By Keith Peters
Palo Alto Online Sports
The Palo Alto and Gunn girls staged another stirring battle while the Palo Alto boys atoned for last season's stumble from the top. All in all, the 2011 SCVAL De Anza Division swimming and diving championships turned out well for the local teams on Friday at Saratoga High.
The Paly girls won their ninth straight league title with 585 points with Gunn second with 442. Both teams set a handful of records and produced quality times that will only go lower once the top athletes shave and taper for the Central Coast Section championships on May 21.
The Paly boys, upended in last season's league finals, made up for that by scoring 434 points to hold off defending champ Monta Vista (366) and win their sixth division crown in coach Danny Dye's seven years at the school.
"It's been a fun week and a great day," Dye said, "and I'm real proud of my teams.
"The girls, I wasn't as concerned. Gunn is a good team and swam a great meet. Mark (Hernandez) always gets them ready. But, the (Paly) girls were just ready. As for the boys, I had no idea what to expect. But, with the two new freshmen (Andrew Liang and Willie Lee), the team really came together."
While Dye and his assistant coaches earned a ritual dunking after the meet, Friday's title sweep was just another big step toward the section finals in two weeks. That's when things get really exciting when times drop like leaves on a windy day.
Friday's finals, however, produced some great times nonetheless. The best effort came, appropriately enough, from Saratoga senior Adam Hinshaw. He used his home pool to break the oldest league record – a 1:40.50 time in the 200 free by the legendary Mark Spitz in 1968. Hinshaw swam 1:40.40 to erase the 43-year-old mark.
Palo Alto junior Jasmine Tosky also broke a meet record, but it wasn't quite as old. She clocked a sizzling 1:45.98 to win the girls' 200 free and lower her 1:47.86 time from 2010. It was Tosky's second-fastest time ever in the event and it earned her automatic All-American status. She also won the 500 free easily in 4:46.18, fastest time in the CCS this season. More importantly, Tosky anchored two trailing relays to victory.
The 200 free relay squad was trailing until Tosky hit the water and overhauled Gunn's Casey Lincoln with a sizzling 22.83 anchor as Paly won in 1:37.74. In the meet-ending 400 free relay, Gunn held an even bigger lead when Tosky began her stirring 48.83 anchor and passed Gunn's Christine Prior in the final yards. Paly clocked 3:32.84 for first and Gunn went 3:33.65 for second, both extremely fast times.
Gunn junior Rachael Acker was on both relays, but made up for those defeats with a pair of school records. While finishing second to Tosky in the 200 free, Acker went 1:51.00 to break Jane Abraham's 1:51.71 mark from 1979. In the 100 free, Acker held off teammate Julia Ama and broke her school mark of 50.66 with an automatic All-American time of 50.47. Ama won the 50 free in 23.50.
Gunn also got a victory from senior Emily Watkins in the 100 breaststroke, her non-taper personal best of 1:06.85 just missing the school record.
"Our girls did well, and we can still clean up a number of things," said Gunn coach Mark Hernandez. "We're ready to do even better at CCS."
Palo Alto also had its share of winners. In addition to Tosky, junior Margaret Wenzlau took the 100 fly in 57.32 with freshman Jayna Wittenbrink second in 58.69 and sophomore Molly Zebker third (58.85). Senior Sarah Liang won the 200 IM with a season best of 2:07.82 and senior Sabrina Lee cruised to a 57.54 win in the 100 back in addition to helping the Vikings sweep all three relays. Wenzlau, Tosky and Liang also did double-duty on the winning relays.
Paly senior Grace Greenwood won the 1-meter diving earlier in the week.
In the boys' meet, Paly junior Byron Sanborn won the 200 IM with a personal best and came from behind to take the 100 breast to help propel the Vikings.
Sanborn won the 200 IM in 1:53.05, improving upon his No. 3 time in school history, after helping the Vikings take second in the opening 200 medley relay (1:37.39, No. 4 in school history). He later won a thrilling battle with Lynbrook's AJ Zavala in the breaststroke, trailing the entire race before finally taking the lead in the last 10 yards to win in 58.39 with Zavala second in 58.44. Sanborn clocked a sizzling 46.62 anchor leg on the second-place 400 free relay team that clocked a season-best 3:12.95, losing by just .34 seconds.
Paly freshman William Lee was a big winner in the 100 back in a personal best of 52.23, winning by three seconds. That ranks him No. 2 in school history. Fellow freshman Andrew Liang moved out of the 50 and 100 freestyles in into the 200 free and 500 free where he placed second and third, respectively, with excellent times. Sophomore Cole Plambeck won the diving earlier in the week.
Gunn senior Ben Hendricks set a personal best by breaking 50.00 in the 100 for the first time while taking fifth in 49.33 while junior Gavin Kerr broke 5:00 in the 500 free for the first time with a fourth-place finish of 4:57.38. Gunn junior Will Thorson took third in the 100 fly in a CCS time of 54.56.
In addition to all the winners and top placers, both Paly and Gunn excelled thanks to countless swimmers who picked up important points not only in the finals, but the consolation finals as well.
Other key Paly swimmers included Laura Cui,DJ Fotsch, Kim Hallsted, Rachelle Holmgren, Eren Kiris, Corso Rosati, Arseny Kotov, Paige Devine, Jennifer Chang, Rollin Lau, Megan Okada, Madeline Berge, Charles Zhang and Alex Francis. For Gunn, Fiona Hon, Gabrielle Bethke, Aaron McGill, Tommy Tai, Cody Einfalt, Krystal Feri, Sarah Hessen-Schmidt, Jarrod Mock and Maggie McKenna were among the many others who contributed points to a successful meet.