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Valencia swim ends Hart's run

Valencia girls swim ends Hart's 41-meet league win unbeaten streak

Posted: April 16, 2014 10:00 p.m.
Updated: April 16, 2014 10:00 p.m.

Hart girls swim has put decades-long locks on the Foothill League and has dominated its rivalry with Valencia.

But for the first time in eight years and second time ever, the Vikings tore through the Indians’ armor.

The Vikings girls pulled off a win over the Indians 89-81 on Wednesday afternoon at the Santa Clarita Aquatic Center, breaking the Indians’ league dual-meet undefeated run of 41 meets.

The boys race featured more drama down the stretch, with Valencia’s A relay out-touching a revised Hart B relay team to finish second and force an 85-85 tie.

That marked the first time in program history the Valencia boys had not lost to Hart.

“This is the biggest win in the program’s history,” said first-year Valencia head coach Chris Stroh. “Something like this is going to give us a lot of momentum.”

Hart actually came away victors in seven of the 11 girls varsity events, but the depth of the Vikings enabled them to pick up enough points to outlast the Indians.

Nikol Popov doubled for the Vikings, winning the 100 breaststroke and 100 butterfly, and was a member of the winning 200-yard medley team, along with Sophie Fiscella, Catie Anderson and Tiffany Farfan.

For the Indians, Alyssa Schultz doubled in the 200 free and 500 free and Tamara Santoyo doubled in the 50 free and 100 free.

The girls got off to a quick start in the meet, going one-two in event No. 1, the 200-yard medley relay, to put Hart in an early hole.

“We got together and thought we might have it if Valencia used their big guns in the first two relays,” said Hart head coach Steve Neale. “But it surprised us when they put us back with one-two in the medley relay.”

The boys race came down to the final leg of the final event.

Knowing the meet would be tight, the Indians revised their 400-free relay lineups, putting Jonathan Gragas and Matt Johnson on the B relay.

Johnson, swimming the anchor leg, waited as long as he could to step forward while teammate Tyler Collins was in the water, with Hart needing to secure a one-two finish to keep its streak alive.

“When Matt stepped up it was shocking,” Stroh said. “I was trying to figure out who their fourth swimmer was.”

But the Vikings team of Johnny Ellery, Brian Buxton, Logan Propst and Tyler Tran did enough, with Tran out-touching Johnson for a finish of 3 minutes, 16.57 seconds to Hart’s 3:16.69.

The Indians A relay team of Austin Barreiro, Kevin Moore, Ryan Brimer and Cole Cogswell won the race in 3:14.30.

“We had a brain trust the last couple days and Matt and Austin thought we could do that in the last relay,” said Hart head coach Steve Neale. “We thought we might be able to do it and pull it out.”

Johnson did pick up two individual wins on the day, doubling in the 200 and 500 frees, while Cogswell doubled in the 100 backstroke and 50 free.

“It means a lot to the kids,” Neale said of how his teams took the results. “It means the world to them, high school swimming is extremely important. That’s a culture we want to keep alive. It means everything. But as I told the kids, it’s no regrets. A coach can never be angry when a swimmer does the best they ever have.”

For the Vikings, Kevin Dai won the 100 breaststroke and 200 individual medley.

Now the teams will try and regroup, with Hart very much still alive in the Foothill League girls title race by virtue of the Foothill League final meet acting as a tiebreaker should the teams end up tied.

“I’d say this is, for Valencia, this is the biggest meet they’ve ever had,” Stroh said. “Our depth is going to play a factor in league. We’re trying to get all of our swimmers in.”

Saugus vs. West Ranch

The Centurions and Wildcats split their varsity meet on Wednesday afternoon at Santa Clarita Aquatic Center.

The Wildcats beat a depleted Saugus girls team 100-70, while the Saugus boys won 107-63.

For West Ranch, Courtney Chrzas highlighted the day, winning both the 200 individual medley (2:13.05) and the 100 breaststroke.

Zachary Zenteno won the 200 free and 100 back for Saugus, while Tanner Olson won the 200 individual medley and 100 breast and Alex Chan won the 50 and 100 free.


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