The final 25 yards of the day’s final race decided the Foothill League boys swim title and served as a snapshot of Thursday’s meet at a packed-out Santa Clarita Aquatic Center.
It was Hart finishing one spot ahead of Valencia, and Tanner Olson pulling away from the field.
Olson, who’d already broken two all-time Foothill League records earlier in the day, anchored Saugus’ winning 400-yard freestyle relay, with Hart finishing second and Valencia, third.
As a result, the Indians and Vikings tied for first place at the meet, both with 428 points, but Hart secured its second straight Foothill League title because it won the team’s dual meet earlier in the year.
Hart finished 6-0 in Foothill League competition. Valencia was 5-1.
The Valencia girls beat second-place Hart, 513-468, to secure a 6-0 record and its third Foothill League title in the last four years.
Viking Julia Wolf, who broke Saugus graduate Abbey Weitzeil’s meet record in the 50 free during Tuesday’s prelims, topped her own mark Thursday, swimming it in 22.53 seconds.
“Breaking the record from an Olympian, especially with the name Abbey Weitzeil, it’s crazy to think that it actually happened,” said Wolf, who was named the Girls Swimmer of the Meet after she also won the 100 free.
The Vikings won six individual events and two relays.
Valencia’s Nikol Popov doubled in the 200 individual medley and the 100 breaststroke, swimming the IM in a meet record of one minute, 59.70 seconds.
She won the 100 breast in 2014 and 2015 before taking 2016 off to train for the U.S. Olympic trials.
Popov, Wolf, Sonaly Wintermute and Kaila Wong teamed up to set meet records in the 200 medley (1:44.66) and 200 free (1:35.48) relays.
Wintermute also won the 200 free and the 100 butterfly.
For Hart, Brooke Helgeson won the 500 free, and Maxine Catig won the 100 back.
West Ranch’s foursome of Sophia Morici, Angelene Estiandan, Tali Skabelund and Reagan Nibarger won the girls 400 free relay in 3:31.34.
It was the first time since at least 2008 that Hart didn’t win the event.
The Wildcats finished third with 323 points on a day that belonged to the year-long favorite.
“It’s hard with everybody looking at you saying, ‘You’re for sure going to win,’” said Valencia coach Kathy Rosenast. “And I’m not one who ever counts that I’m going to win.”
Rosenast’s girls were in control from the beginning Thursday, though.
The Valencia boys nearly made it a sweep, but Hart was able to grab its first lead of the meet, 367-348, after the 100 backstroke.
Valencia surged back ahead by two points with a two-three-four finish in the 100 breaststroke.
But Hart’s Ryan Brimer, Dawson Waage, Emilio Santoyo and Adam Osowski swam to a second place finish in the 400 free relay to force the tie.
“We were really worried going into this (meet),” said Osowski, who earned co-Boys Swimmer of the Meet with Olson after setting meet records in the 200 and 500 freestyles. “We didn’t really think that we would come out on top.”
Then, at prelims, the Indians advanced one more swimmer into a championship final than the Vikings, and Hart’s confidence began to grow.
“It was a big surprise,” Osowski said, “but it was a good surprise.”
Valencia’s Woo Young Yi, Joshua Lee, Ronit Shrestha and Dylan Parente won the 200 medley relay, but the Vikings otherwise relied on depth to earn the tie and nearly take the title.
“Those boys, I can’t even tell you how they amazed me,” Rosenast said. “They came out of nowhere.”
Olson’s Centurions finished third in the boys meet (343 points), but he broke two Foothill League all-time records in dominating fashion.
He won the 200 IM in 1:47.71 seconds and the 100 breaststroke in 54-flat.
It was his fourth straight 100 breast title.
Saugus’ Zander Minano set a meet record in the 50 free (20.30).
Minano, Olson, Justin Morsch and Tim Lim won the 400 free relay in a meet record 3:03.58.
That group of four also broke the meet record in the 200 free relay with a 1:23.74.
Qualifying Foothill League athletes will compete at the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 prelims on May 11 at Riverside Aquatics Complex.
Boys varsity team scores
West Ranch 316
Golden Valley 98
Girls varsity team scores
West Ranch 323
Golden Valley 85
Note: Foothill League swim coaches voted Thursday to interpret the section on swimming championships in Foothill Sport By-Laws Article VII as “the school who wins the (league) meet receives one point. The other 5 schools receive no points,” according to an email from Foothill League secretary Dody Garcia.
The point is added to the school’s dual meet record. If two teams have the same record after the league meet, the tiebreaker for the league title is which team finished higher at league finals.
The coaches’ other option was that each competing school would “earn a point for each school it defeated (EX. 1st place receives 5 wins no losses, Second Place receives 4 wins 1 loss….etc.)”
The section on championships in Article VII reads, “The All-League Meet shall count the same value as the results of the dual meet season in determining the League championship.”