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By Justin Vigil-Zuniga 

Signal Sports Writer 

A handful of Santa Clarita Valley teams made some noise over the weekend at the CIF Southern Section Finals. 

Saugus was the only local team to have a first-place finisher and the Centurions had two in Division 2. 

Senior Riley Botton won the 50-yard freestyle with an impressive mark of 23.3 seconds. 

The University of Arizona commit also finished third in the 100-yard freestyle and will likely head to state in the 100 as well as the 50. 

Saugus junior Bella Fisco was the other CIF champion for the Centurions. Fisco won the girls 100-yard butterfly in 54.38 seconds. 

The pair swam in Saugus’ relays, helping the team place second in the 200-yard freestyle and 400-yard freestyle. 

Luke Bezanilla had two great runner-up finishes for Saugus in Division 3. 

Bezanilla finished second in both the 100-yard breaststroke and the 100-yard individual medley. 

Valencia senior Thomas Hadji had a strong outing for the Vikings in Division 1. The senior placed fourth in a tough 100-yard freestyle race with a 45.55-second finish. 

Joy Lee also swam well for the Vikings. The sophomore finished eighth in the girls 50-yard freestyle, but still qualified for state with her 23.67 second mark. 

“It is really amazing how well they did,” said Valencia head coach Kathy Rosenast. “I have been so happy with the team this year and their successes.” 

West Ranch had a COVID-19 wave hit the team hard, leaving some of the team’s fastest swimmers out for finals. 

Karina Hartounian was one Wildcat swimmer who was still able to hit the pool for West Ranch. 

“On the girls front Karina Hartounian finished seventh at finals in the 200 IM and tenth in the 100 back,” said Wildcats head coach Kearston Livingstone. “She is only a sophomore, so big things to come for her.” 

Michael Lee finished fifth in the 100-yard butterfly for the West Ranch boys with a time of 48.35 seconds. Teammate Jason Hawkins finished 12th in the 50-yard freestyle in 21.28 seconds. 

Over in Division 4, the Heritage League champs made some noise.  

Trinity Classical Academy junior Olivia Leathers hit a personal record of 1 minute and 3.78 seconds in the girls’ 100-yard butterfly and finished sixth. 

Olivia Leathers poses with her medals at the CIF Southern Section Championships. PHOTO COURTESY OF TRINITY CLASSICAL SWIM.

Leathers swam her best when it mattered and beat her previous PR by more than two seconds. 

The junior also helped the Knights to a sixth-place finish in the 200-yard freestyle relay.  

Olivia raced alongside teammates Maddie Hurst, Atena Serrano and Anna Leathers 

“What an amazing week in Trinity Swim history,” said Knights head coach Mike Leathers. “We sent the largest team in school history to compete with the best of the best in Southern California at the CIF Southern Sectional swim meet.” 

Trinity’s boys’ teams were led by freshman Thomas Rolls, who placed 15th in the 200-yard freestyle and 17th in the 100-yard breaststroke. Rolls raced with Noah McWilliams, Hugh Smith, Luke Rodriguez and Justus Fudge in both the 200-yard medley and 200-yard freestyle relays. 

Trinity’s Noah McWilliams, Thomas Rolls, Justus Fudge and Hugh Smith pose after their 200-yard medley relay at the CIF Southern Section Championships. PHOTO COURTESY OF TRINITY CLASSICAL SWIM.

Castaic also had a nice outing in the Division 4 relays. 

The Coyotes’ boys’ team of Nicolas Rainbird, Thomas Ellington, Climaco Yra and Ricardo Baldenegro finished second in the 200 freestyle relay. Castaic finished in one minute and 36.56 seconds, less than 0.4 seconds off from first place. 

Canyon’s Ike Harms won the Division 3 boys’ 100 freestyle in 45.26 seconds. 

Hart’s girls team was strong per usual. 

Freshman Aly Yokoyama finished the 200 individual medley in two minutes and 6.72 seconds. Yokoyama was the only other freshman in the race with St. Margarita’s Teagan O’Dell, who broke the Division 1 meet record with an absurd finish of one minute and 55.46 seconds. 

The 200 relay team of Caitilin Brown, Anna Brill, Colette Masino and Lily Dormans finished fifth in one minute and 37.27 seconds. The group will likely head to state finals with their mark being just 0.05 seconds off an automatic qualifying time. 

There are a lot of strong local upperclassmen heading to state. The qualifying swimmers will head to state finals starting on Tuesday. 

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