Curtis Ogren
Courtesy of: Peter H. Bick


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By Emily Sampl

BOULDER, Colorado, May 14. ANOTHER high school swimming season will come to a close in California this week as the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) section meets begin. The Central Coast Section meet will take place May 16-17 at the Santa Clara Swim Center, while the North Coast Section meet will be held May 15-17 at the Concord Community Pool. Finals of the Southern Section meet will take place on Saturday. Here are some of the athletes and schools to watch in the three meets.

Central Coast Section


Willow Glen's Catherine Ladd, who is headed to the University of California-Berkeley in the fall, could walk away with two individual titles in her final high school competition. She's seeded second in the 200 free to Gunn's Jennifer Campbell with a 1:48.55, and first in the 100 free at 50.38. Campbell could pick up two individual titles as well, as she's the top seed in the 500 free with a 4:49.73. She'll face stiff competition in that event from Pioneer's Sandra Soe, who comes in with a 4:51.20, ten seconds faster than third seed Sarah Shimomura.

Sacred Heart's Ally Howe, who will swim at Stanford in the fall of 2014, will give her school a major boost in the 200 IM and 100 back. Howe is seeded second in the IM with a 2:03.80, behind Burlingame senior Leah Goldman (2:01.85), who's headed to Duke next year. She's also seeded second in the 100 back, just .35 behind Presentation sophomore Chloe Isleta. Isleta will swim the 200 IM as well, where she's seeded fourth at 2:06.76. Monta Vista will look to repeat as champions, while Archbishop Mitty looks poised to dethrone the defending champs.

The boys' meet is shaping up to be a four-team battle between Bellarmine Prep, St. Ignatius, Palo Alto and Saint Francis. Bellarmine Prep has won the last 29 consecutive CCS titles and will be looking for number 30 this weekend. They'll count on Aidan Burns and Michael Messner for big points in the race for the team title. Burns won both the 200 and 500 free last year and enters as the top seed in both events again this time around with times of 1:40.35 and 4:30.24. He went much faster last year, posting times of 1:37.25 and 4:22.53, and will likely be close to those again. Messner is the third seed in the 200 IM (1:55.10) and fifth seed in the 500 free (4:40.13).

Palo Alto will look to brothers Alex and Andrew Liang to lead the team this weekend. Alex, a freshman, is the third seed in both the 200 free (1:42.00) and 500 free (4:32.96), while Andrew, a senior, will have major title hopes in the 50 free (20.33) and 100 fly (47.74), with the top seed time in both. Curtis Ogren will lead the charge from Saint Francis as the Stanford-bound senior enters the meet as the favorite in the 200 IM (1:48.54) and 100 breast (54.86). Ogren set the CCS record in both events last year at 1:45.01 and 53.90.

North Coast Section

The Campolindo boys are poised to bring home their 10th consecutive North Coast Section title this weekend, but they'll have their hands full with Northgate and Granada in what should be a fast and highly competitive meet.

Freshman Maxime Rooney should make an immediate impact in his first NCS championship meet for Granada, as he comes into the meet with the best time in the 200 free (1:39.40) and 500 free (4:33.17). Teammates Trent Trump and Nick Silverthorn are also within striking distance in the 200 free, while Silverthorn is also seeded fifth in the 100 breast. Northgate, who finished eighth as a team last year, will need big performances from Stanley Wu in the 200 IM (1:54.23) and 100 breast (56.35), Mason Tittle in the 50 free (21.07) and 100 fly (50.57) and Michal Zyla in the 100 back (50.32) in order to challenge for the team trophy. Campolindo's Cole Stevens (200 IM, 1:54.39 and 100 back, 51.42) and Jolen Griffin (100 fly, 49.55 and 100 back, 51.45) will look to carry the team with a couple of top five finishes.

On the girls' side, San Ramon Valley looks to be in the driver's seat for the team title with outstanding depth across the board and multiple girls seeded in scoring position in every event. Sophomore Christina Chong will look to bring home the 200 IM title as the top seed (2:04.06), while Heidi Poppe would like to wrap up her high school career with double victories in the 50 free (23.65) and 100 breast (1:00.51). Gianna Garcia (100 fly, 54.78) and Claire Therien (500 free, 4:53.91) also enter the meet with title aspirations as the top seeds in their respective events.

Southern Section

The Southern Section meet is shaping up to be a fast one with a tight team race on both the girls' and boys' side, and a couple of individual standout swimmers should make for some very quick times.

On the girls' side, Santa Margarita's Kathryn McLaughlin should be a factor in both her individual events -- the 200 free (1:49.70) and 100 fly (53.29). She set the Division I meet record last year in the 200 free at 1:45.39 and will need a faster time than 1:49.70 to beat top seed Rachel Thompson of Foothill, who's seeded at 1:49.37. McLaughlin also owns the meet record in the 100 fly, which she established last year at 52.93.

Saugus' Abbey Weitzeil will be looking for the sprint free double as the second seed in the 50 free (22.92) and top seed in the 100 free (48.90). She owns the Division I meet record in the 50 at 22.25 from last year, not far off Olivia Smoliga's national high school record of 21.99 from 2012. She also owns the meet record in the 100 free after posting a 48.83 last year.

San Clemente's Aidan Pastel has the opportunity to sweep the boys' 200 free (1:39.09) and 100 free (45.26), but he'll have to hold off Redlands senior Kyle Gornay, who comes in just a hair behind with a 45.40. Gornay is the top seed in the 100 back later on in the meet with a 49.39, and he owns the meet record in the event at 47.04 from last year.

The boys' 500 free looks to be a three-way battle between University's Ken Takahashi (4:27.31), Capistrano Valley's Nicholas Norman (4:27.53) and Servite's Jerad Kaskawal (4:27.62).

University High School could make a huge statement in their quest for the boys' title with the top three seeds in the 200 IM in Corey Okubo (1:46.87), Ken Takahashi (1:50.31) and Daniel Tran (1:50.47). Okubo will be chasing the Division I meet record of 1:46.96 set by Yucaipa's Trevor Hoyt in 2009. Okubo will also swim the 100 fly, where he's seeded second in 48.69.

In the team race, look for the JSerra girls and University boys to challenge for the team titles. Santa Margarita should be in the mix on both sides as well.