Scorching Temps and a Nail-Biter Girls’ Team Battle at CIF SS Division II Championships

Big thanks go out to Anne Lepesant for her continued coverage of the California Southern Section Championship meets this weekend.

Southern California’s division 2 high school championships were contested in 95° heat this morning at Riverside Aquatic Center. And, pardon the pun but the kids were on fire.


Four 200 yard medley relay teams finished prelims in 1:49, so you knew it would be a close final. The backstroke leg was won in the outside lane by Upland’s sophomore Sonia Wang in 25.66, a full second faster than the closest competitor. After the butterfly leg the middle lanes were all bunched together… until junior Kat Wickham split a 23-mid on the free leg to bring the victory home for Palm Springs in 1:47.88 (junior Faith Travis 27.19, junior Alexa Wasserman 31.72, senior Sophie MacEwan 25.24, Wickham 23.73). Chaparral was second; Crescenta Valley was third.

That must have been a nice warm-up for Palm Springs’ Kat Wickham, as she turned around to win the 200 free five minutes later. The junior swam 1:50.36 to finish in front of Troy senior Gwen Walter (1:50.92) and Ayala junior Cori Casper (1:51.03).

Sonia Wang, winner of the girls' 200 IM. (Photo Courtesy: John Wang)

Sonia Wang, winner of the girls’ 200 IM. (Photo Courtesy: John Wang)

The 200 IM belonged to Sonia Wang from start to finish. She won by a full body length in 1:59.16, ahead of Ayala senior Ashley Tse (2:01.58) and North Torrance sophomore Jasmine Margetts (2:04.57).

The 50 yard free was fast, with four of the top 9 going under 24. Poly Long Beach senior Savannah Steffen ended her high school career on a high note, winning the event in 23.54. Two freshmen followed: Kenisha Liu (Ayala) went 23.84; Claire Fisch (Martin Luther King) went 23.87.

The 100 fly record (53.03 from USC’s Yumi So in 2009) almost fell today. Sonia Wang, out in 25.15, touched the wall in 53.35 to win her second event of the day. Glendora freshman Catherine Sanchez was second in 56.26 and Xavier Prep sophomore Shelby Andrade was third in 56.59.

Crescenta Valley freshman Heather Mac Dougal took the 100 free in 50.92, followed by Ayala freshman Kenisha Liu (51.10) and Chaparral senior Kate Santilena (51.47).

Note: Upland sophomore Sonia Wang split a 49.81 to lead off the 400 free relay, which was the fastest 100 free swum in the meet and only 0.04 off the D2 record set by the legendary Jill Sterkel in 1979.)

The girls 500 was a tight race throughout, but Glendora senior Nicole Gautreau had the strongest final 100 and took home the gold in 4:54.70. Troy senior Gwen Walter (4:55.64) finished second and Walnut sophomore Theresa Lo (4:56.39) was third.

The Ayala girls broke the CIFSS D2 record in the 200 free relay of 1:37.80 set by Westlake in 2008. Freshman Megan Delgado (25.53), junior Cori Casper (24.57), freshman Kenisha Liu (23.60) and senior Ashley Tse (23.54) combined for a 1:37.24. They were followed by Troy (1:38.40) and Santiago (1:38.34).

In the girls 100 back, Chaparral senior Kate Santilena swam a strong race, getting out in front early and hanging on for a 55.78 first place finish. A strong second 50 from Palm Springs junior Faith Travis put her just in front of North Torrance sophomore Jasmine Margetts at the finish, 56.48 to 56.62.

Defending 100 breast champ Ashley Tse of Ayala defended her title, winning in 1:03.77. Troy senior Katja Claesson (1:05.83) was runner-up and King junior Alex Wolf (1:05.94) was third.

The champion swimmers of the Ayala 400 free relay (in swim order)

The champion swimmers of the Ayala 400 free relay (in swim order)

In a fitting close to the D2 final session the Ayala girls took down a 33-year-old record in the 400 free relay. Shannon Steele (55.42), Cori Casper (52.45), Kenisha Liu (50.80) and Ashley Tse (51.34) cracked through the 3:30.27 mark set by Riverside Poly in 1980, winning in 3:30.01. Second place went to Martin Luther King (3:30.84); third was Crescenta Valley (3:31.28).

Top 5 girls’ teams in CIF-SS Division 2:

1 Troy 207
2 Ayala 201
3 King, Martin Luther 200
4 Palm Springs 187
5 Crescenta Valley 159


Last year’s CIF-SS D2 winners, Crescenta Valley, started the meet off this year with a new record in the 200 yard medley relay. They topped their own mark, set in 2012, by 0.40 seconds with 1:33.39 (senior Harrison Thai 23.56, senior Young Tae Seo 25.69, sophomore Edward Yi 22.97, senior Jacob Ksendzov 21.17). Lakewood was second (1.34.47) and Los Osos was third (1:37.60).

From R-L, Harrison Thai 23.56, senior Young Tae Seo 25.69, sophomore Edward Yi 22.97, senior Jacob Ksendzov 21.17 from the Crescenta Valley 200 medley relay. (Courtesy: Anne Lepesant)

From R-L, Harrison Thai 23.56, senior Young Tae Seo 25.69, sophomore Edward Yi 22.97, senior Jacob Ksendzov 21.17 from the Crescenta Valley 200 medley relay. (Courtesy: Anne Lepesant)

The Kyle Coan Show began with the 200 free. The defending champ and Los Osos junior set a new meet record (previously held by Stanford’s Andrew Saeta, 1:36.99 from 2009) with his 1:35.69. (Last year Coan won the event in 1:38.13.) Kennedy junior Ryan Kao was also under Saeta’s record, finishing second in 1:36.76. Murrieta Valley senior Daniel Ghomi was third in 1:38.71.

Three boys’ events; three records. Young Tae Seo (senior, Crescenta Valley) was on a mission to beat his record from 2012 (1:48.38). In a heat loaded with talent, including Arroyo Grande’s Zach Stevens, Lakewood’s Daniel McArthur and Seo’s teammate Harrison Thai, it was going to take a big swim to win. Seo didn’t disappoint; he finished in front by nearly two seconds, lowering his own record to 1:47.80. Second place went to Lakewood sophomore McArthur (1:49.53); third was senior Harrison Thai (1:49.94).

Los Osos junior Michael Forbes was the undisputed sprint king today. His winning 50 free time of 20.81 was the only one under 21; fast, but not quite enough to threaten Anthony Ervin’s 20.21 from 1999. Finishing second was Martin Luther King senior Seva Eagle (21.15). Tied for third in 21.62, Zachary Dorrego (senior, Santiago/Corona) and Devon Tomooka (senior, Righetti).

Kyle Coan of Los Osos was back in winning form for the 100 fly. Seeded second after prelims, he had a blazing second 50 to assure victory in 48.66 ahead of Daniel Ghomi (senior from Murrieta Valley, 49.52) and Dylan Tarazona (Claremont senior, 50.16).

Michael Forbes of Los Osos repeated in the 100 free, going 45.86 for the win. King senior Seva Eagle picked up his second silver with 46.37, while Andrew Denton, a senior from Alta Loma, finished third in 47.81.

Kennedy junior Ryan Kao swam a ridiculous 500; his 4:20.28 is one of the top 10 swims in the country for 17-18 year olds and would have place him second at junior nationals last December. Kao was followed by junior Brendan Casey of Santa Monica (4:27.37); and senior Nolan Newland of San Luis Obispo (4:33.31).


The Los Osos boys dominated the 200 free relay from start to finish. Kyle Coan split a blazing 19.58 on the anchor to bring them home in a meet-record time of 1:24.65. The first three legs were Jared Strong (22.24), Michael Forbes (20.69), and Gabriel Forbes (22.14). It’s worth noting that 3/4 of this relay will be back next year; only Gabriel Forbes is a senior, the rest are juniors.

Sophomore Daniel McArthur of Lakewood dominated the boys 100 back, winning in 49.21, just off the 2010 meet record of 48.80 set by Oaks Christian’s Chase Bloch (now at USC). Crescenta Valley senior Harrison Thai touched second in 50.24; Los Osos Nick Bell was third with 51.01.

One of the most anticipated races of the night pitted Crescenta Valley senior Young Tae Seo against Arroyo Grande junior Zachary Stevens in the 100 breast. Stevens came into the meet seeded first; Seo was the defending champ and record-holder (with a 2011 time of 55.81). Seo lowered his own record to 55.65 in prelims, but in the very next heat Stevens set the new mark at 55.15. Against that backdrop the final heat stepped to the blocks. Seo and Stevens turned together at the 50 and seemed to touch at the same time at the finish. But it was Zachary Stevens who came out on top, with a new D2 record of 55.13. Seo finished in 55.25, and Mark Keppel junior Justin Chiu took home the bronze in 55.61.

The final event of the meet featured a spectacular 400 free relay by the boys from Los Osos. They shattered the D2 meet record (3:05.50 set by Crescenta Valley in 2012) with a blazing 3:04.14. Jared Strong leading off in 48.32, was followed by Nick Bell (47.20), Michael Forbes (45.38) and the indomitable Kyle Coan, who split a stunning 43.24 to end the meet. Wow. Crescenta Valley (with a 46.41 leadoff split from Young Tae Seo) took home a silver in 3:08.94 and Santiago rounded off the podium with 3:10.93.

Los Osos takes the plunge after winning the Division II Boys' Championship. (Anne Lepesant.)

Los Osos takes the plunge after winning the Division II Boys’ Championship. (Anne Lepesant.)

Top 5 boys’ teams in CIF-SS Division 2:

1 Los Osos 285
2 Crescenta Valley 234
3 Arroyo Grande 142
4 Santiago/Corona 140.50
5 Murrieta Valley 134

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Swimming Mom

It’s great to see the article covers the D 2 meet so detail! My college freshman daughter on east cost can have more information from it, and it saves my minutes.


Thanks swimswam….Great coverage! lots of great swims in spite of the heat

Great job for the Los Osos boys and girls this year!

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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