While making the journey deep into the heart of Orange County, the members of the Burroughs High girls’ swimming team had championship aspirations.
A few hours after they arrived to participate in the CIF Southern Section Division 4 finals, title hopes became a reality for the Bears in somewhat surprising fashion.
Burroughs received first-place finishes in two relay events en route to winning the program’s first CIF title Saturday at Marguerite Aquatics Complex in Mission Viejo.
Burroughs finished with 199 points, besting Ambassador Christian, which had 141.
It marked the third CIF Southern Section crown in school history. Burroughs won a Division 1 championship in cross-country in 2014 and a Division 5 boys’ water polo title in 2016.
“Coming down here, we thought we had a chance,” said Burroughs coach Jacob Cook, who piloted the boys’ water polo team to its CIF championship. “When we got to the pool deck, we didn’t even consider it because we had a lot to do.
“As the meet went on, we started going through the scores and we figured maybe we’d have a shot after all. Obviously, it’s a bit unexpected. In the end, it’s a great day for our team and I can’t be more proud of them for what they’ve accomplished.”
The Bears excelled by winning the 200- and 400-yard freestyle relay races in dominating fashion.
Burroughs’ quartet of Nancy Baylor, Camilla Guillermo, Abby Chatalyan and Lilliana Noriega worked together to win the 200 free relay in 1 minute, 48.51 seconds. They then grouped to close out the meet in the 400 relay in 3:48.58.
“Winning the 200 relay was the turning point,” Baylor said. “We all knew our roles and that win put us in first place as a team the rest of the way.
“We thought we had a shot at CIF as things moved on. It’s real cool that we were able to win CIF.”
Said Noriega: “It’s pretty amazing how far we’ve come the last three years. We knew we had one of the top relay teams [in the division]. We have a lot of speed.”
In individual events, Burroughs received a second-place effort from Chatalyan in the 500 free (5:20.03), a second-place performance from Noriega in the 50 free (25.49), a fifth-place finish from Baylor in the 200 free (2:09.57). a fifth-place performance from Guillermo in the 200 individual medley (2:22.49) and a fifth-place performance from Noriega in the 100 backstroke (1:04.60).
“It was a great experience and we did the best we could,” Chatalyan said. “I was super-excited throughout the meet and it was just a great experience.”
In the consolation portion of the meet, the Bears got a first-place effort from Guillermo in the 100 backstroke (1:05.23) and a second-place finish from Kelly Long in the 500 free (5:57.96).
Burbank had some good efforts to place 15th with 50 points in the Division 4 meet.
The Bulldogs were paced by Michelle Galadjeva, who took fifth in the 50 free in 26.66.
In the consolation races, Burbank received a second-place finish from Galadjeva, Tiffany Gonzalez, Alina Biryuchkova and Ani Rostomyan in the 200 medley relay (2:10.72) and an eighth-place performance from Biryuchkova in the 200 free (2:21.74).
“It was very exciting for us to come down here and compete at this level,” Burbank coach Joseph Klink said. “We had some great times and we are putting things together and moving the program forward like we want to. This year will help us because we gained a lot of experience.”
The lone local boys’ swimmer to compete was Justin Cloutier of Burroughs. Cloutier took third in the 100 free in 48.81 in the consolation portion of the Division 3 meet.