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Titans, Mustangs afloat with top swimming talent Phillip Brents | Fri, Apr 22 2011 11:57 PM

The Metro Conference is home to several elite swimmers, most prominently on display each week via resident powerhouses Eastlake and Otay Ranch.

It’s not surprising. Eastlake has has notched five consecutive top four finishes at the San Diego Section Division I girls finals. Otay Ranch is the defending Mesa League boys dual meet champions.

Otay Ranch senior Mike Kowalski is poised perhaps for the biggest finish after placing second at last year’s Division I finals in both the 50-yard freestyle and 100 butterfly events. The CIF champion in last year’s 100 butterfly was a senior, so it figures that Kowalski should be the favorite to capture that event this year.

He said he is motivated by self-improvement, regardless of how things pan out.

“I just want to improve,” he said. “It would be cool to win CIF.”

Avoiding what all swimmers and coaches fear — burnout — is the ultimate key to success for any swimmer, no matter at what competitive level.

“I started swimming at age 6 and I’m kind of burned out but it’s still fun,” he admitted. “I’m out there to improve my times. It feels great to win races.”

Kowalski finished his sophomore and junior seasons undefeated in dual meets and remains undefeated thus far this season.

His best times this season are 21.87 seconds in the 50 freestyle, 54.85 in the 100 butterfly and 50.01 in the 100 freestyle.

Kowalski, whose goals include swimming at the community college level, said he feels good about where he is at midseason.

“I’m on track with the training I’ve done so far,” he said. “I’m about where I am expected to be.”

Besides Kowalski, other top swimmers on the Mustangs include Sarah Medina, Juan Robles, Mariela Rodriguez, Sabrina Ogden, Laryssa Lucatero, Matt Switzer and Sara Gagarin.

Medina has already attained automatic CIF qualifying times in the 200 freestyle, 200 IM and 100 butterfly while posting consideration times in the 50 and 100 freestyle.

Robles has made consideration times in the 100 butterfly, 200 IM and 100 backstroke while Rodriguez owns consideration times in the 100, 200 and 500 freestyle.

Robles finished second at the Division I finals last year in the backstroke event.

Ogden has posted consideration times in he 200 freestyle, 200 IM, 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke while Lucatero has notched consideration times in the 200 IM, 100 butterfly and 500 freestyle.
Switzer has made a consideration time in the 100 backstroke while Gagarin has done the same in the 200 IM.

Eastlake’s top swimmers include Luca Casimiro and Justine Maher and Ian Muhlbach.

Casimiro, a junior, competed as a freshman but took a year off to concentrate on club swimming last year. He’s back and ready to take his place among the section’s elite swimmers after setting a meet record in the 200 IM at the Mt. Carmel Invitational earlier this season.

Casimiro’s record time at the Mt. Carmel Invitational was 1:56.94. He also competes in the 100 butterfly event.

Muhlbach, a senior, won gold medals at last year’s Mesa League championship meet as part of the 200 medley and 400 freestyle relay teams. A sprint freestyler, he’s also added the 200 freestyle to his swim repertoire this season.

Maher has been an integral part of the Titans’ recent success at the CIF level. She placed first in both the 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly at last year’s league championship meet while also swimming a leg on the victorious 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams.

The four-time 2010 Mesa League gold medalist went on to finish second in the 50 freestyle at the Division I finals.

But such talent just the tip of the iceberg on a team that includes 103 swimmers, according to Titan coach Bryan Monzon.

Besides Muhlbach and Casimiro, other top returners on the boys team include Jian Miclat (50 and 100 freestyle/butterfly) and Adam Hilborn (100 breaststroke).

Impact newcomers include freshmen John Randazzo (500 freestyle and 100 breaststroke) and Jimmy Jeffery (200 freestyle and 100 backstroke).

The foursome of Casimiro, Jeffery, Miclat and Muhlbach finished third in the 400 freestyle relay at the Mt. Carmel Invitational in 3:29.79.

Anchoring the EHS girls team are top returners Maher, Josselyn Molina (100 and 200 freestyle), Simone Banks (200 IM, 50 freestyle and 100 breaststroke) and Aabra Ahmed (50 freestyle, 100 backstroke).

They are buttressed by impact newcomers Melanie Yngson (200 IM, 100 butterfly) and Mia Lam (50 and 100 freestyle), both freshmen, and junior Yani Moyna (200 and 500 freestyle).

Monzon said this may be the best boys team he’s had while coaching at Eastlake.

As for the girls squad, he doesn’t expect it to challenge for a section title this year but feels the 2011 EHS edition remains one of the South Bay’s premier teams.

“We’re still pretty deep,” Monzon said. “We lost some top line CIF star power (to graduation) but we have a lot of depth to do well in dual meets.”

Eastlake swept Hilltop in both ends of a league dual meet (125-59 on the boys side and 119-61 on the girls side) March 30 at Southwestern College.



Boys: Eastlake 108, Otay Ranch 74
Girls: Eastlake 97, Otay Ranch 86

Boys top marks (April 14): Mike Kowalski (OR) 41.78 (50 free), 48.43 (100 free);  Juan Robles (100 butterfly) 56.42, 2;06.55 (200 IM); Ian Muhlbach (EL) 1:50.84 (200 free), 48.78 (100 free); Luca Casimiro (EL) 1:59.32 (200IM), 52.70 (butterfly); Jian Miclat (EL) 22.43 (50 free)

Top girls marks (April 14): Simone Banks (EL) 2:21.41 (200 IM); Justine Maher (EL) 25.52 (50 free), 54.76 (100 free); Sarah Medina (OR) 2:21.36 (200 IM). Diving: Zully Maldonado (OR) 167.0 points


Metro Conference
Swimming Scoreboard

Boys results
Thursday, April 7

Otay Ranch 112, Hilltop 74

Wednesday, March 30
Otay Ranch 127, Mater Dei Catholic 54
Eastlake 125, Hilltop 59

Thursday, March 24

Otay Ranch 119, Bonita Vista 60
Hilltop 92, Mater Dei Catholic 91

Tuesday, March 22

Otay Ranch 125, Mar Vista 60

Thursday, March 10
Eastlake 150, Mar Vista 37

Girls results
Thursday, April 7

Otay Ranch 118, Hilltop 69

Wednesday, March 30
Otay Ranch 136, Mater Dei Catholic 41
Eastlake 119, Hilltop 61

Thursday, March 24

Otay Ranch 141, Bonita Vista 40
Hilltop 124, Mater Dei Catholic 58

Tuesday, March 22
Otay Ranch 118, Mar Vista 65

Thursday, March 10
Hilltop 107, High Tech High 85
Eastlake 125, Mar Vista 63

Thursday, March 3
Hilltop 98, Monte Vista 85

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