The 2016 California High School swimming & diving season got underway this month with an early marquee matchup between two of the best teams in the CIF – Southern Section.
The boys of Loyola High School (Los Angeles), who placed 2nd at last year’s CIF – Southern Section Division I Championship meet, played host to Dana Hills, who were 2nd at last year’s meet, in an early state championship preview.
Both teams have nationally-relevant underclassmen stars on their teams, and both swimmers picked up victories on the day.
For Loyola, junior Sean Lee swept the 200 IM (1:50.77) and 100 fly (49.66), getting a better challenge in the latter race where four swimmers in all were 52.1 or better.
Dana Hills’ star is sophomore Owen Kao, who put up a fast early-season 1:40.32 in the boys’ 200 free for a win. That’s already almost as fast as he swam to place 8th (1:40.00) at last year’s Southern Section Championships.
In Kao’s second event, the 100 free, he fell to Loyola’s Joon Sung by a margin of 46.22-45.47. Neither swimmer swam that race at last year’s Southern Section Championships (Soon swam the 50 free and 100 fly, Kao swam the 200 and 500 free), but Sung’s time in this meet already is good enough that it would’ve placed 3rd at that meet.
Sung also swam 20.94 to win the 50 free individually.
His fellow senior Willie Mamer won the 100 breaststroke in 58.56 – two-tenths better than he was in an 18th-place finish at last year’s Section Championship meet.
Dana Hills was lifted by divers Christopher Labella and Nathan Pellini, who both scored over 200 points to take the top two spots, but Loyola was too deep and won the varsity scoring by a dominant 121-63.
At last year’s state championship meet, Dana Hills finished 1 point ahead of Loyola in the team standings, though Loyola DQ’ed their 200 medley relay early in the meet .Neither team lost much to graduation, and both should make up ground on the defending champions University High at this year’s meet.