his high school career and heads off to the Big Apple with a 4th place finish and a 49.6 under his belt.

Nick Silverthorn finishes out his storied high school career with one last individual crown, winning the 100 breast in 54.31.  But it wasn’t easy.  Carson Sand finished just behind him in 54.54. And both of them were chased by Sophomore Hank Poppe of SRV who finished in 54.87.  Hank is already known as Heidi’s younger brother and the two are very close, but what may not quite so well known is Hank is a year ahead in school.  He could be swimming this meet as freshman, with three more years to go instead of two.

In the end, the depth of Northgate was too much for the stars of Granada.  The final men’s team standings were:

Team Score
Northgate 264
Granada 246
Camplindo 187
Heritage 145
San Ramon Valley 143.5


And of course, as expected, the final NCS small school shout-out of 2014 goes to the men of College Prep.  This year they produced an NCS champion, a pair of runner ups, as well as multiple consolation final swims.  But what will be forgotten in the excitement of a new national record in the 400 free relay, is College Prep’s great second place finish in 3:06.40.  Not bad for a school with only about 350 students.

Some Final Thoughts

Operator error with the recorder after the meet.  So my interview with Maxime Rooney is undocumented, and I can only speak from memory.  I found him to be a very gracious and generous young man.  I told Maxime the story about how I was speaking with one of the coaches earlier in the morning about what a special talent he is.  The conversation was about how the great senior class last year had left us with a lot of NCS records by a number of people, but that it was quite possible by the end of Rooney’s high school career a great number of those records could belong to him.  I then asked if he was looking to maybe swim something else next year.  He indicated that it was early, but that he might want to swim some of the 100’s.

We also spoke about the CA state championships next year.  He said he really likes competing against the great competition from Southern California and thinks it will be great for California HS swimming.

The Details

NCS Results may be found on SwimPhone: Here


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bobo gigi
9 years ago


9 years ago

With Northgate swimming in all event finals, I just don’t see how Granada would have gained 18 points by having fewer swimmers in the 200 free. Assuming they traded in 2nd and 6th for two 1st places in other events they gain only 10 points, and the switch would have little or no effect Northgate’s score. The real question was could Northgate swim well enough to overcome Granada’s 41 diving points.

9 years ago

Congrats to Northgate for winning with only 6 swimmers!

NorCal Swim Dad
Reply to  G
9 years ago

Granada might have won with only four, if three of them hadn’t been swimming the 200 free. The coach should have spread them out a bit more

Hugo Miller
Reply to  NorCal Swim Dad
9 years ago

Yes, I noticed that as well!!! Granada fab-four!

Hugo Miller
9 years ago

How about we continue this dual? Riley go to Cal please!!!

bobo gigi
9 years ago

Mr Rooney was much slower in finals.

And cool to see Miss Poppe break the minute barrier in her final high school meet.
She’s very athletic and has the perfect profile of the sprint breaststroker short course specialist.
She would be very useful at Cal which desperately needs a fast breaststroker.
But sorry Cal, she goes to Stanford. 🙂

About Dean Ottati

At various time in his life, Dean has been a summer rec swimmer, an AAU swimmer (yes, he is that old), a swim coach, a swim team director (social suicide through volunteerism), a meet director, a starter, an official, and just about everything else a swimmer/parent can be.  He currently …

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