Swimming: Glendora’s Nicole Gautreau leads the way at Division 2 swim finals

Division 2 Swimming Finals photo gallery
By Keith Lair
– If the Riverside City College swimming pool had been open for practice Nicole Gautreau, her Glendora High School teammates and coaches all would have plunged in.
Going for a dunk is a tradition for winning a CIF-Southern Section team championship, but certainly not for an individual title.
After Gautreau scored a surprising victory in the 500-yard freestyle in the CIF-SS Division 2 finals on Saturday morning at Riverside, the poolside celebration came close to a swimathon, if the boys 500 free was not next to start.
“I honestly did not think I would win,” Gautreau said. “I wasn’t expecting this.”

The senior, who plans to swim at Mt. SAC next year, scored the Valley’s lone victory in the division. Until the final 200 yards, it did not look like that was going to happen, either.

“I was just trying to stay up with those girls in the middle,” she said. “I thought they would take off on me. When I saw I was still with them at the 200, I just figured, `Let’s just go for it and see what happens.’ ”

Gautreau was seeded third behind top qualifier Gwen Walker of Troy, whom she’d never beaten, and Kat Wickham of Palm Springs. She trailed both of them by a body length after 200 yards.

“It’s my last high school race,” she said. “I knew I was right there and I knew I could catch them. The more I could catch up to them, the more momentum I could gain.

“I felt so good at the end.”

Gautreau, who was 10th in the race last year, began moving up and beat Walker and Wickham, who were side-by-side, to the wall after 325 yards.

“I didn’t know what to think,” Gautreau said.

She then started a frantic push with 75 yards left to stay ahead of Walker.

“I could tell Gwen was trying to take off,” she said. “I didn’t know how fast she would come on and I didn’t want her to escape, so I just figured that I’m almost done, I’ve gone through all this. I mind as well go for it now.”

Gautreau swam a personal-best 4:34.70 with Walter in 4:55.64 and Walnut’s Theresa Lo sneaking by Wickham to take third in 4:56.39. Pasadena’s Victoria Lepesant finished ninth in 5:06.69. Gautreau dropped six seconds off her time during the prelims and finals.

“I feel like all the hard work finally is starting to catch up and is paying off,” she said. “It’s just feels so good to know that everything I worked for so far actually did something and got me somewhere.

“I’ve been waiting for so long for something like this to happen. It feels so much better now.”

In the 200 free, sophomore Lo was fourth in 1:52.80 with Gautreau sixth in 1:53.43 and senior Lepesant eighth in 1:54.08.

In the boys 100 breaststroke, arguably the best race of the session, Arroyo Grande’s Zachary Stevens edged Crescenta Valley’s Young Tae Seo and Keppel’s Justin Chiu to win in a meet-record 55.13. Seo swam a 55.25 and Chiu, a junior, had a personal-best 55.91. The trio were together for the first 150 yards, but Chiu began fading with 20 yards to go.

“I think toward the end I took an extra stroke and that might have cost me the race,” Chiu said. “I am so glad I was able be a part of that race. It was great to go against these fast and awesome guys.”

Chiu won last year’s CIF-SS Division 4 title in the event. He said this third-place finish was more satisfying.

“I’m actually even happier than last year,” he said. “It was great having such great competition with these guys.”

Walnut junior Derek Kao was fourth in the race in 56.78 and Los Altos’ Simon Wang sixth in 57.75. Chiu also was fifth in the 100 butterfly in 51.40.

Glendora’s Catherine Sanchez finished second in the 100 fly in 56.26.

“I am only a freshman and I got second,” she said. “I’m really, really happy.”

St. Lucy’s Sammie Keehn was seventh in the race in 57.84.

Keppel saw its streak of consecutive CIF-SS team titles end at four with the move up in divisions. In the boys division, Los Osos won with Crescenta Valley second. Damien finished eighth, Walnut ninth and Keppel 10th. Damien had finished second in the division last year.

Troy won the girls title by six points over Ayala, which beat King by one. Glendora was eighth, one point ahead of Keppel.

There were seven other meet records. Los Osos’ Kyle Coan (200 free), the Los Osos boys 200 and 400 free relay teams, CV’s Seo (200 IM), CV’s boys 200 medley relay team and Ayala girls 200 and 400 free relay teams all set new marks.

Perhaps the most inspiring fourth-place finish in the meet was from Charter Oak’s Joey Maddox in the 100 free. He started in lane 9, the slowest qualifying position for the finals, and was timed in 47.93. Damien’s Corey Maier was sixth in 47.98 and West Covina’s Kyle Chang eighth in 48.12.

“I swam my heart out,” Maddox said. “It was my last race for high school.”

Also getting fourth-place finishes were Damien’s Corey Maier in the 100 backstroke in 52.61 with Walnut’s Derek Wan seventh in 53.49 and teammate Jerry Chen ninth in 54.41. Walnut’s Chen, Kao, Wan and Emmett Poon was fourth in the 200 medley relay in 1:37.77.

keith.lair@sgvn.com 626-544-0856


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