Valencia junior Julia Wolf helped break three meet records Friday at the annual Santa Clarita Valley Relays.
Standing beside the pool at the Santa Clarita Aquatic Center afterward, she was clear about two things: The Viking girls entered the day wanting to beat Hart. And she was thrilled to have standout Nikol Popov back.
“She’s happy to be back, and we’re obviously excited to have her,” Wolf said of Popov, who missed last season as she trained for Olympic trials but returned Friday to swim on two meet-record relays. “She’s a great girl and a great swimmer.”
Wolf helped secure meet records in the 6×50-yard freestyle, the 4×50 backstroke and the 4×50 medley relays, propelling Valencia to a first-place finish overall.
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Sonaly Wintermute was also on three record-breaking relays for the Vikings, who finished with 81 points. Reigning Foothill League champion Hart had 76, and West Ranch had 48.
“It was our first meet as a team, and we wanted to get in and have fun,” Wolf said. “Obviously, we wanted to beat Hart.”
On the boys side, defending league champion Hart won with 73 points. Valencia had 57. Saugus, a dark horse to win a Foothill title this season, came in third with 56 points.
The Valencia boys broke the 4×50 breaststroke record, with Joshua Lee, Brandon Hwang, Joseph Park and William Chung swimming it in 1 minute, 53.32 seconds.
The Hart boys broke the SCV Relays record in the 4×100 free relay (Jonathan Quick, Ryan Brimer, Dawson Waage and Adam Osowski, 3:09.57).
“This is a preview of the Foothill League,” said Hart coach Steve Neale. “This is what brings everyone together, the club swimmers, the high school swimmers. There is such a focused sense of purpose.”
The highlight of the meet might have come early, when Saugus’ Tanner Olson swam a 50.41 split in the 4×100 individual medley relay.
“I have never seen a high school kid swim that fast,” Neale said. “Even (Olympian and Hart grad) Anthony (Ervin) I think went 51 high in his prime (in high school).”
Neale’s Hart girls had a strong showing. The foursome of Dani Merlo, Grace Hill, Brooke Helgeson and Hope Hill won the 4×100 free relay in a meet-record 3:38.16.
Hart 73; Valencia 57; Saugus 56; West Ranch 54; Canyon 43; Golden Valley 12
Valencia 81; Hart 76; West Ranch 48; Saugus 42; Canyon 20; Golden Valley 18