Foothill League coaches agree: There doesn’t appear to be a dominant team in boys swim.
Valencia High has depth. But the Vikings are young after graduating standouts like Johnny Ellery and Kevin Dai.
Hart has standouts like Ryan Brimer and Adam Osowski. But the Indians’ roster is the smallest it’s ever been.
Saugus has a strong core and the league’s most talented swimmer in Tanner Olson. But the Centurions likely won’t have Olson for every dual meet, and the team finished a disappointing third place at Friday’s SCV Relays.
With Foothill League dual meets starting this week, here’s a look at each league team in the order they finished at last year’s finals:
The Indians returned to the top last season after spending two seasons in second place behind Valencia.
Hart’s aim at a 20th title in the last 22 years starts with Osowski and Brimer.
Osowski is the league’s reigning 200- and 500-yard freestyle champ, while Brimer finished second behind Dai in the 100 free at league finals.
Brimer is also solid in the backstroke.
Hart’s other key swimmers include Emilio Santoyo, Cade Klement and Garret Alcantara. Ryan Sevidal, the team’s only freshman, Dawson Waage and Max Brown provide depth.
Sevidal swims the backstroke, individual medley and freestyle.
The Vikings are young. But Friday’s SCV Relays might have said something about their growth rate.
“I was really proud of them today,” said Valencia coach Kathy Rosenast after Valencia took second behind Hart. “I had no idea they were going to … they just rocked.”
Seniors Brandon Hwang (free, back, breast) and William Chung (breast, fly, IM) make up for some of the experience and talent the team lost when Dai and Ellery graduated.
Otherwise the team will rely on up-and-comers like sophomores Dylan Parente, a sprinter, and Joshua Lee, a backstroker, both of whom are entering their second varsity season.
While likely outside of the Foothill League title conversation, the Cats can make their case for CIF berths.
Rijker Hutson, a sprint freestyler, and Cade Brower, a distance freestyler and breaststroker, may both qualify for CIF, first-year coach Jeremy Anderson believes.
West Ranch’s other top returners include Brandon Yu, Tommy Weber, Ian Werner and Rory Mita.
Freshman Charlie Morici, the younger brother of West Ranch girls standout Sophia Morici, is a newcomer to watch, Anderson said.
Charlie Morici swims the 200 and 500 free, along with the 100 fly.
West Ranch finished fourth at SCV Relays, close behind second-place Valencia and third-place Saugus.
Neale believes the Centurions could win the league title. Saugus, though, will have to rebound from a slightly disappointing SCV Relays. The Cents scored 56 points, 17 back of first-place Hart.
“I think today was a little humbling. I think the depth across the board (is awe-inspiring),” said Saugus co-head coach Jim Klipfel.
Still, there’s a lot to be excited about at Saugus.
The Centurions return Justin Morsch, Tim Lim and Olson from last year’s CIF final qualifying 400 free and 200 medley relays (they finished sixth and fifth, respectively).
It’s unclear exactly how many Foothill League meets Olson — a Texas A&M-bound senior who could break the CIF record in the 100 breaststroke this season — will compete in, but he’s always welcome, Klipfel said.
“We have welcomed him into our program on a basis of whatever is best for Tanner,” Klipfel said. “Tanner has a long career with his club program, and we don’t want to interfere with that. We do regularly remind him that you get one senior year, and one of our team goals is that the kids make footprints and they make relationships. We are cheering for him whether he’s here or not.”
Canyon features talented backstroker Kevin Childs — who finished second in the event at league finals last season — and Rowdy Feather, both of whom could make CIF, according to first-year coach Darren Stieff.
The Cowboys also return Mason Eddy (IM, fly, free) and Jaime Canady (free and breaststroke), both of whom are senior captains.
George Monday swims the IM and backstroke, while Jordan Krestul swims the IM and 200 free. Both swimmers moved up from junior varsity this season.
“The team has a great attitude,” Stieff said. “They work hard, so it’s a pleasure to coach them.”
First-year coach Whitney Cox is determined but realistic.
“We’re just really looking to break times,” she said. “We probably won’t qualify for CIF. I want them to do well for themselves. I want them to focus more on improving their times and relays than on wins or losses.”
The Grizzlies varsity roster features 14 swimmers, including seniors James Lemons, a breaststroker and individual medley swimmer, and Nathan Shapiro, a backstroker.
Cox knows Golden Valley will need to get more kids into the program to be successful, and she’s encouraged by the 33 freshmen-to-be who have indicated interest in joining the team.
Cox, a former swimmer at Saugus High, served as a Grizzlies assistant for one season before taking over as head coach.