The Palo Alto girls made the biggest local splash during the prelims of the second annual CIF State Swimming and Diving Championships on Friday at the Clovis Olympic Swim Complex at Clovis West High.
The 2016 Central Coast Section champion Vikings had the fastest 200 medley and 200 free relay teams during the day with junior Grace Zhao second in the 100 breast and fourth in the 50 free.
The 200 medley relay squad of sophomore Zoe Lusk, Zhao, senior Katie Francis and sophomore Claire Lin improved their own school record from the CCS finals last weekend by clocking an automatic All-American time of 1:43.09.
Zhao, Wang, Lusk and Lin won the 200 free relay in 1:34.42 as the Vikings put themselves in position to defend last year's state title in the event. Paly set the state championship (and school) record of 1:33.80 in 2015.
Zhao kept up her busy day by taking fourth in the 50-yard free in 23.31 and later finished second in the 100 breast in 1:01.68 to put herself in position to challenge for a state title on Saturday.
While the Paly girls look to improve upon their sixth-place finish in last year's finals, Menlo-Atherton sophomore Izzi Henig positioned herself in two individual events to claim perhaps state titles. Heing came in as the No. 1 seed in the 50 free and 100 free and finished second in both. She clocked a school record of 22.73 in the 50 free and tied for first in the 100 free in 50.04 with Kenisha Liu of Ayala.
Henig also anchored the Bears' 200 free relay team to 11th in 1:36.69 and 400 free relay squad to ninth in 3:30.40. The first relay included sophomore Sophie Murff, Maddie Worden and junior Kate Denend while the longer relay featured freshman Haley Arrington, Denend and Murff.
The Palo Alto boys, meanwhile, started off with a setback with CCS diving champ Reed Merritt was unable to compete due to illness. The Vikings bounced back with a seventh place in the 200 medley relay in 1:34.91. Junior Alex Liang then finished seventh in the 200 free in 1:39.58 and later splashed to victory in the 500 free in 4:26.81. Liang won both events last week at the CCS finals and had the top-seeded times coming into the state meet.
The Vikings were 19th in the 200 free relay (1:26.71), senior Andrew Cho was sixth in the 100 back (50.69) and Paly finished 10th in the 400 free relay (3:08.97) after finishing second at CCS in 3:04.46.
The Gunn boys, coming off their historic CCS team title and dethroning of 31-year champ Bellarmine, didn't have a similar performance as many of the team's qualifiers dropped individual events to concentration on the relays.
Gunn did qualify fifth in the 200 medley relay as the all-senior team of Daichi Matsuda, Trent Bosky, Brian Lei and Joao Ama clocked 1:34.77, just off the school record of 1:34.72 set in 2015. The Titans were ninth in the 200 free relay (1:25.92) and 27th in the 400 free relay (3:13.17) after clocking a school record of 3:04.44 to clinch the section crown.
Ama was 12th in the 50 free (21.11) and ninth in the 100 free (45.99) after finishing third in both at the CCS finals. Matsuda was 10th in the 100 fly (49.92) with Tosky 14th (50.32) with Matsuda taking 12th in the 200 IM in 1:53.26.
Elsewhere, Menlo-Atherton senior Vincent Busque was 13th in the 500 free in 4:33.67 and Woodside's Karl Arvidsson was second in the 100 breast in 55.28.
For the girls, Castilleja's Natalie Tuck was seventh in the 200 IM in a season best of 2:02.93 and Paly's Lin was 16h in the 50 free in 24.03.
Defending state champ Albert Gwo of Los Altos, who swims for Palo Alto Stanford Aquatics, was the No. 1 qualifier in the 50 free (20.14) and No. 2 in the 100 free in 44.87.
The Palo Alto girls hope to get their title-quest off to a good start on Saturday with senior diver Mimi Lin competing at 8:30 a.m. Lin won her second straight CCS title last Saturday and has the top score coming into the finals.
Menlo School took its first step toward defending its CIF/USTA NorCal crown with a 7-0 victory over Jesuit of Carmichael at Broadstone Racquet Club in Folsom on Friday.
The No. 3-seeded Knights set up a semifinal match against No. 2 Dougherty Valley of San Ramon on Saturday at 1 p.m. Unseeded Acalanes and top seed St. Ignatius will play in the other semifinal with the finals at 3 p.m.
Sophomores Sid Chari and Clark Safran picked up wins at the Nos. 1-2 spots while freshman Andrei Volgin and sophomore Bo Leschly won at Nos. 3-4 for Menlo.
Seniors Gabe Morgan and Alex Neumann won at No. 1 doubles; Mark Ball and Michael Quezada teamed for a win at No. 2 while Dylan Pace and David Quezeda wrapped up a win at No. 3.