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Northwood, Sonora boys race to records at Mt. SAC swimming meet


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Northwood’s 400-yard freestyle relay, from left, of Elson Lee, Christopher Leung, Derek Hitchens and Will Chen won in a meet-record 3:06.32 to cap the Timberwolves’ team title at the Mt. SAC Swimming High School Spring Meet of Champions on Saturday. (Photo courtesy of Alex Tolkachev)

Northwood’s boys team and Sonora’s duo of Matthew Chai and Joey Kling put on a record-setting show at the Mt. SAC Swimming High School Spring Meet of Champions on Saturday.

The Timberwolves’ girls also continued their breakout season.

Northwood’s boys set meet-records in the 200-yard medley and 400 freestyle relays en route to claiming the team title in their first appearance in the meet, which attracted 32 schools.

The squad scored 878.5 points to outdistance runner-up Clovis North — the Division 1 runner-up in the Central Section last season — by more than 400 points.

The Timberwolves’ girls, undefeated in Pacific Coast League dual meets like the boys, placed third behind reigning Central Section champion Clovis North and San Marcos.

The finish helped Northwood capture the combined team championship.

“We needed something to bring us together,” said Northwood coach Alex Nieto, who made a late adjustment to his team’s schedule to add the meet. “We’re on a high and just have to carry it through (the rest of the season).”

Northwood’s 200 medley relay of Derek Hitchens, Eric Zhu, Jason Kim and Christopher Leung clocked a meet and pool record 1 minute, 32.57 seconds. Leung blasted a 20.31 anchor to cap an automatic All-American time that sliced just over three seconds off the team’s entry time.

Hitchens, a freshman, later teamed with freshman Will Chen, sophomore Elson Lee and Leung, a junior, to clock a meet-record in the 400 free with a 3:06.32.

Hitchens led off the relay with a 46.48 split while Leung sizzled another anchor in 45.34.

Leung also won the 100 butterfly in a swift 48.74, an automatic All-American time.

Northwood’s girls highlighted their meet with a fifth-place touch in the medley relay that challenged the school record. The team of Genevieve Chomin, Taylor Inouye, Carolyn Nguyen and Lauren Kim clocked a 1:49.22, nearly a two second drop from its entry time.

The Timberwolves also placed fifth in the 200 (1:39.97) and 400 freestyle (3:36.57) relays. Kim Huynh anchored the 400 free in 52.93.

Chai, a sitout transfer from Diamond Bar, blazed to meet records in the 200 (1:37.06) and 500 (4:16.32) freestyles. His 500 also set a pool record.

The Cal-bound senior from the FAST club became Orange County’s No. 2 all-time performer in the 500 free, edging Olympian Larsen Jensen (4:16.93 for Mission Viejo in 2003) for the spot. Recently-retired Grant Shoults holds the county and national record with a 4:12.87 for Santa Margarita in 2016.

Chai’s 200 free ranked him as Orange County’s No. 9 all-time performer.

Kling, a senior bound for Army, also won the 100 back in a meet-record 49.14. He also finished third in the butterfly in 49.81.

The pool records at Mt. SAC carry some extra weight. The college in Walnut hosted the CIF-SS finals in 2009.

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