Swimmers make a splash at Ben Hedberg Invitational


Photos by Phillip Brents Christian High School’s meet record-setting boys 200-yard freestyle relay team, from left, Lucas Colombo, Kai Damata, Sam Walker and Ian Mullen pose with coach Alli Williard during last Saturday’s Ben Hedberg Invitational

While established high school swim programs such as Eastlake, Granite Hills, Canyon Crest Academy, Del Norte, Cathedral Catholic, San Dieguito Academy and University City scored their share of points to float near the top of the team standings at last Saturday’s Ben Hedberg Invitational on the campus of Granite Hills High School, the Christian High Patriots managed to make a splash as well.
The Patriots finished 11th overall in the combined team scores — seventh among boys’ teams — while setting a new meet record in the boys 200-yard freestyle relay.
The foursome of senior Lucas Colombo, senior Kai Damata, junior Sam Walker and senior Ian Mullen timed 1:27.31 to eclipse the previous record of 1:28.46, set interestingly by Christian High School in 2019.
The new meet record also replaces the previous school record.
The Patriots weren’t finished making a name for themselves in last Saturday’s 20-team event.
Colombo earned recognition as co-MVP in the boys field after recording additional first-place finishes in the 200 freestyle (1:44.35) and 100 butterfly (51.24).
Walker finished third in the 500 freestyle in 4:51.09.
Ian Mullen and Walker combined with Garrett Carter and Peyton Mullen to place ninth overall in the meet-concluding 400 freestyle relay event in 3:37.22.
“Our program is definitely growing,” Christian coach Alli Williard said. “Success is following the same line of trajectory. This was a big one for us.
“Lucas and Ian currently have several school records. Hopefully they can set more school records this season.”
The boys’ names are becoming synonymous with success at the small private school tucked at the eastern end of El Cajon.
Colombo finished third in the 200 individual medley (1:55.71) and fifth in the 100 freestyle (46.30) at last year’s San Diego
Section Division II finals.
Mullen won the 100 breaststroke (58.33) and was third in the 50 freestyle (21.13) while Walker was third in the 500 freestyle (4:46.88).
The Patriots placed third in last year’s 200 freestyle relay finals (1:29.38) after posting a seventh-place finish (consolation heat winner) in the 200 medley relay (1:39.87).
Christian finished sixth as a team in the boys’ standings.
Eastern exposure
Granite Hills placed fourth among girls teams and fifth among boys teams. Other Grossmont Conference teams participating in last Saturday’s invitational included West Hills (14th in the girls meet, 17th in the boys meet) and Santana (11th in the boys meet, 15th in the girls meet).
The top performance turned in by Granite Hills girls team included a first-place finish in the 200-yard freestyle relay with sophomores Brooke McCoy and Delaney Fry, senior Erin Kluge and junior Izzy Cox combining for a time of 1:43.73.
Among individuals, senior Erin Kluge placed second in the 100 butterfly in 1:00.30 and third in the 100 backstroke (1:01.42) while junior Izzy Cox finished fourth in the 50 freestyle (25.71) and sixth
in the 100 freestyle (55.77). Junior Chloe Morgan was fifth in the girls 200 freestyle in 2:03.19 and eighth in the 500 freestyle in 5:30.32.
Other top 10 individual finishes included McCoy placing ninth in the 100 freestyle in 57.04 and Fry placing ninth in the 100 backstroke in 1:04.16.
The meet-opening 200 medley relay unit comprised of McCoy, Cox, Kluge and Fry finished fourth in 1:55.09 while the quartet of
Morgan, sophomore Carly Seiter, junior Korinne McCarty and sophomore Sophia Birkenbach finished ninth in the meet-concluding 400 freestyle relay in 4:04.04.
Top marks for the Eagles boys team were turned in by sophomore Braden Felio, who notched fourth-place finishes in the 200 freestyle (1:48.50) and 500 freestyle (4:54.46), while junior Aidan Keane finished fourth in the 100 backstroke (56.10) and eighth in the IM (2:09.19).
Granite Hills finished in seventh place in the 400 freestyle relay with senior Cavan Cox, Felio, junior Vaughan Clark and Keane timing 3:38.89 and finished in eighth place in the 200 medley relay with Keane, sophomore Teagan Pennings, Felio and Clark touching in 1:46.08.
Top performers for Santana included sophomore Brooke Amos in the girls butterfly (eighth in 1:02.89) and senior Darrel Yost in the boys 50 freestyle (10th in 23.60).
West Hills freshman Maggie Cline placed ninth in the girls 500 freestyle in 5:37.43.
The event, which featured more than 520 swimmers, was jampacked with talent with nine meet records being broken, including four by Eastlake (girls 200 medley relay in 1:51.72, girls breaststroke by senior Emily Lundgren in 1:03.60, 400 freestyle relay in 3:40.59 and boys 500 freestyle by senior Colby Hughes in 4:36.72).
Lundgren was a part of all three new meet records. She also timed under the previous meet record in the individual medley with a 2:07.37 while finishing runner-up to University City’s Hazle (who set a meet record in 2:05.10).
Lundgren and Hazle were named co-MVPs of the girls meet while Hughes shared the boys MVP honor with Colombo.
Hazle also won the girls 500 freestyle in 5:01.46 to post an individual double.
Other meet records came in the boys 200 medley relay (Canyon Crest Academy in 1:36.37), girls 100 backstroke (Del Norte junior Emmy Luu in 58.52) and boys 100 breaststroke (CCA’s Andrew Ko in 58.25).
Actually, three swimmers dipped under the previous meet record of 2:08.91in the girls IM with Poway’s Ashlyn Hernandez posting a time of 2:08.46. Hernandez also went under the previous meet record in placing runner-up to Lundgren in the 100 breaststroke (1:05.96).
Del Norte freshman Julien Rousseau timed 4:38.75 in the boys 500 freestyle to join Hughes in both dipping under the previous meet record in that event.
Top teams in the girls meet included University City (first with 281 points), Del Norte (second with 268.5 points) and Canyon Crest Academy (third with 244.5 points). Granite Hills placed fourth with 241.5 points while Eastlake was fifth with 230.5 points.
Canyon Crest Academy won the boys team title with 480 points, followed by Del Norte with 253 points in second place, Cathedral Catholic with 246 points in third place, Eastlake with 223 points in fourth place and San Dieguito Academy with 193 points in fifth place. Granite Hills was sixth with 149 points – one point ahead of seventh place Christian. Canyon Crest Academy had the highest combined score of 724.5 points, followed by Del Norte with 521.5 points and Eastlake with 453.3 points.
Events were conducted by heats and then sorted by times to produce a winner. There were 11vheats in the girls 50 and 100 freestyle events and 10 heats in the boys 50 and 100 freestyle events.
Both the girls 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle were water-logged with 95 entrants while the boys 50 freestyle had 83 entrants and the 100 freestyle had 84.
Granite Hills could cite tired limbs after competing in four meets during the week. The Eagles participated in the Mt. SAC High School Winterfest the previous weekend, then swam dual meets against Grossmont the following Tuesday and Rancho Bernardo on Friday.
Still, the competition was fierce.
“A lot of meet records were set,” Granite Hills coach Cathy Elgas said. “There were a lot of kids here who will be CIF champions.”