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Orangewood’s Haruhi Yamagata, Kenta Chiyo make splash at CIF swimming prelims


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MISSION VIEJO — Haruhi Yamagata and Kenta Chiyo of Orangewood Academy introduced themselves and their school to the CIF-SS swimming championships on Monday.

The foreign exchange students from Japan made a historic first impression, which was the best they could do for now.

Chiyo, a junior, highlighted the Division 4 prelims by tying the meet-record in the 100-yard butterfly en route to posting two top-qualifying times. Yamagata, a freshman, also blazed a pair of top-qualifying times while racing in front of his mother who traveled from Japan to see him at the Marguerite Aquatics Complex.

All this came from a duo believed to be the first swimmers from Orangewood Academy, a school of 89 high school students, to race at the section finals.

“I feel proud of it,” Chiyo said of his record-tying time of 49.46 seconds in the butterfly. “This is our first time to get to (CIF).”

Chiyo’s season-best time equaled the 2019 meet-record of Diamond Bar’s Vincent Cheng, who now swims for USC.

Chiyo narrowly missed another meet-record in the 100 backstroke. The San Joaquin League male swimmer of the year touched in 49.47, just five one-hundredths of a second off James Torrez’s 2017 record for La Salle.

Yamagata qualified first in the 200 individual medley (2:01.28) and 100 breaststroke (58.76).

The boys’ history and performance helped offset the news that neither will race in Saturday’s 2 p.m. finals because of Orangewood Academy’s Seventh-day Adventist religion. The Spartans don’t compete or practice from sundown on Fridays to sundown Saturdays.

“Those would have been cool CIF titles to have,” longtime Orangewood Academy athletic director Leslie Aragon said. “(The boys) have been great about it. Neither of them are actually Seventh-day Adventist. They’ve very good with the classes and both of them have been incredibly gracious about not making a big deal about it.

“They’re just really humble kids,” Aragon added.

Yamagata and Chiyo both train with Golden West Swim Club. They were born in different cities in Japan but now live with the same host family in Huntington Beach.

After his breaststroke race, Yamagata exited the pool and bowed to his mother Rumiko in the stands.

“It was pretty cool,” Aragon said.

In other results, Ocean View’s girls 400 free relay (3:59.37) dropped almost 9 1/2 seconds from its entry time to qualify second to Burroughs of Burbank. Seahawks freshman Morgan Carles also qualified third in the 200 IM (2:17.64) and 100 free (54.83).

Loara senior Daniella Jiron qualified sixth in the breaststroke (1:15.71).

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