Well, this year’s Mesa League swimming and diving championship meets lived up to their billing, and perhaps more, as the Eastlake Titans and Otay Ranch Mustangs traded team point titles to continue their rule over South County waters.
Eastlake swept both the boys and girls team titles at last year’s league finals but Otay Ranch, as expected, had something to say about that this year. The Titans repeated as boys league championship meet champions by out-pointing the Mustangs 548-449. But Otay Ranch ended Eastlake’s reign by winning the girls team title by a score of 508-485.
Hilltop finished in third place in both the boys and girls meets.
“It was exceptional,” ORHS swim coach Ernie Medina said. “The plan was for everybody to come into the meet to better their placing, and that’s essentially what happened. Everybody exhibited a lot of heart and determination.”
Otay Ranch set five new school records.
Two came in relay events: the girls 200 medley (2:01.48, second) and girls 400 freestyle (3:51.12, first). Individual school records were set by Sarah Medina in the 200 freestyle (2:02.28, first) and Mike Kowalski in the 100 butterfly (51.87, second). Also, Zully Maldonado set a new school record in girls diving this season with 168.95 points for six dives.
The diving finals took place last Friday (May 13) at Parkway pool; the swim finals took place the following day (May 14) at Loma Verde pool.
Eastlake captured first-place finishes in six of the 11 boys swimming events and in three girls swimming events. Five schools were represented by champions in the hotly contested girls swim finals.
Eastlake senior Justine Maher earned recognition as the 2011 Mesa League girls Swimmer of the Year while EHS junior Luca Casimiro received the nod as the league’s boys Swimmer of the Year.
"I'm very proud of all our swimmers," EHS coach Bryan Monzon said. "They performed well and worked incredibly hard this season. I'm especially proud of Justine and Luca. They definitely earned Swimmer of the Year honors. I look forward to seeing how they compete at CIFs this week."
Maher repeated as the league champion in winning the 50 freestyle (25.18) while also claiming the league title in the 100 freestyle (54.54). She also swam a leg on the Titans’ victorious 200 medley relay team (1:58.58).
“It’s an honor to be recognized by the league’s coaches,” Maher said. “I’ve swam here for four years — I’m really happy that I got recognized.”
Casimiro, who got into swimming after watching Michael Phelps star at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, made a triumphant return to high school swimming after taking a year off to concentrate on club. He won the boys 200 IM championship in 2:00.07 and sent ripples through the pool with a dramatic touch-finish to unseat Otay Ranch senior Kowalski in the 100 butterfly.
Casimiro also swam a leg on the Titans’ victorious 200 medley relay (1:42.29). “I love competing — the adrenaline rush on the blocks gets me,” he said.
In the duel between the county’s top butterfliers, Casimiro (51.83) got the nod over Kowalski (51.87) at the wall. The loss was the first for Kowalski in four league finals.
The EHS swimmer said he found extra motivation to make up for a mistake that disqualified the Titans from the 400 freestyle relay in prelim qualifying earlier in the week. “It was my fault and I felt I needed to make it up to help the team,” Cassimiro said.
“It was my fault and I felt I needed to make it up to help the team,” he said.
Despite being out-touched in the butterfly event, Kowalski still turned in power-packed league finals by winning the 50 freestyle (21.97) and swimming a leg on the Mustangs’ first place 200 freestyle relay team (1:35.33).
Eastlake senior Ian Muhlbach also had a sensational meet by winning the boys 100 freestyle (48.85) and 200 freestyle (1:48.40) — both personal bests — while anchoring the Titans’ winning 200 medley relay unit.
Chula Vista’s Lidia Espinoza retained her league title in the girls 200 IM (2:18.36) while also winning the 500 freestyle (5:27.53).
Otay Ranch totaled four individual champions. Joining Kowalski in the victory lane were Sarah Medina (girls 200 freestyle, 2:02.28), Sabrina Ogden (girls 100 butterfly, 1:02.17) and Juan Robles (boys 100 backstroke, 56.85). The Mustangs also posted winning times in three relay events: girls 200 and 400 freestyle and boys 200 freestyle. The winning times in the girls 200 freestyle relay was 1:47.78.
Eastlake’s John Randazzo made a first impression by winning the boys 500 freestyle (5:15.83).
Bonita Vista’s Anthony Ribal (boys 100 breaststroke, 1:02.40) and Mater Dei Catholic’s Giselle Suarez (girls 100 backstroke, 1:04.25) both repeated as league champions.
Hilltop’s event winners included Diana Carreon in the girls 100 breaststroke (1:12.13) and its boys 400 freestyle relay team (3:42.35). Oscar Vizcarra, Forrest Godinez, Juan Ontiveros and Garvin comprised the Lancers relay squad.
All three of Otay Ranch’s girls relays — 200 medley, 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle — made the automatic CIF qualifying standard while the Mustangs’ boys 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays also met the automatic qualifying standard.
Medina’s winning time in the 200 freestyle was an automatic time while Robles’ second-place 2:05.80 time in the boys 200 IM and Kowalski’s winning time in the 50 freestyle also met the automatic standard.
The Mustangs recorded three automatic qualifying times in the 100 butterfly: Ogden (1:02.17, first) and Medina (1:02.33, second) in the girls race and Kowalski in the boys race.
Robles also recorded an automatic qualifying time of 56.89 in winning the 100 backstroke.
Consideration times were notched by Laryssa Lucatero (2:23.45, third) in the girls 200 IM and (56.85, second) in the 100 freestyle, Mariela Rodriguez (26.98, fifth) in the girls 50 freestyle and (5:41.83, second) in the 500 freestyle.
Ogden also recorded a consideration time in the 100 backstroke (1:09.34, third).
Hilltop swept last Friday’s individual titles, with Shane Garvin capturing the boys championship with 177.9 points and Ashley Relph winning the girls championship with 172.15 points. Relph repeated as the individual league champion. Garvin was second in last year’s boys competition.
Separate Mesa League Diver of the Year awards were presented. Garvin received the nod for the 2011 league boys diver of the year while Relph and teammate Ashley Johnson shared the girls award.
Relph and Johnson (169.6 points, second) finished first and second in last Friday’s league diving finals. Following them, in order, were Otay Ranch’s Maldonado (151.5 points, third), Hilltop’s Marissa Ringwald (138.65, fourth), Otay Ranch’s Vania Paris (131.3 points, fifth), Bonita Vista’s Carlin Riley (121.35 points, sixth), Otay Ranch’s Alexis Gambs (116.7 points, seventh), Bonita Vista’s Miranda Leopold (97.15 points, eighth) and Chula Vista’s Cynthia Hernandez (91.35 points, ninth).
Garvin and Chula Vista’s Lorenzo Ledesma (161.65 points, second) finished atop the boys league dive finals. Following were Hilltop’s Aaron Siaumau (154.85 points, third), Chula Vista’s Johnny Hewuse (150.65 points, fourth), Otay Ranch’s Abraham Mercado (142.9 points, fifth), Johnathan Mercado (140.0 points, sixth) and Carlo Fiorillo (126.4 points, seventh), Hilltop’s Jason Jasmund (125.1 points, eighth), Otay Ranch’s Tyler Hawkins (116.85 points, ninth), Bonita Vista’s Isaac Metta (104.05 points, 10th), Hilltop’s Nick Norton (95.45 points, 11th) and Bonita Vista’s Jose Tapia (73.45 points, 12th).
"I'm very happy, very proud of our team's performance all the way around, especially with our new divers," HHS coach John Salts said. "Our veteran divers worked hard all through the off-season and throughout this season. That hard work paid off with their performances. It's nice to see how many divers from the other schools there were and the quality of the talent. The quality of the coaching down here in the South Bay has improved and, as a result of that, so has the quality of diving at the high school level. Because of that, the future of the sport is looking brighter."
Mesa League Swimming Finals
2011 Parade of Champions
Boys event winners
200 medley relay: Eastlake (Luca Casimiro, Adam Hilborn, Jian Miclat, Ian Muhlbach) 1:42.29
200 freestyle: Ian Muhlbach (Eastlake) 1:48.40
200 individual medley: Luca Casimiro (Eastlake) 2:00.07
50 freestyle: Mike Kowalski (Otay Ranch) 21.97
Diving: Shane Garvin (Hilltop) 177.90 points
100 butterfly: Luca Casimiro (Eastlake) 51.83
100 freestyle: Ian Muhlbach (Eastlake) 48.85
500 freestyle: John Randazzo (Eastlake) 5:15.83
200 freestyle relay: Otay Ranch (Matthew Switzer, McKenzie Kbloss, Juan Robles, Mike Kowalski) 1:35.33
100 backstroke: Juan Robles (Otay Ranch) 56.85
100 breaststroke: Anthony Ribal (Bonita Vista) 1:02.40
400 freestyle relay: Hilltop (Oscar Vizcarra, Forrest Godinez, Juan Ontiveros, Shane Garvin) 3:42.35
Swimmer of the Year: Luca Casimiro (Eastlake)
Sportsmanship award: Isaac Noyola (Otay Ranch)
Girls event winners
200 medley relay: Eastlake (Aabra Ahmed, Simone Banks, Melanie Yngson, Justine Maher) 1:58.58
200 freestyle: Sarah Medina (Otay Ranch) 2:10.63
200 individual medley: Lidia Espinoza (Chula Vista) 2:18.36
50 freestyle: Justine Maher (Eastlake) 25.18
Diving: Ashley Relph (Hilltop) 172.15 points
100 butterfly: Sabrina Ogden (Otay Ranch) 1:02.17
100 freestyle: Justine Maher (Eastlake) 54.54
500 freestyle: Lidia Espinoza (Chula Vista) 5:27.53
200 freestyle relay: Otay Ranch (Cailin Lechner, Sara Gagarin, Mariela Rodirigez, Sarah Medina) 1:47.78
100 backstroke: Giselle Suarez (Mater Dei Catholic) 1:04.25
100 breaststroke: Diana Carreon (Hilltop) 1:12.13
400 freestyle relay: Otay Ranch (Sabrina Ogden, Sara Gagarin, Laryssa Lucatero, Sarah Medina) 3:51.12
Swimmer of the Year: Justine Maher (Eastlake)
Sportsmanship award: Sarah Medina (Otay Ranch)
South Bay League Finals
Parade of Champions
Boys event winners
200 medley relay: Mar Vista 1:57.90
200 freestyle: Dominic Rodriguez (Mar Vista) 2:06.44
200 individual medley: Armondo Inzunza (San Ysidro) 2:13.10
50 freestyle: Thomas Castillo (Mar Vista) 24.88
100 butterfly: Armondo Inzunza (San Ysidro) 1:00.38
100 freestyle: Thomas Castillo (Mar Vista) 55.11
500 freestyle: Jon Nicoloff (Mar Vista) 5:33.84
200 freestyle relay: Mar Vista 1:44.25
100 backstroke: Zack Mahan (Mar Vista) 1:05.32
100 breaststroke: Christian Fojaco (Olympian) 1:17.68
400 freestyle relay: Mar Vista 3:51.27
Swimmer of the Year: Thomas Castillo (Mar Vista)
Sportsmanship award: Jon Nicoloff (Mar Vista)
Girls event winners
200 medley relay: Mar Vista 2:09.64
200 freestyle: Michelle McDonald (Mar Vista) 2:15.02
200 individual medley: Kimberly Ramos (Montgomery) 2:47.13
50 freestyle: Kimberly Parra (Olympian) 28.31
100 butterfly: Natasha MacAskill (Mar Vista) 1:07.51
100 freestyle: Kimberly Parra (Olympian) 1:02.99
500 freestyle: Natasha MacAskill (Mar Vista) 5:43.76
200 freestyle relay: Mar Vista 1:53.81
100 backstroke: Alexis Patacsil (Mar Vista) 1:12.76
100 breaststroke: Reily Landry (Mar Vista) 1:22.71
400 freestyle relay: Mar Vista 4:32.14
Swimmer of the Year: Michelle McDonald (Mar Vista)
Sportsmanship award: Kim Parra (Olympian)
South Bay League Diving Championships
1. Michelle McDonald (Mar Vista) points N/A
2. Kelly Clemmons (Olympian) points N/A
3. Maxine Hanson (Mar Vista) points N/A
Diver of the Year: Michelle McDonald (Mar Vista)
1. Albert Ludwig (Mar Vista) points N/A
Diver of the Year: Albert Ludwig (Mar Vista)