Demonstrating that they may be primed to do the same thing in the CIF Championships next weekend, the Torrey Pines boys and girls swimming and diving teams repeated as team titlists at Saturday’s Avocado West League Championships held at Cathedral Catholic High School.
“We’re pretty much where we need to be heading into CIF,” said Torrey Pines Head Coach Richard Contreras, whose boys and girls squads will be shooting for their fifth and 10th consecutive section titles respectively. “Our girls are really cohesive and consistent right now and while the boys still have some things to iron out, they’re pretty solid too.”
In the girls’ division, Contreras’s Falcons used their depth and relay dominance to rack up 594 pts., a full 126 points clear of runner-up La Costa Canyon. Carlsbad (381) finished third. The Torrey Pines quartet of Leah Coffin, Amelia Cho, Mia Kragh and Kira Crage set a league record (1:47.61) in capturing the day’s first event, the 200 medley relay, and went on to prevail in four individual events and the 200 freestyle relay before the festivities were concluded.
Torrey sophomore Kragh clocked 55.59 to beat a stellar field, that included her two-time defending CIF champion teammate Coffin, in the 100 butterfly. In one of the spotlight events of the afternoon, Kragh was third behind La Costa Canyon senior Rachel Rhee (23.73) and her own junior teammate Crage in the 50 freestyle. Crage turned the tables on Rhee in the 100 freestyle, posting a 51.37.
Cameron Collins (500 freestyle/5:04.16) and Ali Polidori (1m. diving/206.10) rounded out the individual award winners for Torrey Pines. The Falcons were DQ’d in their attempt to sweep the team races as LCC took the 400 free relay.
“Our big guns did what we expected,” said Contreras. “It was nice to see Kira (Crage) and Rachel (Rhee) go against each other in the 50 and 100 freestyles since they’ll be in different divisions at CIF—after Rachel won the 50, I was not surprised to see Kira come back and get her in the 100.
“I thought Cameron Collins swam a good race in the 500 freestyle and we had a lot of other less recognized girls like Sofia Lozano, Paige Shields and Charlotte Zhang, take nice steps forward and they could be good scorers for us this week.”
Coach Patty Mackle’s LCC girls’ crew featured two double event winners, senior Tegan Preston and sophomore Noelle Harvey. Preston grabbed the 200 individual medley (2:08.67) and 100 breaststroke (1:06.10) while Harvey covered the final 50 of the 200 freestyle in 27.82 to nip Carlsbad’s Lindsay Turner, a two-time CIF champion in the event, by one-one hundredth of a second (1:52.48). She came back to touch in 57.47 to carry the day in the 100 backstroke, a new Avo West record.
“Tegan has been swimming just as fast as everyone all season and knows what she has to do to be ready for next Saturday (CIF),” said Mackle. “She’ll be mentally prepared and really wants to defend in both of her races.
“I was standing with Tegan during Noelle’s 200 freestyle and we kept going back-and-forth as far as who was going to win. We thought Noelle would have enough speed over the final 50 to win it but they don’t get any closer than that. And, whenever you break a record held by one of the best swimmers in the world (Kendyl Stewart) like she did in the backstroke, you know you’re on the right path—I feel she can win both races at CIF.”
On the boys side, while not possessing quite the depth of their female counterparts, Torrey Pines had enough star power to reach the top in a field that was a bit more competitive. The Falcons chalked up 529.5 points, followed by Carlsbad (431) and Canyon Crest (421.5).
Explosive junior Stephan Lukashev ran away with gold in two events, registering new Avocado West standards in both the 50 freestyle (21.06) and 100 butterfly (49.33). He also anchored the Falcons’ first place 200 medley (1:37.36) and 200 freestyle (1:28.03-tie for first) relay foursomes. His triumph in the 100 butterfly keyed a 1-2-3 finish for Torrey.
“Stephan was outstanding today,” said Contreras. “He won the 100 butterfly by nearly four seconds and I was surprised he wasn’t able to get to the wall first in the 200 freestyle relay (where TP tied with Canyon Crest).”
Outside of Lukashev, senior Justin Lee was TP’S only other male event winner, sharing the 100 breaststroke crown with Mission Hills’ Ethan Hildesheim, both timed in a league record-breaking 57.62.
Joining Lukashev as two-event winners among the boys were La Costa Canyon’s Philip Pozdnyakov (100 freestyle/46.22 & 100 backstroke/51.63) and Hildesheim (200 freestyle/1:44.51 & 100 breaststroke).
“Philip has a lot of talent and keeps getting faster,” says Mackle. “He had a personal best today in the 100 freestyle and set a new league mark in the backstroke.
“He’s been in the shadows of guys like Dylan Delaney and Brandon Kulik the last two years and now he’s our No. 1 guy. I’m looking forward to watching him race at CIF.”
The Division I and II CIF Championships are scheduled for May 2 (prelims) and 4 (finals) at Del Norte High School.