RIVERSIDE — Throwing a disappointing start to the day to the wayside, Marco Flores and the Flintridge Prep boys’ swimming team ended Thursday night with the CIF success they were striving to accomplish.
Flores won the first CIF swimming title for Flintridge Prep since 1983, when he swam to victory in the 100-yard butterfly in 51.37 seconds before teaming up with fellow seniors Carlo Sivilotti and Ethan Vandeventer and junior Gary Lee to win the school’s first-ever relay title in the 200 freestyle relay in 1:27.69 at the CIF Southern Section Division III swimming championships at Riverside City College.
“Just the pride and the happiness to bring a CIF title to my school,” said Flores of his emotions. “It’s hard to describe.”
The victories propelled the Rebels to a third-place finish with 207 points, with JW North taking first with 271 and Laguna Beach in second with 255.5.
“We definitely made a big move this year,” said Rebels Coach Ingrid Herskind, whose team improved greatly on its seventh-place finish in 2013. “We made the goal first of top five and then as the year went on, we said top three.
“We knew after last year that these boys had something remarkable going.”
The day had a bitter beginning for the Rebels, as the top-seeded quartet of freshman Andreas Langen, junior Kevin Park, Flores and Sivilotti took second in the 200 medley relay, finishing in 1:36.78 to first-place Laguna Beach’s 1:36.30. But the Rebels were able to shake it off and rebound with a successful day.
“We wanted to win right off the bat, but the good thing about us is we didn’t let it slow us down,” Flores said. “To be able to swim fast, you have to be able to let things go.”
Flores rebounded for gold his next time in the pool, winning the 100 fly in 51.37, just in front of Mary Star of the Sea’s Kevin Fink (51.54).
“Honestly, that swim hurt so much,” said Flores, who became the fourth Rebels’ boys’ swimmer to win a CIF title and the first since 1980. “I attacked the first 50 so hard.
“I did enough to win, which is obviously what I wanted.”
Flores also took third in the 100 breaststroke in 1:00.35.
“Two golds, one silver, one bronze, not bad at all,” Flores said.
With Vandeventer, an All-Area and All-CIF water polo player, swimming the third leg, Prep began its comeback in the 200 freestyle relay midway through, with Sivilotti swimming anchor and bringing home the win.
“It’s redemption for sure,” said Sivilotti, who was likewise disappointed after a sixth-place finish (21.90) in the 50 free in which he had been seeded first.
Thrilling as the race was — Prep defeated Riverside Poly 1:27.69 to 1:28.19 — it was also the top highlight for Flores.
“Winning as a team is way better than winning by yourself,” Flores said. “It just means so much more.”
Added Vandeventer: “It means a lot win with these guys. It’s a privilege to swim with these guys.”
Langen won the consolation final of the 100 backstroke in 54.93, which would’ve put him at eighth in the championship heat, and won the consolation 500 free in 4:51.56, which would have put him at fifth in the championship heat.
“It was nice to see him turn around and have such a great day today,” Herskind said.
Junior Diego Delgado took second in the 200 free consolation in 1:49.60.
The boys concluded their day with Langen, Vandeventer, Lee and Sivilotti finishing fourth in the 400 free relay in 3:15.40.
On the girls’ side, senior Jennifer Langen bid adieu to Prep with a fourth-place finish in the 200 free and a seventh-place mark in the 100 free.
Langen’s efforts and junior diver Madi Witt’s second-place finish in diving on Tuesday led the Rebels to a 12th-place finish with 104 points. The meet was won in dominating fashion by Crean Lutheran’s 409-point effort.
Langen clocked 1:57.19 in the 200 free, which was won by Downey Calvary Chapel’s Rosalee Santa Ana (1:52.38). Langen swam to seventh in the 100 in 54.10.
“I can’t say that I’m disappointed,” Langen said. “This was a really, really fun meet.”
Langen, freshman Lena Pawlek, junior Lauren Au and sophomore Kim Cheng opened the day in the 200 medley relay, finishing in 2:00.11 for sixth-place in the consolation final. Pawlek also took third in the consolation 500 in 5:23.01.
Follow Grant Gordon on Twitter: @TCNGrantGordon.