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Saugus' Abbey Weitzeil highlights big day at CIF swim finals

Weitzeil sets two national records

Posted: May 17, 2014 9:59 p.m.
Updated: May 17, 2014 9:59 p.m.

It’s hard to imagine there being much left to prove at the high school level for Saugus junior swimmer Abbey Weitzeil.

But Weitzeil went out on Saturday night at the CIF-Southern Section Division I finals meet and found the one thing she had been missing — a national record.

Weitzeil won two CIF-SS titles for the third straight season, winning both the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events in the process of breaking two national records at Riverside Community College.

Weitzeil was the headliner for the Foothill League, but she was far from the only one making a statement, as league swimmers took home six CIF-SS titles combined, with Valencia freshman Nikol Popov joining Weitzeil as a double winner and the Hart 400-free relay team capping the meet with a championship.

Hart’s Cole Cogswell also won an individual crown Saturday.

Weitzeil’s winning time of 47.91 seconds in the 100 free was faster than the previous nationwide best mark of 48.15 set by North Dakota’s Dagny Knutson in 2009 and her 50 free winning time of 21.98 bested Olivia Smoliga’s time of 21.99 accomplished in 2012 in Illinois.

“I had no idea,” said Weitzeil of how close she was to the record. “I knew the 50, I had no idea about the 100. I knew the 50 more because I was focused on breaking that 22 (second barrier).”

Popov took home the 200-yard individual medley crown with a 1 minute, 59.90 second performance, and doubled her win total with a 1:01.17 in the 100-yard breaststroke.

“I knew I had a good chance of getting first and winning,” Popov said. “But I knew I had to find something inside of me to go and get it.”

Just a freshman, Popov has already helped her Vikings team to its first Foothill League title in program history, and now adds two individual titles to her trophy case.

Over the previous two seasons, only Weitzeil has brought individual CIF-SS titles back to the Santa Clarita Valley.

But this year saw not only Weitzeil and Popov win, but Cogswell and the Hart boys 400-free relay team, as well.

Cogswell won the 100-yard free in 43.97 and just missed a second title in the 200 free when he finished second in 1:36.81.

Santa Margarita’s Grant Shoults beat him out with a 1:35.99.

“It was incredible,” Cogswell said. “I had a really good time. It meant a lot. Last year I wasn’t able to compete at CIF, to come back this year and win the individual and win the relay, it was a big feat but I was really happy to do it with my team on the relay.”

The meet concluded with another stellar performance by an Indians 400-free relay that has been dominant all season.

Cogswell led off with a 44.63 100-yard split, and teammates Austin Barreiro, Kevin Moore and Matt Johnson followed to secure the CIF-SS title with a time of 3:02.14.

That time beat out Redlands High, which posted a 3:02.60.

“At the very top,” said Johnson of where the swim ranked in his mind. “I know even though Cole had some fantastically amazing swims today, I think that relay to him and to all of us topped everything that we’ve done ever — period. It was just that great.”

For Johnson, The Signal’s defending All-Santa Clarita Valley Boys Swimmer of the Year, the relay was also an opportunity to close out what he had considered an underwhelming day to that point.

“Honestly, it was an experience like no other,” Johnson said. “Especially since my three previous swims were subpar in my book. To come back and do something great for my team and get a CIF title like that was just overwhelmingly great. I have no other way to put it.”

A number of other Foothill League athletes had strong days, despite not winning titles.

Hart’s Tamara Santoyo was second in the 100 fly and fourth in the 50 free — Santoyo tied in the 50 with teammate Mik Ranslem, both of whom posted 55.47-second swims.

Valencia’s Kevin Dai was third in the 100 free and sixth in the 200 IM.

The Hart boys 200-free relay team of Cogswell, Moore, Barreiro and Johnson placed second, while Valencia’s team of Dai, Jessie Kim, Tyler Tran and Jack Kerchner was third.

Kim added a second-place finish in the 100 back, posting a 48.39 behind Redlands swimmer Kyle Gornay’s 47.15.

The Hart girls 400-free relay team of Santoyo, Ranslem, Emma Osowski and Alyssa Schultz was fourth, finishing in 3:28.60; the same team finished fifth in the 200-free relay in 1:36.92.

“We’ve really stepped up our performances and it’s showing,” said Cogswell of Canyons Aquatics Swim Club, the club that he and most of the top Foothill League swimmers swim for. “All the training we’ve been doing has paid off. It’s been incredible, and the results you can see them at the meets and everything. It was really inspiring to see everybody, even the freshmen pulling in wins and top three finishes.”

Notes: In the girls meet, both Hart (seventh) and Valencia (10th) placed in the top 10 overall. In the boys meet, Hart was fourth overall, while Valencia was sixth.


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