Prior to last Saturday’s CIF Division II Swimming & Diving Championships at Granite Hills High School, veteran La Costa Canyon Head Coach Patty Mackle lamented her teams’ lack of depth when assessing the chances of both the girls and boys squads of winning a section title.
It turned out Mackle’s concerns were warranted as the LCC girls finished second (311 pts.), edged out by repeat champion Cathedral Catholic (353) while the boys, with 223 points, were third behind Cathedral Catholic (344) and Bishop’s (241). But what the Mavericks lacked in quantity, they more than made up for in quality. The team trophies may have gone elsewhere, but LCC swimmers were definitely the stars of the show.
Between its two teams, La Costa Canyon won seven individual races, four relays and set five section records. The Mav girls started out on fire, prevailing in the first four events. For openers, the quartet of freshman Noelle Harvey and juniors Tegan Preston, Erin Taggart and Rachel Rhee linked up to go 1:45.18 in the 200 medley relay, erasing the section record that had been set just hours before in the CIF Division I meet by Torrey Pines.
Rhee returned in the very next race to handily bag her third consecutive 200 freestyle title in a time of 1:47.47 and less than a half hour later was back in the water, bettering her own section standard while capturing the 50 freestyle in 23.05. “Rachel is an amazing swimmer and she’s a year older and stronger,” said Mackle. “She hit everything just right to get the record, a great dive, good turns and a strong finish.”
Sandwiched in between Rhee’s dominance was Preston getting out comfortably in the 200 individual medley before blowing away the field on her specialty leg, the breaststroke, and motoring home in 2:04.21 for a second straight CIF conquest in that event. Afterward, she talked about her race and the relay triumph.
“Through the first two legs of the IM, I try to be sure I’m with the field and then going from backstroke to breaststroke, I know I have control because it’s my best stroke,” she said. “I know I can go faster but I think that will come with more endurance training over the summer. It will come but I’m happy with the win.” She may have been even happier with the relay results.
“Winning the 200 medley relay was the best feeling ever—I think that was the highlight of my meet,” continued Preston. “Winning individually is nice but winning with the team is even more special. This is such an amazing group of girls and breaking Torrey Pines’ record made it even better. LCC and Torrey Pines have been rivals for a long time.
”Preston was hardly finished, repeating as champion in the 100 breaststroke (1:03.23) later in the meet. In the day’s final event, Preston handled the second leg on the victorious 400 freestyle relay unit that included Rhee, Bella Bram and Harvey. The latter was capping a successful first CIF appearance in which she grabbed second in the 500 freestyle and third in the 200 freestyle.
The LCC boys, who did all of their damage with just four swimmers reaching championship finals, were equally impressive. Seniors Dylan Delaney and Brandon Kulik did the lion’s share of the Mavericks’ point-scoring. Both won individual races and were part of two gold medal relay outfits.
Delaney started his afternoon in winning fashion by clocking a section record 20.35 in the 50 freestyle. He later took runner-up honors in the 100 free (45.93). The versatile Kulik doubled in the 100 butterfly (48.55) and 100 backstroke (49.55).
The foursome of Delaney, Kulik, Philip Pozdnyakov and Steven Abrahamson won both the 200 (1:25.77) and 400 freestyle (3:05.44) relays. In the latter, Kulik laid down a 45.5 anchor split which would have put him right in the mix of the boys 100 free final.