While the annual Section Challenge swim meet had its largest field ever with 14 teams entered from three Northern California sections, it was more about individual performances than team efforts on Saturday at Palo Alto High.
Palo Alto junior Jasmine Tosky and Sacred Heart Prep freshman Ally Howe were the individual standouts among local swimmers as each won a pair of events and accounted for all three of the meet records set in the girls' competition.
Tosky helped get the meet off well for the Vikings as she anchored the opening 200 medley relay to victory in 1:47.67, just off the meet record of 1:47.35 set in 2008. Howe swam the third leg on the Gators' relay that finished fourth in 1:51.83.
Tosky returned shortly thereafter and won the 200 free in 1:49.73, breaking her own meet record of 1:50.12 from last season. Somewhat surprising, Tosky swam faster (1:48.23) during a dual-meet win over Gunn on Wednesday.
Howe was next up and raced to a meet and school record of 54.26 to win the 100 fly. She defeated defending champ and meet recordholder Marissa Neel of San Ramon Valley (55.54) in the process.
Once again it was Tosky's turn and she didn't disappoint while swimming a season best of 4:51.40 to win the 500 free. She just missed the meet record of 4:49.40 while cruising to a nearly five-second victory, while setting herself up for a repeat performance at the CCS Championships next month.
Howe finished off the individual efforts for the girls by winning the 100 back in 55.80, again breaking the meet record (58.21) and lowering her own school mark in the process. Howe's time would have earned her second place at the 2010 CCS finals.
Both Tosky and Howe had one more swim in them, legs in the 400 free relay. Tosky blistered a 49.25 anchor leg to bring Paly home in second place in a season best of 3:35.04. Howe went 51.41 on her second leg to help the Gators finished sixth in 3:41.76.
Palo Alto senior Grace Greenwood added the only other local victory in the girls' competition as she took the diving on Friday with 403.95 points. Emma Miller of Paly was third, Nadia Nee fourth and Serena Yee fifth as the Vikings scored 49 points.
"I was very proud of Gracie," said Paly coach Danny Dye. "She did a great job, added some new dives. She is just so talented and dedicated. I'm looking forward to seeing her compete at CCS."
Palo Alto went on to finish second in the team race, scoring 231 points but failing to defend its title as San Ramon Valley won with 254 points. Sacred Heart Prep finished sixth with 92.
"It was a tough meet," said Dye, who was missing defending 100 breast champ Sarah Liang. "It still would have been tough (with Liang) because San Ramon swam very well."
The Paly boys were missing standout Byron Sanborn but, again, the Vikings had no chance at the team title as NCS powerhouse Campolindo beat CCS powerhouse Bellarmine, 231-210.
"Still," Dye said, "fast times and good swimming. I think it was our best one yet."
Eight meet records were set by the boys. Sacred Heart Prep junior Tom Kremer saw his meet record of 51.33 in the 100 back erased by Sven Campbell of Campolindo (50.78). Kremer also was under his previous mark, but his season best of 51.03 was only good for second.
Kremer did come away with one victory, taking the 200 free in a season best of 1:41.85 in a loaded field as 16 swimmers broke 1:50.00. Despite Kremer's individual efforts, which included a 46.32 anchor leg to help the Gators finish sixth (3:17.11) in the 400 free, SHP took 11th out of 14 teams with 65 points.
The Paly boys, who were eighth last season, took seventh with 93 and was third among CCS teams while trailing Bellarmine and third-place Los Gatos (134).
Paly freshman Andrew Liang got his feet wet for the first time in CCS-like conditions and performed well with a pair of season bests. He was the No. 1 CCS finisher while taking second in the 50 free in 21.68 -- moving to No. 5 all-time at Paly while breaking his own freshman record.
Liang was fifth in the 100 free in 48.20, another Paly freshman record, while Campo's Campbell sped to a 46.15 meet record. Campbell is only a sophomore. Liang was the No. 2 CCS finisher, setting himself up for good CCS meet.
Paly sophomore Cole Plambeck added a second in diving with 430.45 points while Collin Pollard of Bellarmine won with 450.50. Paly's Alex Francis was fourth and teammate Jordan Zenger fifth.
Other local finalists included:
Paly's Margaret Wenzlau was fifth in the 100 fly (58.42) and seventh in the 200 IM (2:13.78); Paly's Jayna Wittenbrink was eighth in the 50 free (25.54); Paly's Molly Zebker was eighth in the 100 fly (59.61); Paly's Sabrina Lee was fourth in the 100 back with a personal best of 57.91 (the first five all broke the old meet record) in addition to taking seventh in the 100 free (53.54); Paly's Kim Hallsted was eighth in the 500 free (5:22.41); Paly's Laura Cui was fifth inthe 100 breast (1:08.28) and SHP's Selby Sturzenegger was seventh in 1:09.54.
Menlo School wrapped up a 2-2 finish in the annual Bishop Gorman Easter Classic in Las Vegas by beating Bishop Gorman's No. 2 team, 12-3, in a consolation-bracket contest on Saturday morning.
Junior Freddy Avis tossed a complete-game four-hitter for the Knights (15-4) while striking out six. Avis and senior Phil Anderson each had two hits and two RBI, with Avis having two doubles. Jake Bruml doubled and drove in a pair of runs for Menlo, which bounced back from Friday's 16-6 loss to Alta (Utah) that saw the Knights give up seven runs in the first and 14 hits plus 10 walks for the game.
Palo Alto kept tuning up for the postseason with a 10-9 nonleague victory over host Burlingame on Saturday morning. The Vikings (7-6) got three goals from Nina Kelty and two from Kristen Destefano while rallying from a 7-4 halftime deficit.