The Menlo-Atherton and Sacred Heart Prep swim teams headed into their respective league championship meets on Saturday with titles to defend. Four teams, four titles at stake.
When the hours of consolation and championship finals were concluded, three of the four squads were rewarded with successful title defenses.
The Sacred Heart Prep boys and girls, as expected, continued their domination of the West Bay Athletic League finals. The boys piled up 513 points to hold off Menlo School (374) once again while the SHP girls (474) made Castilleja (347) runner-up for a second straight year in Atherton.
At Woodside High on an on and off rainy day, the Menlo-Atherton girls followed up their undefeated dual-meet season by claiming the team title at the PAL Bay Division Championships by scoring 559 points to San Mateo's 302. The M-A boys followed up their second place to Carlmont during the dual-meet season by taking second to the Scots, 568.5 to 406.
Interestingly enough, there was one swimmer on the day who was connected to both meets. That was Menlo-Atherton sophomore Izzi Henig.
Last season, she won two individual events to help Castilleja to its runner-up finish in the WBAL finals. Henig transferred to M-A, sat out the waiting period and then joined the Bears late in the dual-meet season.
Like she did last year, Henig made a big splash Saturday as she won two individual events, swam on two winning relays and set two meet records and two school marks.
Henig first anchored the 200 medley relay team of Haley Arrington, Faith Dunn and Maddie Worden to victory in 1:48.53, swimming a sizzling 22.54 for her 50 free. She came back to win the 200 free in 1:49.57, breaking a meet record set in 2004 and M-A's record of 1:52.50 by Maddie Pont in 2014.
Henig added a second individual win in the 100 fly (56.28) and then led off the 400 free relay team with a meet record of 49.38 for her 100 free, breaking the previous mark of 51.34 by M-A's Brooke Stenstrom in 2013. Henig's time also lowered Stenstrom's school mark of 51.32.
M-A won the final relay in 3:32.40 with the team of Sophie Murff, Nicole Dundas and Kate Denend wrapping things up.
Murff added a victory in the 50 free (23.87) with Denend second in 24.91. Denend was also second in the 100 free (54.70) and swam a leg on the winning 200 free relay (1:40.20) with Worden, Arrington and Murff.
Dundas contributed a third in the 200 IM (2:12.58) with Arrington, a freshman, adding a third in the 100 back (59.80).
"The girls were terrific at PALs," said M-A coach Jane Worden. "Izzi definitely adds a new dimension to our team and not just with her speed; she is a great teammate and the girls adore her. With her and our other CCS qualifiers (Halyey Arrington, Nicole Dundas, Faith Dunn, Kate Denend, Sophie Murff, Claire Haldeman, Sofia Bergman, Maddie Worden and Mary Lane and divers Mia Paulsen and Anna Leake), we should do well at CCS. We're very excited."
In the boys' meet, everything ran pretty close to expected as Carlmont used its considerable depth to unseat Menlo-Atherton as league champ.
The Bears were led by senior Vincent Busque, who won the 200 free (1:42.92) and 500 free (4:40.81). He also led off the second-place 200 free relay (1:30.38) in 22.24 and led off the third-place 400 free relay (3:21.29) with a 47.85 leg, faster than the winning time (48.26) in the open 100 free.
"The boys did as well as they could against a very talented and deep Carlmont team," said Worden. "We'll have four boys at CCS swimming individual events: Vincent Busque, Nik Caryotakis, Max Ferenczy and Jak Tedesco.
And our relays will be aided by Alex Hakanson.
"Our JV teams were awesome at PALs too. The future looks good for our team!"
Woodside senior Karl Arvidsson set the only meet record for the boys, taking the 100 breast in 58.18. That broke a mark that had stood since 1985. He also won the 200 IM in 1:56.08 and finished as one of three double-winners. He helped the Wildcats finish third with 243 points.
Meanwhile, the SHP boys and girls won their seventh straight league meet titles.
"We haven't lost since joining the WBAL," said SHP coach Kevin Morris. "There are some very good swimmers on the other schools, but our depth makes us tough to beat for the rest of the league."
SHP senior Kayla Holman and sophomore Matte Snow were both double-winners for the Gators and swam on two winning relays to lead the way. Snow defended her league titles in the 50 (24.47) and 100 (53.06) freestyles.
Holman won the 200 IM (2:08.12) and 100 fly (58.40) with Snow taking the 50 free (24.47) and 100 free (53.06). Holman swam on the first-place 200 medley relay team (1:52.42) and 400 free relay squad that set a meet record of 3:34.88. Snow swam on the record-setting relay squad in addition to anchoring the 200 free relay to victory in 1:40.30.
Junior Kathryn Bower added points for SHP with a 5:06.88 win in the 500 free while Castilleja junior Natalie Tuck took the 100 breast title in 1:04.44.
Like the girl, the SHP boys used their depth to successfully defend. The Gators had only two winning events, Jackson Enright taking the 500 free in 4:46.08 with the Gators winning the 400 free relay in a season best of 3:18.53 with Enright adding a leg.
Enright qualified in the 500 in the most unusual way a day earlier. Since he wanted a CCS qualifying time in the 100 free (even though he won't swim that event at the section meet), Enright sprinted the first 100 and qualified for CCS with a 49.62. He then used the final 400 yards as a warmdown and wound up in Lane 1 for the finals.
"He swam great on Saturday, winning the event with a great time, and sort of snuck up on the competition in the middle of the pool," said Morris.
The Gators also had five swimmers qualify for CCS for the first time ever over the two days -- freshman Kyle Ballack (100 back), Andrew Churukian and fellow freshman Larsen Weigle in the 50 and 100 frees, sophomore Addie Duvall (50 and 100 free) and junior Emily Howard (100 back).
"Perhaps the most rewarding thing for me was the depth of our team," said Morris.
While the WBAL rules allow only four swimmers from one school to compete in the finals, the SHP boys actually had eight of the top 10 times in the 100 free with all eight being freshmen or sophomores.
In other races, Menlo junior Scott Little won the 100 free (49.03) and 50 free (22.06) with Priory sophomore Duncan Croll taking the 200 free in 1:54.61.
Next up for all the qualifying athletes will be the Central Coast Section trials (Friday, 2:30 p.m.) and finals (Saturday, 2:30 p.m.) at the George F. Haines International Swim Center in Santa Clara.
Diving finals will be held Friday for the boys and Saturday for the girls, both starting at 9 a.m.