Santa Clarita Sectionals Wrap Up After Storms Clear

Photo Courtesy: City of Santa Clarita

The Speedo Sectionals meet in Santa Clarita fell victim to unfortunate storms on Saturday, leading Saturday’s timed finals to be postponed due to the increment weather.

Luckily for everyone involved local weather on the meet’s final day turned out to be much less turbulent and meet organizers were able to schedule all of Saturday’s previously cancelled events, as well as Sunday’s events, into timed finals to avoid further event imbalances.

To recap, the 200 backstroke, 400 freestyle, 100 breaststroke, 100 butterfly, and 800 freestyle relay were scheduled to be swum on Saturday.

Sunday’s originially planned events were the 200 individudal medley, women’s 800 freestyle, 50 freestyle, men’s 1500 freestyle, and the 400 medley relay.

The women’s 200 backstroke was the only event in either day in which some swimmers were able to swim prelims and finals before storms interrupted the meet. The rest of the events were only swum once, as timed finals.

Saturday Individual Events Timed Finals

Mckenna Garfein representing San Diego State claimed the top time in the women’s 200 backstroke with a 2:20.99. Julia Toronczak (unattached, 2:21.85) improved from thirteenth seed to finish second, with Team Rebel Aquatics’s Jessica Wong (2:22.67) just behind her for third.

After cracking America’s top 10 this season in the 100 meter backstroke during Friday’s prelims (54.68), Brock Bonetti from Roadrunner Aquatics won the 200 backstroke by nearly four seconds in an Olympic Trial qualifying time of 2:02.38. San Clemente’s Joshua Swart secured second with a 2:06.30 followed closely by PASA’s Garret Chin (2:06.58).

La Mirada’s Taylor Ault defended her top seed in the women’s 400 freestyle with a 4:22.05. Michaela Merlihan of Team Bruin was the only swimmer close to her with a 4:23.90. Ault’s teammate Kathleen Sulkevich(4:28.30) led the rest of the field for third place.

In the men’s race, it looked like young Hojoon Lee of Rapids and Michal Zyla of Terrapins would have a rematch from the 200 freestyle, where Lee got the upper hand. Those two were the only swimmers seeded below 4:00, both at 3:57’s. However, Zyla did not compete on the meet’s last day. Relatively unapposed, Lee ended up taking the 400 freestyle in 3:58.15 by exactly three seconds. Daniel O’Connor from Mission Viejo finished second (4:01.15) with Fallbrook’s Robert Guerra (4:03.31) in third.

The top three finishers in the women’s 100 breaststroke were all faster than the Olympic Trials standard. Clovis’s Danielle Hermann (1:10.54) edged Canyons’s Nikol Popov (1:10.58) for the win. Halle Morris (1:11.24) of Marin Pirates joined them in the top three.

Peter Kropp from the host team Canyons won a rematch with Boris Kulizhnikov (unattached) in the men’s 100 breaststroke, after Kulizhnikov out-raced him in the 200 breaststroke earlier in the week. Kropp’s 1:02.31 was more than a second ahead of Kulizhnikov’s 1:03.34. Third place belonged to Nick Korth swimming unattached with a 1:03.76.

Brea’s Kenisha Liu continued her busy schedule with a win in the women’s 100 butterfly. Her 1:01.24 edged Royal Swim Team’s Amy Okada (1:01.43) with Covina’s Catherine Sanchez (1:01.82) also swimming under the US Open standard for third place.

Tule Nation’s Kyle Grissom, who will join USC’s roster in the fall, secured the win in the men’s 100 butterfly with a new personal best and US Open standard of 55.07. Kevin Mendoza from UC Santa Barbara was just behind him for second (55.31) with Joshua Swart (55.54) rounding out top three.

Sunday Individual Events Timed Finals

Kenisha Liu continued her winning ways in the women’s 200 individual medley. Her Olympic Trials-qualifying 2:18.61 was a personal best time by nearly three seconds and good enough for the win ahead of Nikol Popov (2:20.29). Top seeded Mikayla Ranslem of Canyons clinched third place with a 2:21.55.

Garret Chin mustered up the win in the men’s 200 individual medley, with the only US Open standard in the field and a personal best in 2:06.58. Gabriel Bolender of UCSB secured second (2:07.29) followed by another strong showing by Boris Kulizhnikov in 2:07.36 for his third top-three finish.

Taylor Ault supplemented her 400 freestyle victory with another win in the women’s 800 freestyle. Her 8:54.03 was chased by Blue Fins’ Riley Spitser, who was just behind in 8:54.60. Caroline Lepesant led the rest of the field with her third place 9:05.40.

Abbey Weitzeil recorded the United States’ seventh fastest time this season in the 50 freestyle in her home pool. Her 25.10 is a new season best and dominated the rest of the field. Lauren Vosseler of UCSB took second in 26.47 and a tie for third place featured unattached Claire Fisch and BREA’s Ariel Wooden.

The men’s splash-n-dash featured two Olympic Trials cuts by De Anza Cupertino’s Shayne Fleming (23.17) and LA Swim Club’s Luke Burton (23.27) for the 1-2. UNLV standout Dillon Virva (23.54) edged out Canyons’ swimmer and Stanford commit Cole Cogswell (23.55) for top three.

Robert Griffith of Circle City Aquatics posted the only sub-sixteen minute swim in the men’s 1500. Robert Guerra (16:16.81) upgraded his 400 free third-place finish for a second place in the mile. Fifteen year old Michael Lee representing La Mirada Armada was just behind for third in 16:17.37.

That all about wraps up a dramatic weekend of racing in Southern California, with standout performances by US National Team member Abbey Weitzeil and several high-performance racing schedules by many more young athletes.

2015 Santa Clarita Speedo Sectionals, Day Four – Results

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