The Pacific Coast League is one of the most competitive high school leagues in California’s Southern Section, and it swimmers had the crowd on their feet on Friday night at the championship final at Woollett Aquatics Center. After years of dominance from Irvine’s University High and Newport Beach’s Corona del Mar, it was Irvine’s Northwood High at the top of the 2016 boys’ leaderboard with a sweep of the Varsity, JV, and Open league titles.
The writing may have been on the wall from the opening event for the Northwood boys; their runner-up performance in the 200 medley relay broke a 2012 school record by .14, beginning a run that earned them three individual event titles and wins in both free relays, as well as a slew of school records.
Sophomore Hunter Hitchens participated in three of those record-breaking performances, beginning with the first individual event, the boys 200 free. Hitchens got out to an early lead over University junior George Horvath, building up a half body-length margin by the 100 wall. Although Horvath, who notched a PB by 1.5 seconds, outsplit Hitchens by .10 over the final 100, it wasn’t enough to make up the difference. Hitchens went 1:40.47 for first; Horvath finished with 1:40.97 for second. It was Hitchens’ third-best performance ever, and it took down the 10-year-old Northwood school record by .40. Hitchens followed up with a win in the 100 free over teammate Cameron Hseih, 46.42 to 46.74, and was also on both Northwood’s first-place free relays.
The Northwood 200 free relay won with 1:25.82, crushing their 2015 school record by 1.7 seconds. Their 3:05.72 finish in the 400 free relay broke both the school record (by 1.8 seconds) and the league record; the latter had been set by CdM with 3:06.75 in 2013.
Gabe Munoz of Northwood racked up big points winning the 200 IM in 1:50.85 and placing second in the 100 fly with 49.92. His teammate Henry Wu was third in the IM (1:57.64), coming in behinEthan Archerd of CdM (1:54.33). Northwood’s Hwa Min Sim broke 22 seconds in the 50 free for the first time with his 21.87 to tie for second place. Teammate Mack Nesbit was runner-up in the 500 free with 4:34.71, taking an 8/10 chunk out of the school record.
University opened the meet with a big win in the 200 medley relay, clocking a 1:33.76 ahead of Northwood (1:35.52) and Corona del Mar (1:37.18). Horvath followed up his lifetime-best 200 free with a 4:27.95 win in the 500 free that not only took 1.1 seconds off his previous best, but also broke the Pacific Coast League record and came within .64 of the school mark. Junior Andrew Knoell won the 100 fly in 49.87 and led a 1-2-3 Uni sweep of the 100 back with 50.48. Sean Messer (51.87) and Jarod Yoshihara (52.59) were second and third in the back, while teammate Aaron Lee (51.17) picked up the bronze medal in the fly. University closed out the meet with a second-place finish in the 400 free relay with a time of 3:09.21.
Corona del Mar scored consistently all afternoon to keep the contest close. They finished second to Northwood in the 200 free relay, and had runners-up in the 50 free (Jon Polos, 21.87) and 100 breast (Ryan Schildwachter, 58.07). Micah Kamai of Irvine won the 100 breast with 57.98. Woodbridge finished third in both freestyle relays.
- Northwood 444.5
- Corona del Mar 414.5
- University 411
- Irvine 332
- Woodbridge 227
- Beckman 185