The regular season in high school swimming has come to a close, but not before the Menlo-Atherton and Gunn girls made a statement for the upcoming league and Central Coast Section meets with important victories on Thursday.
At Menlo-Atherton, the Bears swept all three relays and got a pair of victories from freshman Brooke Stenstrom during a 101-69 dual-meet triumph over rival Burlingame in the PAL Bay Division.
The victory gives M-A the regular-season title and puts the Bears in the driver's seat for the league championship meet next Saturday at Burlingame High. Prelims will be Wednesday and Thursday.
The triumph also avenged last year's loss to the Panthers, which cost the Bears an undefeated season and divisional title.
A total of 30 cuts for the CCS meet were recorded Thursday, including four in each relay. The Bears produced 17 overall.
Burlingame, which won 11 events in last year's dual meet, took only four this time as the Bears stepped it up with first-place talent and depth. Stenstrom, daughter of head coach Lori (Heisick) Stenstrom, splashed to victories in the 50 free (24.93) and 100 free (54.47) while continuing to take aim at the school records of 23.57 and 51.60 by Mary Edwards in 1988 and '89, respectively. Those are the second-oldest marks remaining in the M-A record book.
Stenstrom also swam anchor legs on the winning 200 medley and 400 free relays. The opening medley foursome of Nicole Zanolli, Maddie Pont, Kindle Van Linge and Stenstrom clocked 1:51.26, just three seconds off the school record.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, the host Gunn girls splashed to a 106-80 victory over Los Gatos to finish 5-1 and tie Monta Vista for first-place in the dual-meet standings. The Titans can win the overall crown by winning the league meet next Friday at Palo Alto High. Prelims will be Wednesday (girls) and Thursday (boys).
Gunn won eight events, two each by Gabrielle Bethke and Jenna Campbell. Campbell took the 200 free (1:50.45) and 500 free (5:02.06), her best events, with Bethke sprinting to victories in the 50 free (24.84) and 100 free (53.30). Each also added legs on the winning 200 free (1:41.99) and 400 free (3:37.79) relay teams. Krystal Feri added a solid victory of 1:09.47 in the 100 breast.
The Palo Alto boys, meanwhile, positioned themselves for a title defense in the De Anza Division championships with a 123.5-61.5 victory over visiting Homestead on Thursday. The Vikings (5-1), beaten only by Monta Vista during the regular season, need to finish ahead of the Matadors in the league finals to claim the overall crown.
William Lee and Andrew Liang paced Paly as Lee took the 200 IM (1:58.49) and 100 back (52.93) with Liang capturing his specialties, the 50 free (21.64) and 100 fly (51.17). Liang holds the school records in those events with Lee the recordholder in the 100 back.
The two also helped Paly sweep the relays Lee going on the 200 medley (1:43.32) and 400 free (3:23.13) and Liang swimming the 200 free (1:31.45) and 400 free relays.
In the girls' meet, Jayna Wittenbrink took the 50 free (25.11) and 100 fly (59.53) and swam on the winning 200 free relay (1:43.53) and 400 free relay (3:50.94) to pace the Vikings to a 129-54 triumph. Paly finished 4-2 in the dual-meet season but is the defending league-meet champ.
In other meets Thursday:
Gunn freshman Daichi Matsuda gave the school record in the boys' 500 free a scare while winning in 4:44.40. He just missed the mark of 4:41.65, one of the oldest in the record book from 1985. Matsuda also won the 100 fly in 52.00, less than two seconds off the school mark.
Matsuda's efforts helped the Titans post a 99-87 victory over Los Gatos as the Titans finished 4-2 in league. Gunn won only five events, but used its depth to surface with the win.
In the PAL Bay Division, host Menlo-Atherton dropped a 90.5-79.5 decision to Burlingame to finish 3-3.
Burlingame slowly built a 10-point lead after the 100 fly, but M-A battled back to tie with Jake Bassin and Connor Arrington going one-two in the 100 free and the Bears' Vincent Busque and Zach Goland finishing one-three in the 500.
Burlingame won a close 200 free relay (1:32.87 to 1:33.41) before going one-two in the 100 back to grab a six-point lead. M-A went 2-3-tie 4th in the 100 breast to get to within 5.5 points heading into the final 400 free relay. Needing to finish first and third to win by a point, the Bears finished second in a season-best 3:24.76 and fourth (3:32.39) to fall short of victory.