Bellarmine Prep Wins 20th Straight Central Cal Boys’ High School Team Title; Presentation Wins First-Ever Girls’ Crown

SANTA CLARA, CA. MEMO to Irvine High School's girls' swim team: Five-consecutive CIF Southern Section Division I Championships? Not bad, but you've got a long ways to go before you're in the same league with San Jose's Bellarmine Prep boys' team.

For the 20th-straight season Bellarmine was No. 1 in the CIF Central Coast Section (CCS) Championships at the George Haines-Santa Clara International Swimming Complex last weekend, while Presentation's girls won for their first championship.

Bellarmine racked-up 298 points to second-place Palo Alto's 262 with St. Francis (217) third.

On the girls' side, Presentation won its championship via a 311.5-255.5 triumph over Mitty with Homestead — winners in 1991 and again last season — third (195).

No national records were set but Palo Alto senior Eric Dilulio went a public school-leading 4:22.66 in the 500 free and a fine 1:49.91 in the 200 IM. The only faster prep 500 freestyler this season is Germantown Academy junior Fran Crippen, who was 4:21+ at the Eastern Chamopionships in Philadelphia three months ago.

Presentation's depth was the key to its victory as they won no individual events and only one relay (200 medley, 1:50.21 to Menlo's 1:50.28). Their highest individual placer was 200 freestyler Kiana Taheri, who was a close second to Homestead's Lindsay Loeffler (1:52.17-1:52.19) and also scored a runner-up finish in the 100 fly.

Winner in this latter race was Mountain View freshman Brooke Bishop, who splashed to a 56.17-57.57 win with a pr 55.54 in the prelims. Bishop also picked up another title when she touched first in the 100 back (56.50) with a pr 56.32 in the heats.

Two other doublers included Mitty senior Rosheen Mehdizadehi in the 50-100 frees (23.83-51.01) and Homestead senior Heidi Schmidt, who scored her wins in the 100 breast (1:02.85) and 200 IM (2:03.67). Schmidt's breaststroke win was her third-consecutive title in this race, only one behind the record four-striaght by Jenny Hau in the mid '80s.

In the 500 free it was Los Gatos soph Catherine Eastman touching first (4:57.11). In the two relays Presentation did not win it was Mitty taking top honors via its 1:38.51 in the 200 free and its 3:31.29 in the 400 free.

Mitty's Lindsey Knott, a freshman, had the fastest 50 free leadoff split in the 200 free relay (24.85) and teammate's Mehdizadehi's 52.03 was quickest in the longer relay.

Palo Alto's Dilulio was the top performer with his wins in the 500 free-200 IM, both of which will likely rank him among the Top 3 nationally. He also led off on the winning 200 medley-400 free relays, splitting a fast 24.55 for the 50 back leg on the former.

Bellarimne was led by senior sprinter Eric Lee, who captured the 50 for the second-consecutive year, winning in 20.93 to 20.98 last season. Second was 100 free champ Steve Lipinski of St. Francis (21.15), who won as a soph in '99 with his 21.17. Lipinski's winning 100 free time was 46.28 — slightly slower than his pr 45.97 that he won with as a junior in '00.

Valley Christian's Gary Cobb took top honors in the 200 free (1:42.23) and Los Gatos senior Bobby Crowder made it three-consecutive wins in the 100 back with his 51.47-52.30 edging of Palo Alto's Peter Davis. Crowder was runner-up in the 200 IM (1:52.83) and Davis, just a 10th-grader, won the 100 fly in 50.09.

The 100 breast went to St. Ignatious senior Brett Simon in 59.43 to Menlo's Adam Valen's 59.66.

On the relay front, Palo Alto — as mentioned earlier — won the 200 medley (1:35.42) and 400 free (3:07.19 to St. Ignatius' 3:09.83), with St. I taking the 200 free (1:36.56 to Bellarmine's 1:39.93).

We've always maintained that for at least the last half of the last century, swimmers from the Golden State in general — and Southern California in particular — were by far and away the best in the world, starting as age groupers, moving through the prep ranks and onto the national-international scene.
But the CCS region in the heart of Silicon Valley has had a rich history of its own for the last 35-plus years, starting with the very first Championship in 1966 — when a young Santa Clara Panther sophomore coached by a certain Mr. Haines made his first waves by winning the 200 IM (1:59.5) and 100 fly (51.9). As a junior the next season this youngster won both events again and set a national record in the 100 fly (49.1) that would last more than a decade. As a senior he set the national record in the 200 free (1:40.5).

Then he went to Indiana University and, under the guidance of Doc Counsilman, blossomed into one of the greatest NCAA swimmers in history with a fistful of titles and records. His career culminated in '72 with seven golds (and seven world records!) at the Munich Olympics. Oh, his name was Spitz.

But he wasn't the only Santa Claran to excel. There's Olympic silver medalist (400 free at Mexico City in '68); Ralph Hutton, who was actually a Canadian, who won the 200-400 frees in '66 (they didn't go to the 500 free until later); the Bottom brothers (Joe, Mike and Dave) who starred at USC and Stanford; breast-strokers Brian Job and Tom Bruce plus innunerable others who played leading roles in major collegiate programs across the country (including a certain Mr. Schollander too, although technically he was from Portland, OR).

Joe won a silver in the 100 fly at Montreal, broke Spitz's wr in the 100 fly the next year (USA-GDR Dual in East Berlin) and likely would have medaled at Moscow had it not been for the U.S. boycott. Dave was a stellar performer at Stanford, becoming a multi Pac-10/NCAA champ in the 100 back-fly. Mike, a 1980 Olympian, has made his mark as a coach, guiding Anthony Ervin and Gary Hall to gold in the 50 free at Sydney last September. Before that he was a key aide to David Marsh at Auburn and Mark Schubert at his alma mater, USC.

Bellarmine has many distinguished alums who became great swimmers but the grad who stands out most is Pablo Morales, stilll holder of the state record in the 100 fly (48.06 from the 1983 Championships). He swam for Stanford upon graduation, set many American-collegiate records and become the all-time leading Cardinal for NCAA titles won (nine). He also won Olympic silver and golds at Los Angeles in '84 but missed making the plane to Seoul in '88 and retired to attend law school — only to get the itch for "one last shot" prior to Barcelona.

Good thing, too, as he won the 100 fly gold there and added a second on the medley relay.

Then there's the young lady from Saratoga High who won the CCS 100 free four years' running in the mid-'80s and who, at the Los Angeles Olympics, was a triple champ-gold medalist before going on to great success att the University of Texas — "little" Carrie Steinseifer.

And the most valuable swimmer at this year's women's NCAAs is a Californian who swims for Cal Berkeley and trains a bit further north for the Terrapins' Swim CLub — Natalie Coughlin. She swam as a prepster for Carondolet High which is in the next section up, i.e., CIF North Coast, and which will hold its championship this weekend at Campolindo High.

Campolindo has a heritage of its own, producing future USC sprinter-IMer Chris Cavanaugh, who was an NCAA champ for Trojan coach Peter Daland; and a certain Mr. Biondi, whose feats need no elaboration.

— Bill Bell
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