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Valencia wins girls, boys swim titles

Posted: May 8, 2014 9:45 p.m.
Updated: May 8, 2014 9:45 p.m.

Valencia senior Jessie Kim swims the boys 100-yard butterfly at the Foothills League swim final on Thursday at Santa Clarita Aquatics Center.

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The Valencia swim team has waited nearly two decades to call itself Foothill League champions.

So it’s understandable why the Vikings might view the final event of Thursday’s Foothill League finals as somewhat of a victory lap.

With the girls championship already locked up, 513-437.5 over Hart, the boys 400-free relay team needed only to finish the race to give the Vikings a clean sweep.

The team of Logan Propst, Johnny Ellery, Brian Buxton and Tyler Tran were certainly patient — doing everything they could to ensure they weren’t disqualified; When Tran touched the wall in 3 minutes, 14.52 seconds for third, though, the Vikings erupted in celebration with a 513-501 victory over the Indians.

“I told them half a dozen times, wait till the swimmer gets out of the water,” said Valencia head coach Chris Stroh. “Just finish the race.”

After placing a significant amount of swimmers into finals at Tuesday’s Foothill League prelims, the Vikings’ girls team looked to be in a good position to take home the championship — the first Foothill League title not won by Hart since 2003, when Saugus took the crown.

But the Valencia boys knew their meet would be tighter, with Hart quickly closing the gap on Thursday to take a 371-367 lead through the 200-free relay.

No Santa Clarita Valley team had ever beaten out Hart for the title, with the Indians last losing to Burbank in 1996.

In the 200-free-relay event, Austin Barreiro, Kevin Moore, Naphong Aneksirikul and Cole Cosgwell broke the Foothill League record in 1:24.14, with Cogswell anchoring at a blistering pace, posting a 19.94 second 50-yard split and outtouching Valencia’s Kevin Dai, who posted a 20.68 final 50.

“It’s bittersweet,” Cogswell said. “I’m very good friends with almost everyone on Valencia. It stinks not winning, but they wanted it as bad as we did and they deserve it.”

The Indians needed that 200-free relay to have a chance at the meet, but they also needed quite a few other things to break their way down the stretch.

But nearly all of them went to the Vikings.

Valencia’s Jessie Kim followed the relay with a victory in the 100-yard backstroke, outtouching Cogswell 50.04 to 50.23, to put Valencia up for good at 428-416.

“I knew after we lost the 200 free we were behind,” Kim said. “I put my head in the game and I said ‘This is my race.’”

From there, Valencia continued to open up its lead until it entered the final event, the boys 400-yard relay, with a 20-point lead that was insurmountable unless the Vikings were disqualified.

“It came from a meeting we had two years ago,” said Stroh of how the Vikings were able to overcome the deficit down the stretch. “We said that this meet in two years was where you show up and execute or you fall on your face. Big swimmers showed up in big races (today).”

Even though their chances of winning the meet were slim, the Indians were dominant in the 400-free relay.

The Indians’ Barreiro, Moore, Matt Johnson and Cogswell broke the oldest William S. Hart Union High School District record still standing, posting a 3:05.90 to dethrone 1998 Hart swimmers Ryan Parmenter, Eric Pritchett, Christian Kneppeck and Olympic gold medalist Anthony Ervin.

Cogswell had already broken the finals meet’s oldest record earlier in the day, winning the 50-yard freestyle in 20.68 to beat out Ervin’s 1999 record of 20.81.

Cogswell certainly wasn’t alone, either, as records were falling like dominoes all day.

Six of the first eight events saw meet records fall, with a total of nine records set on the day.

Two time Santa Clarita Valley Girls Swimmer of the Year Abbey Weitzeil broke two of those, breaking her own record in the 100 free (49.11) and breaking the 2009 record of 54.98 in the 100 back set by Hart’s Chelsea Griffiths with a 54.57 on Thursday.

Two of Weitzeil’s Saugus teammates took home titles in the boys meet, with Alex Chan winning the 100 free in 46.42 and freshman Tanner Olson coming from behind in the 100 breast in 58.14 to beat Valencia’s Dai by .02 seconds.

Weitzeil was named the girls swimmer of the meet, while Valencia’s Kim and Hart’s Johnson split the boys honor.

Kim won both the 100 fly and 100 back titles, while Johnson took the 200 free and 500 free.

The girls meet featured little of the late drama of the boys meet, with Valencia entering the meet as big favorites.

The Vikings led 298-271 over Hart through event 24, and cruised down the stretch.

The Indians, though, still won more individual titles, taking five of the 11 events, with Valencia winning four and Weitzeil taking home two.

Valencia freshman Nicole Popov won the 200-yard individual medley in a meet record time of 2:02.08 and doubled in the 100 breast (1:03.00).

Hart’s Ally Schultz took home two league titles, winning the 200 free in 1:52.73 and 500 free in 4:58.75.

“It hasn’t sunk in, it feels like a blessing almost,” said Valencia senior Sophie Fiscella, who helped the Vikings win the 200-medley and 200-free relays. “We were able to rally together and we clicked as as team and we got it — we got the win.”

Notes: The final boys varsity standings were — Valencia 513, Hart 501, Saugus 325, West Ranch 217, Canyon 159.5, Golden Valley 86.50; Girls varsity — Valencia 513, Hart 437.5, West Ranch 304.5, Saugus 301, Canyon 148; Boys JV — Valencia 436.5, Hart 326.5, Golden Valley 203, Canyon 187.5, West Ranch 175; Saugus 153.5; Girls JV — Valencia 349, Hart 344, West Ranch 251, Canyon 194.5, Golden Valley 143.

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