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Tradition Continues

Hart boys, girls both capture Foothill League swimming championships

Posted: May 7, 2009 10:56 p.m.
Updated: May 8, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Hart High School's Nicole Antoniuk, front, trails Canyon's Adria Morales during the 500 freestyle Thursday at the Santa Clarita Aquatic Center.

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Hart swimming has always had a tradition of success, and Thursday at the Santa Clarita Aquatic Center, both the boys and girls teams made sure to continue the trend.

The girls posted a team score of 530, getting record-breaking performances from seniors Chelsea Griffiths and Jordan Danny, junior Maggie Hanson and their relay teams en rout to the program’s 27 title, while the boys were stretched to the brink by Valencia, edging out the second-place Vikings 501-473 for their 22nd league championship.

“It came from their tradition,” said Hart head coach Steve Neale. “They used it as a motivator.”

The Hart boys had to dig deep in order to best Valencia.

Just as Vikings head coach Mike Bechtoldt had predicted, his team jumped out to an early lead, forcing Hart to make a late charge.

In fact, Valencia led 370-353 after winning the 200-freestyle relay with a time of 1 minute, 28.94 seconds, beating the Indians by a mere 0.58 with four events left.

Both times bested the previous league mark of 1:30.23.

“They just had a little bit more depth for the strokes,” Bechtoldt said. “But, I think our kids made a statement — that there is a new kid on the block.”

Indeed it was the strokes late in the meet that gave Hart the edge, something that senior Nick Korth said he and Chris Weber put an emphasis on when talking to their teammates.

The two seniors went head-to-head in a crucial 100 breaststroke with only one other event remaining on the day.

Hart finished first, second, fourth and sixth in the race, highlighted by Korth and Weber’s duel.

Korth came out on top with a time of 57.36.

“It is better than anything else,” said Korth of his matchups with his senior teammate. “We have a great friendship. He’s a great swimmer. When I’ve got a best time, it has been against him.”

Hart’s Andrew Skvarna won the 50 freestyle (21.76) and they claimed the 200-medley relay (1:39.31).

“The boys, it is their senior season so winning this meet was important to their legacy,” Neale said.

Valencia’s Bob Hwang won the 200-individual medley by nearly nine seconds with a time of 1:55.76 and he broke the league record in the 100 butterfly (51.25).

The Vikings also took the 400-freestlye relay (3:14.22) to close out the meet and keep the score close.

However, some of the most dramatic wins came from West Ranch’s Riley Mita, who denied Hart and Konrad Antoniuk points in the 200 freestyle and 500 freestyle.

Mita’s 1:45.44 was .31 better than his Hart counterpart in the 200 freestyle, while a dramatic final kick in the 500 freestyle gave him a 0.07-win with a time of 4:43.64.

For the sophomore, it was just a matter of will.

“Just pulling from within you, and who wants it more,” said an exhausted Mita after winning the 500 freestyle.
Mita was also named the boys’ swimmer of the meet.

He was also the final leg of the 400-freestyle relay, which came in third with a time of 3:26.50, giving the Wildcats the edge over Saugus for third place.

“We like to save Riley for the end to secure the win,” said West Ranch co-head coach Christine Marsh. “We needed it desperately.”

Canyon’s Keaunui Harris was a double-winner in the 100 freestyle (47.52) and 100 backstroke (53.81).
Saugus finished fourth, followed by Canyon and Golden Valley.

The Cowboys’ wins from Harris, combined with standout performances by Saugus’ Justin McCance, Jimmy Karren, Justin Peris and Luke Rowley took points away from Hart and Valencia, keeping the meet neck-and-neck.

“I’m very proud of my kids,” said Saugus first-year head coach Vicky Donnelly. “They’ve definitely rose to the occasion, especially with me being the new guy.”

On the girls side, the day was largely dominated by Hart, who won by 174 points.

Hart’s 200-yard medley relay team of Griffiths, Danny, Hanson and Hayley Good started the day by breaking the district record with a time of 1:46.01.

Griffiths would go on to break district titles in the 100 freestyle (51.83) and 100 backstroke (54.98).

Coming into the season she said she was looking forward to working on the freestyle stroke.

“I was really shocked,” Griffiths said. “I worked on it and it finally paid off. I think I finally learned how to relax.”

When Griffiths wasn’t breaking records, Danny was, bettering her own district record with a time of 1:01.57.

She also broke the league record in the 200 individual medley with a 2:03.79.

“They are passing the torch,” Neale said of his seniors. “The girls had so much pride building since CIFs last year. It was the prefect spring board.”

Amid the individual accomplishments, Danny kept the focus on her team.

“Hart tradition is so much bigger than yourself,” she said.

Her young teammate Hanson improved her time league record-breaking time — which she set on Tuesday — in the 200 freestyle with posting a 1:53.90.

Hart also recorded wins in the 200-freestyle relay (1:39.20), beating Canyon by 1.13, and in the 400-freestyle relay (3:31.39).

However, Canyon’s also recorded its fair share of standout performances, namely from Kearsten Livingstone, who took home the district record in the 100 butterfly (55.19).

Sisters Adria and Allison Morales finished first and second in the 500 freestyle with times of 5:10.16 and 5:12.98, upsetting event-favorite Hart’s Nicole Antoniuk, who came in third.

Golden Valley’s Michelle Duraj rounded out the day’s winners with a victory in the 50 freestyle (24.28).

The junior was also named the girls swimmer of the meet.

“I didn’t expect it. I didn’t even know it existed,” Duraj said.

Canyon finished second with other strong performances from Sarah Pino and Kirsten Justice, followed by Valencia, Saugus, West Ranch and Golden Valley.

“That was one of the best (meets) we’ve had in a long time,” Bechtoldt said.


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