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CHS girls swimming wins, boys trail Bonita; complete roundup

Whoever coined the phrase “friendly competition” must have been watching a Claremont High School swim meet.

The athletes were outgoing, polite and honestly seemed to be enjoying themselves. There was no verbal jeering of the opposition—rather they warmly congratulated the winners regardless of the team. Of course, the same friendly behavior was true of members of the other team, even if they were the dreaded Bonita Bearcats.

But all niceties aside, once the swimmers were in the pool, they were there to win, as Claremont hosted Bonita in a very competitive Palomares League meet on Tuesday. The results were split with the girls winning, varsity 95-74 and JV 77-75, but the boys losing, varsity 67-90 and JV 59-92.

Claremont swimming has been growing, according to Coach Nate Harding, with 87 swimmers this year compared with 65 in 2018. The team is also getting better, and he hopes the girls will be second in Palomares league when the regular season wraps up next month.

One rising star, freshman Mercer Weis, won the 100 backstroke and the 200 individual medley by several yards. He also gave a powerful assist, swimming in the third spot, that helped Claremont get a come-from-behind victory in the 400 freestyle relay.

The final leg of that race was swum by senior Toby Jackson, who ran down the Bonita swimmer, reaching the wall a fraction of a second ahead. Of course, friendly congratulations ensued.

Jackson and his sister senior Sophie won every race they entered on Tuesday, although Sophie only swam the 100 butterfly because of a strained shoulder—more on that later. Toby won the 100 butterfly and 100 freestyle.

Junior Natalya Strash, whose sister Katrina was a champion swimmer a couple of years back, won the 500 freestyle and the 100 butterfly as well as a leg of the 400 freestyle relay. With Strash on the 400 relay team were sophomore Sydney Struve, senior Mary Margrave and senior Aurora Sheridan.

Multi-sport athlete Sheridan will be attending Pomona College in the fall to play water polo.

Ayala looks strong all across the board and on all levels, specifically their girls varsity team is better than last year. Glendora also has a strong team but Coach Harding still likes the Pack’s prospects.

“If our girls varsity team does everything as planned, we should place second, which is the highest we have placed in Palomares League,” he said. “Last year we placed third.”

All of the work during the regular season forms the building blocks for the postseason run, which begins with league prelims on April 23 at Mt. Sac. Sophie Jackson’s injury is somewhat of a concern as the CIF tournament looms, so she plans to sit out the next week.

“She swims not only high school but on a competitive club swim team and injuries are just a part of athletics,” Coach Harding said. “We are just trying to do our best to rest her right now so she can continue and finish out her senior year. Our main concern is that she is healthy.”

Coach Harding predicts that Claremont will do well in the league finals in all of the girls varsity relays, in particular the 200 freestyle relay. In addition, he says both Toby and Sophie Jackson should place first in all of their events.

One challenge for Claremont is the large field of seniors, but Coach Harding is optimistic there too.

“Boys varsity has some young talent coming in and helping out right away. Mercer Weis, Liam Worsham and Zachary Turner, all three freshman, contribute pretty significantly to the team,” he said. “I am confident in the freshman group on our girls and boys teams. It will be a bit smaller next year, so if you want to call it a rebuilding year, I guess that is what it is called.”

Part of the good-natured competition may be because of the environment Coach Harding fosters at CHS.

“I am blessed to coach such studious kids. Ninety-nine percent of our kids are going to pretty prestigious colleges and they are involved in countless organizations on campus, so I try to create a haven where they can come and let loose and not have to be stressed out even more.”

 

Girls water polo

Senior Helena Sandhagen was named the Palomares League girls water polo 2019 MVP during a recent awards ceremony. Sandhagen was also named to the all CIF Southern Section First Team for Division 3 and the Claremont High School varsity team MVP. She will be attending Cal State Northridge in the fall and will be part of the university’s Division 1 water polo team.

It was the second year in a row a row a Claremont player was named the Palomares League MVP.

Junior Maddie Waasdorp was named to the all CIF Southern Section Division 3 second team. Waasdorp, senior Megan DePrez, senior Abby Torry and sophomore Adrianna Wong were all named to the Palomares League First Team.

Junior Tamra Holstrom and senior Vanessa Gardia were named to the Palomares League Second Team and sophomore Maddie Romero was named to the Palomares League Third Team.

Claremont girls water polo earned a Palomares League title with a perfect, 10-0 record in league play.

Boys volleyball

Claremont lost a very competitive league match, 3-2 to rival Damien on Tuesday at CHS. The Spartans won the first two sets, 24-21 and 25-19, but the Pack came back winning the next two, 25-15 and 25-19. In the tiebreaker Damien outlasted Claremont 17-15 for the win. It’s always tough to lose but way to fight until the end, Claremont.

The boys are now 2-2 in Hacienda League play and had a home league match against Diamond Ranch after press time on Thursday.

Softball

Claremont lost a conference game against Bonita, 8-3, on Wednesday in La Verne but had a win last Friday, 10-7, at Glendora.

Against the Tartans sophomore Isabella Rivera had two hits, including a home run and four RBIs. Madyson Clark had two hits, including a double, two RBIs and a run. Sydney Diaz, Alexis Jimenez and Mikaela Huizar each had one hit and one RBI.

The Pack is now 2-5 in Palomares League, 6-12 overall.

Baseball

On Wednesday, Claremont’s varsity baseball team defeated Colony, 7-0, in the third game of the Don Lugo Spring Break Tournament at Bonita High School.

Senior Gilbert Velasquez pitched a seven inning, one hit game earning the win with nine strikeouts and one walk. Josh Kennedy, Jacob Klinovsky, Marc Gonzalez, Steven Mara and Adam Aguirre each had one hit in the total team effort. Kody Johnson and Mara scored two runs while Kennedy and Gonzalez each had two RBIs.

Claremont lost the first two Don Lugo tournament games, 5-4, to Lincoln, and 5-1 to Don Lugo.

Claremont has an overall record of 5-15, and 0-6 in league.

—Steven Felschundneff

steven@claremont-courier.com